How to Take Meeting Minutes

Keeping a Written Record of a Workplace Meeting or Conference

Illustration highlighting the basic steps in taking meeting minutes

Image by Bailey Mariner © The Balance 2019 

Meeting minutes are the detailed notes that serve as an official written record of a meeting or conference. The person in charge of the gathering usually asks one of the participants to tend to this task. One day, that someone could be you. While it's not a terribly difficult job, taking minutes is an important one. Since meeting minutes are an official record of what transpired, accuracy is crucial. You will have to take thorough meeting notes that people must be able to refer to later if necessary.

Here are some pointers to help you handle this task with finesse. Find out what to do before, during, and after the meeting to ensure you take effective minutes.

Before the Meeting

  • Choose your recording tool. Will you go old school and use a pen and paper or will you go high-tech and use a laptop computer, tablet, or smartphone? Check with your boss to see if they prefer that you use a particular method.
  • Make sure your tool of choice is in working order, and have a backup just in case your original one fails. If you bring a laptop, for instance, have a pen and paper handy as well. You don't want to have to stop the meeting while you search for something to write on if your computer crashes.
  • Read the meeting agenda before the meeting starts. It will allow you to formulate an outline for your minutes. Leave some space below each item on it and write your notes there. Doing this will make your job a little easier, as long as the person running the meeting sticks to the agenda.

During the Meeting

  • Pass around an attendance sheet and make sure everyone signs in. You will need to include a list of all attendees in the official meeting minutes.
  • Make sure you know who everyone is. That way you will be able to identify who is speaking and correctly record that information.
  • Note the time the meeting begins.
  • Don't try to write down every single comment. It is okay to include only the main ideas. Be very careful not to leave out items with which you disagree. Your biases shouldn't influence you. Remember this is an official account, not your opinion of what happened.
  • Write down all motions, who made them, and the results of votes, if any; you don't need to write down who seconded a motion. Of course, the rules of your organization may differ so verify those with your boss first.
  • If votes on any motions or discussions are deferred until the next meeting, make a note of that.
  • Record the ending time of the meeting.

After the Meeting

  • Type up the minutes as soon as possible after the meeting while everything is still fresh in your mind. If you find an error in your meeting notes or you have a question, you can clear it up quickly by talking to other attendees.
  • On the final copy of the minutes, Include the name of the organization, title of the committee, type of meeting (daily, weekly, monthly, annual, or special), and its purpose.
  • Give the times it began and ended.
  • Provide the list of attendees and a note about who ran the meeting. Include your name on the list of participants and, in parentheses after your name, say that you took the minutes. Alternatively, at the end of the document, you can sign off by writing "Respectively submitted by," followed by your name.
  • Proofread the minutes before you submit them. Ask someone else who attended to look them over as well. They will be able to let you know if you accidentally left something out.
  • Submit them to the person who ran the meeting unless instructed to do otherwise.
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