Meeting minutes are the official summary of what happened during a meeting.
They serve as an outline, a written record for anyone unable to attend, and to use for future reference. Minutes document what happened and what decisions were made.
When written well, and when using a good meeting minutes template, minutes are a critical communication tool for your organization.
In this guide, learn and access everything you need to write effective formal and informal meeting minutes. We have a range of templates, best practices, and answers to common questions.
What is Covered (Contents):
- Examples - Examples of minutes taken at a meeting
- Tips - Tips on how to write meeting minutes
- Templates - Free templates for Word, Google Docs, and Hugo
- FAQs - Frequently asked questions about note-taking
What should be included in meeting minutes?
Here is some necessary information found in most meeting minutes.
- The title of the group that is meeting, or the meeting itself
- The date and time, as well as the venue or meeting room, if appropriate
- Who is in attendance and who is recording the minutes
- The meeting’s agenda
- What decisions were made and by whom
- Motions and vote counts (if applicable)
Examples of minutes taken at a meeting
To illustrate what meeting minutes are, below are two sample documents created from templates.
NOTE: There are 5 free meeting minutes templates at the end of this article for you to download as professional-looking Word documents, copy as Google Docs, or simply copy and paste from. These templates are also available from the free template library in your Hugo account.
Formal Meeting Minutes Sample
Informal / Simple Meeting Minutes Sample
How to Write Meeting Minutes - The Basics
✅ Take minutes in real time, or make notes after each topic.
Start with the meeting agenda as an outline. Fill in agenda items with more detail while the information is still fresh in your mind—in real-time.
✅ Be concise.
Your creative writing skills must take a back seat (for now).
Write the minutes as if you are a journalist. Document what is happening at the meeting.
This is a written record, but just the broad strokes. You don’t need a verbatim accounting of everything that is said.
✅ Fill in your meeting minutes documents so that they can be understood by someone who was unable to attend.
As you might imagine, there’s a balancing act when writing minutes. You must keep minutes concise but also provide enough context for future reference.
Remember, it's often customary to review meeting notes at the beginning of the next meeting. For example, a board meeting typically starts with the approval of the previous meeting's minutes.
The amount of context you include as a meeting note-taker is a judgment call.
✅ Just note the facts.
Avoid personal observations when writing meeting minutes. If you want to take separate notes of your own, you are welcome to do so. But the meeting minutes should be a factual record of what was discussed.
✅ Use a meeting minutes template for the right format.
If you’re writing formal meeting minutes, follow a certain format. For trade unions, schools, city and county governments, and others, you may need to follow Robert’s Rules of Order.
But with informal meeting minutes, you have more flexibility. Think of what your organization needs, and what's been done in the past. Then improve on that process.
DON'TS: What not to include
At challenging aspect of taking meeting minutes is restraint—choosing not just what to put in the minutes but what to leave out.
🚫 Don’t try to record everything verbatim. Minutes aren’t a transcription; they’re a summary. (See the best meeting transcription software if you need a word-for-word transcription.)
🚫 Don’t include personal thoughts or observations. If you have thoughts and ideas during the meeting, record them separately from the official minutes.
🚫 Don’t repeat information that is already there. Especially if the agenda clearly states a discussion topic (e.g., “2021 Budget Discussion) you do not need to write a redundant note in the minutes, such as “Budget was discussed for 2021.”
🚫 Don’t handwrite your notes. Because minutes are a record of what happened in the meeting, it’s to use a digital format since. Ultimately these meeting notes must be saved and shared.
Advanced Tips: Tricks to take notes faster
A lot can happen during a conversation and it can be hard for the note-taker to keep up.
💡 Use initials instead of people’s full names. If there’s one note-taking tip that will save you loads of time, it’s to abbreviate the names of meeting participants.
💡 Use acronyms where you can without sacrificing clarity. As with names, acronyms can be a big help. For instance, we have a series of content we call “Behind the Team.” Whenever we discuss it, instead of writing out all the words, we simply write BTT.
💡 Use sentence fragments as long as it still makes sense. No need for perfect grammar. Instead of full sentences, write notes in your minutes like, “Decision to move forward,” or “Revisit strategy in 6 weeks.”
Free Meeting Minutes Templates
For the visual learner, we’ve created samples of both types of meeting minutes. If you’d like to get straight to our templates, scroll a little further.
Use these to guide your writing. But remember: Your meetings may require different information. Don’t get so enamored with copying the samples that you forget to write your meeting minutes in a way that's useful for you and your team.
In the bottom right corner of any template, click the "Get this template" button to choose from three formats:
- Word doc template
- Google doc (Save a copy)
- Ue the meeting minutes template in Hugo (Free account)
Formal meeting minutes template
As mentioned, formal meeting minutes are generally written based on Robert’s Rules of Order. The template below is structured based on these rules.
If you’re starting from scratch, this is a perfect starting point.
Still, adjust it. If your organization has used meeting minutes before, ask someone to see a copy of what’s been done in the past. Make improvements as you see fit.
Informal meeting minutes template
The following template is super basic. It sets the goal, meeting agenda, and records next steps for any type of meeting. And it doubles as a meeting summary template.
Feel free to make it your own by adding elements of the formal template or your own ideas.
Simple meeting minutes template
And here's the template based on the informal meeting minutes sample at the top of this article:
Staff meeting minutes template
Do you have an all-hands staff meeting coming up? Here's a free template for you to download or copy.
Team meeting minutes template
This example agenda is based on a template that we use at Hugo for a lot of our team meetings.
Meeting Minutes FAQs
How do you write action items?
When adding tasks and action items to your meeting notes, here are five steps to follow.
