How to Write the Minutes of Any Meeting [Samples and Templates]
Also sometimes referred to by their longer name, the minutes of a meeting, minutes are the summarized record of what happened at a meeting. You can think of them as a more formal, summarized version of your meeting notes. But unlike meeting notes, minutes are meant to serve as a record that everyone can refer to, understand, and act on (if necessary).
Plus, when they’re written well, meeting minutes are a critical communication tool for your entire organization. Unfortunately, that also means chicken scratch and doodles won’t do here.
To that end, we’ve created this reference so you can learn and access everything you need to write effective formal—or informal—meeting minutes, including:
- How to Write Meeting Minutes
- Formal and Informal Meeting Minutes Samples
- Formal Meeting Minutes Template
- Informal Meeting Minutes Template
Informal and Formal Minutes of Meeting Formats
Before diving into how to write meeting minutes, it’s important to first figure out what type of format you’ll need: formal or informal.
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.
Since these types of meeting minutes are required for compliance, they generally must follow a specific format.
For the rest of us, meeting minutes are simpler and more customizable. You can think of informal meeting minutes as a meeting summary, so the templates and forms you use are ultimately up to you.
Still, just because they’re less formal doesn’t mean informal minutes are any less useful.
How to Write Meeting Minutes
Whether you’re writing formal or informal meeting minutes, the keys to writing well are the same: be concise and clear. Your creative writing skills must take a back seat (for now).
Your job is to write the minutes in such a way that someone who didn’t attend the meeting could read them 6 months after the meeting and understand:
- Who attended the meeting
- What decisions were made and by whom
- Why and how those decisions were made
- What was done as a result of that meeting
As you might imagine, there’s a balancing act between keeping minutes concise and providing the necessary context.
While you definitely want to avoid injecting personal observations and irrelevant conversations into the minutes, the amount of context you include is a judgment call. To strike the balance, imagine that 6 months from now someone will need to know what happened in your meeting, and write to that person.
Making Meeting Minutes More Usable
If you’re writing formal meeting minutes, you’ll be more or less forced into a certain format. For trade unions, schools, city and county governments, and others, you’ll need to model your meeting minutes based on Robert’s Rules of Order.
But with informal meeting minutes, you have more flexibility, which you can use to make your minutes more usable and shareable.
By thoughtfully structuring your meeting agendas and minutes, you can make both documents far more effective.
For example, you could link action items from your meeting minutes to your project management software to automatically create tasks. And if your agenda is aligned with your meeting minutes, you can link relevant contextual information from the agenda to the automatically generated task.
In this way, your meeting minutes, agenda, and the meeting itself become far more effective.
Meeting Minutes Samples & Examples
For the visual learner, we’ve created samples of both types of meeting minutes. If you’d like to get straight to our meeting minutes templates, click here.
Use these to guide your writing but remember that your meetings may require slightly different or additional 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 your organization.
Formal Meeting Minutes Sample
MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
September 5, 2020
A meeting of the Board of Directors (the “Board”) of ACME Corp., a California C-Corporation (the “Company”), was held on September 5, 2020, 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 minutes of the previous August 5th meeting 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.
Informal Meeting Minutes Sample
Discussion and Update
2019 Financial Recap
- We currently have a surplus of $ for the Holiday Party: Jane has reserved the space at Vanderbilt Hotel for January 14th.
- Bill has offered up info on a potential venue that would be more affordable.
- Adeline has pulled a list of potential members to target – pulled from member lists and other various sources.
- Stephen is attending CPC meeting this week where GBTA will be providing details on the VIP Membership promotion along with various associated promotional materials.
- Bill to send list of caterers to Jane by Jan. 4th
- Johna to send Boca Bliss details to Jane by Jan. 5th
- Jane to make final decision by Jan. 14th
- Stephen to send All-Access Membership promotion info to Adeline by Jan. 20th
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, but you should adjust it based on your organization’s needs. If your organization has used meeting minutes before, ask someone to see a copy of what’s been done in the past and make improvements as you see fit.
Call to Order
A [meeting type] meeting of [organization name] was held on [date] at [location]. It began at [time] and was presided over by [chairperson’s name], with [secretary’s name] as secretary.
- Voting members: [Insert names of voting members]
- Guests: [Insert names of guests]
- Members not in attendance: [Insert names of voting members not in attendance]
Approval of minutes
A motion to approve the minutes of the previous [date] meeting was made by [name] and seconded by [name].
- Motion by [name] and seconded by [name] that [state the motion here]. The motion [carried or failed] with [#] in favor and [#] against.
There being no further business to come before the meeting, the meeting was adjourned at [time].
Informal Meeting Minutes Template
The following template sets the goal, 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.
Check all that apply.
Write the meeting goal here. (E.g. Discuss agency performance and decide whether to renew for another year.)
- Item one
- Item two
- Item three
- @name Task by DUE-DATE
Getting More Out of Your Meetings
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 to use for your meeting minutes 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 20 templates for you to choose from. 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.