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.
Meeting minutes are a clean, concise way of taking notes, one that helps keep track of essential information.
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.
Watch this guide as a video below, or scroll on to keep reading:
What is Covered (Contents):
Here is some necessary information found in most meeting minutes.
If you're not using a meeting management tool like Hugo that automatically tracks meeting titles, attendees, dates, and times, then space for all of this information should be in your meeting minutes template.
To illustrate what meeting minutes are, below are two sample documents created from meeting minutes templates.
These documents are effectively meeting notes with only the essential information written down. As you'll see below, preparing effective meeting minutes doesn't have to be an arduous task. It's more about recording the *right* information than all of the information.
If your meeting is run according to Robert's Rules of Order, make sure to use a meeting minutes template that follow's those rules.
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 cloud-based Hugo account.
MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
September 5, 2021
A meeting of the Board of Directors (the “Board”) of ACME Corp., a California C-Corporation (the “Company”), was held on September 5, 2021, at the offices of the Company.
- Voting Members: Larry Emerson, Marc Branson
- Guests: Amy Holmes, Tom Avery
- Voting Members Absent: None
Approval of minutes
A motion to approve the previous meeting minutes from August 5th was made by Larry Emerson and seconded by Marc Branson.
Call to Order
Larry Emerson called the meeting to order at 2:00 p.m. and Tom Avery recorded the minutes. A quorum of directors was present, and the meeting, having been duly convened, was ready to proceed with the business.
Larry Emerson reviewed the agenda and welcomed everyone to the meeting. Next, Larry Emerson discussed the current status of the company and its progress. A number of questions were asked and extensive discussion ensued.
Sales & Business Development Update Report
Marc Branson next provided an update on the overall sales progress and sales pipeline of the Company. He also presented the status of business development discussions.
Financial Review Report
Marc Branson provided a comprehensive update on the Company's financial plan and forecast. Marc Branson also reviewed the Company's principal financial operating metrics.
Motion #1: Approval of Option Grants
Amy Holmes presented to the Board a list of proposed options to be granted to Company employees for approval, whereupon motion duly made, seconded and unanimously adopted, the option grants were approved as presented in Exhibit A.
There being no further business to come before the meeting, the meeting was adjourned at 2:45 p.m.
To build a measurement strategy that allows the customer success team to track progress on KPIs and measure that progress against their stated departmental goals.
Strategy must be ready to deploy by Q4 2021.
✅ 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. As the minutes taker, your job is to 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.
Some of this is boring information to keep track of: meeting names, date and time, action items and decisions made. But later on, those meeting notes may contain essential information to keep everyone on the same page about what happened during that meeting.
✅ Note who is unable to attend.
With meeting minutes, it's important to write down who attended the meeting, but also who didn't, so there is no confusion about who may have discussed or voted on an issue.
✅ 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.
A 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.
A lot can happen during a conversation and it can be hard for the note-taker to keep up. Go from being a basic meeting minutes taker to a pro with these expert tips to help you save time while writing and keep up with the conversation.
💡 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 this next to tasks assigned, for example.
💡 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.”
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 left corner of any template, click the "Use this template" button to choose from three formats:
As mentioned, formal meeting minutes are generally written based on Robert’s Rules of Order. The template below is structured based on these rules, which are often adopted for board meetings and committee meetings.
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. Look at the previous meeting's minutes and make improvements as you see fit.
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.
And here's the template based on the informal meeting minutes sample at the top of this article:
Do you have an all-hands staff meeting coming up? Here's a free template for you to download or copy.
This example agenda is based on a template that we use at Hugo for a lot of our team meetings.
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.
⚡ 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.
The minutes-taker may be a variety of people:
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.”
If you’re following Robert’s Rules of Order, prioritize your agenda in this order:
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.
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:
See here for more tips on creating effective meeting agendas.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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