⚡ Start your action item with a verb. A common time-saving mistake is to be too brief in noting a task, forgetting to include the “action” part of the action item.
- 😒 Bad: 2021 data
- 😀 Good: Pull the 2021 data to share with the team
⚡ Assign each action item to someone who is responsible. A meeting participant must take ownership of every single task, otherwise that task may not be completed.
⚡ Don’t include more information than is necessary. It is up to the person who is responsible to keep track of details. These details don’t need to clutter up your meeting notes.
⚡ Note a due date if there is one. Even if there is no clear date, often an arbitrary one, such as one week, is helpful for creating urgency to do the task.
⚡ Follow up on action items at the next meeting. If status updates on action items haven’t been given in the meantime, quickly review the previous meeting’s minutes to ensure action items were accomplished.
Who prepares the minutes of a meeting?
The minutes-taker may be a variety of people:
- A participant in the meeting
- An attendee who won’t be contributing but is privy to the information
- A professional note-taker
In formal situations, the note-taker is often the secretary, an executive assistant, or an admin.
In less-formal meetings, the person taking the minutes may simply be a volunteer. This person who prepares the minutes of a meeting is sometimes called a “scribe.”
What is the proper order of an agenda?
If you’re following Robert’s Rules of Order, prioritize your agenda in this order:
- Minutes from the previous meeting
- Time-sensitive situations
- Unfinished business
- General items
- New business
If you’re not following strict parliamentary procedures in your meetings, much of this advice is still useful. Begin by carrying over any threads from the previous meeting, as well as large discussions or time-sensitive business. Leave more minor agenda items for the end.
How do you create a perfect meeting agenda?
The perfect agenda is brief but descriptive. It provides all the necessary background without being so long and unwieldy that no one wants to read it.
For an effective meeting agenda, follow these steps:
- Prepare your agenda before the meeting; at least 24 hours in advance.
- Clearly define the goal of the meeting so everyone knows why they are there.
- Prioritize agenda items based on importance.
- List discussion topics as questions that need to be answered.
- Allow reasonable amounts of time for each topic.
- Include necessary background info for decisions to be made.
- Share the agenda with attendees so they can have input and show up prepared.
See here for more tips on creating effective meeting agendas.
What is the best template format for meeting minutes?
Should you use a Word Doc, Google Doc, Excel, PDF, email, or something else for your meeting minutes templates?
When considering what type of file or document to use for your meeting, the most important factor to consider is how you will save and share your minutes.
Standard files like Word Docs, Excel spreadsheets, and PDFs all have a similar limitation as templates for meeting minutes—they need an extra step to be used or shared. Opening any of these file types requires a special program that not everyone may have access to.
Additionally, regular files like Word Docs and PDFs need to be saved carefully in the cloud, with attention to not having multiple versions of the same file in dispute.
Often meeting minutes are also emailed, but email should not be the only place the meeting minutes live. The minutes should also be saved somewhere centralized so they can be found later if need be.
The best solution is often a cloud-based type of document, such as a Google Doc. Even better is a doc in a free meeting management system like Hugo, where notes are easily shared (or kept private), and automatically organized.
What tense should meeting minutes be written in?
Meeting minutes are a recounting of what happened at the meeting. They should read like a description of the past, not like an announcer calling a sports game as it’s playing out.
- Incorrect: The board approves the 2021 budget.
- Correct: The board approved the 2021 budget.
What are the abbreviations for minutes of meeting?
MoM stands for Minutes of Meeting.
MM stands for Meeting Minutes.
Note: Using these acronyms may be confusing to people who are unfamiliar with them.
How do you pronounce meeting minutes?
Even though the word “minutes” originates from the notion of something being small or my-newt, meeting minutes is pronounced like the word for a minute of time.
To say, “Please take minutes for this meeting,” you would pronounce the word the same as when saying, “There are sixty minutes in an hour.”
Do meeting minutes need to be approved or signed?
Certain formal meeting minutes do need to be certified in some way in order to be an official record of a meeting. Often the Chair needs to review and approve the minutes before they can be circulated. Or, for many organizations, minutes are reviewed and approved by the group at the beginning of the next meeting.
However, apart from these situations, whether your minutes are approved or not is up to the leaders at the organization and how they want to run their process.
Informal and Formal Minutes
What's the difference?
Certain organizations such as nonprofits, public companies, local governments, and schools are required by law to create formal meeting minutes.
For example, in California, many state and local government bodies must make meeting minutes available to the public. Similarly, public companies are required to create meeting minutes for Board of Directors and Shareholder meetings.
Or, if you’ve applied for a PPP loan during the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the required documents is the official minutes from a board meeting authorizing the loan.
Since these types of meeting minutes are required for compliance or legal reasons, they should follow a clear and professional format.
Often meeting minutes are flexible and somewhat informal. They still need to be clear, professional, and consistent. But, you’re not going to get sued if you don’t include all the right information.
Think of informal meeting minutes as a meeting summary. The templates and forms you use are ultimately up to you. Just because they’re less formal doesn’t mean informal minutes are less useful.
More free minutes templates (Word, Google docs) 🙌
Remember, the minutes of your meetings are there to help your organization be more collaborative, transparent, and efficient. Keep that in mind and whatever form or template you choose will work just fine.
The only additional meeting-related document you’ll need to worry about now is the agenda. Good thing we’ve got more than 80 meeting minutes templates for you to choose from. Get them in Word Doc or Google Doc (or add them to your free Hugo account)👇
So grab the templates you need and get ready to make your meetings matter even more.☝️ If you’ve ever wanted a tool to extract the most useful, relevant bits of information from a meeting, minutes could be your new best friend.