For many people, taking board meeting minutes can be intimidating. However, it is necessary for compliance purposes and proper record keeping. Suppose someone needs to refer back to a board meeting for any reason, including legal purposes. In that case, well-documented board meeting minutes should be able to provide a complete summary of what the meeting was about and what decisions were made.
That being said, the person responsible should have excellent listening and note-taking skills and the ability to summarize key points and action items.
This article will guide you on how to take effective board meeting minutes and provides a template for you to use at your next board meeting.
Board meeting minutes are an official and legal record of what takes place at every board meeting, including the board of directors' decisions, motions, actions, and resolutions.
The primary purpose of board meeting minutes is to hold board members accountable and ensure they meet the following:
In addition, if a board member cannot attend a meeting for any reason, minutes provide an overview of what they missed.
Now that you know what board meeting minutes are, it's essential to understand the importance of documenting every board meeting.
1. Board meeting minutes provide a historical record that can be referred to at any point.
When information from meetings is well documented, it can help the board make more informed decisions in the future based on what has, or hasn't, worked in the past.
Additionally, new board members can review meeting minutes to learn more about the organization and how the board comes to its decisions.
2. Board meeting minutes are an official legal log.
In the event of a lawsuit, the court may subpoena your board meeting minutes and use them as an official account of the board’s actions. Additionally, the organization could face legal ramifications if any information is missing or recorded incorrectly. In any case, it's always best to prepare for any potential legal situations by keeping detailed and accurate records.
3. Board meeting minutes help evaluate the work of the organization.
Prospective donors, funders, and sponsors may request access to meeting minutes to help them decide whether or not they want to back your organization.
Although taking meeting minutes is not overly complicated, it does require good listening and note-taking skills, critical thinking, and the knowledge of what needs to be included.
Follow the six steps to take minutes at a board meeting effectively.
The first thing you need to know is who will be the minute-taker.
For many boards, the minute-taker is the same person at every meeting since they're already familiar with the process, for example, the board secretary. However, there may be a time when that person is unavailable. Having an appointed minute-taker and a backup minute-taker is an excellent idea to keep things running smoothly.
There are a few things the minute-taker should prepare ahead of the meeting:
Having a template ready to go will help the minute-taker stay organized, allow them to capture important information more efficiently, and ensure they don't miss any details.
What should be included in the board meeting minutes?
Remember to include a spot where you can note the minutes. Robert's Rules of Order is an excellent resource if you're still unsure what to include in your template.
Attentive listening is crucial to capture all necessary information accurately. As the minute-taker, you should pick a seat where you can see and hear each member and avoid distractions.
It's a good idea to write down the basic information before the board meeting starts, such as the date and names of attendees.
Then, fill in your board meeting minutes template as the meeting progresses. As you work through the list of agenda items, make sure to consider the best practices for writing meeting minutes:
In today's online world, many boards have shifted to virtual meetings. If this is the case for your organization, a program like Airgram meeting assistant can be excellent when taking meeting minutes.
Remember that you should only use recordings or transcriptions of board meetings to double-check that your meeting minutes are correct and nothing gets missed. It does not replace the minute-taker or act as a documentation of record.
Once the meeting has ended, you should immediately review your board meeting minutes while the details are still fresh in your mind.
Any changes should be made as soon as possible. Then, attach any additional documents as an appendix or note where they will be stored.
The minute-taker is responsible for finalizing and signing the meeting minutes by the board secretary. Some organizations may require the president's signature as well. After it's completed, the secretary can share it with the rest of the board.
The last step is to archive the board meeting minutes and supporting materials. How your organization chooses to store these documents may vary. Whether you store records online or in paper format, make sure it is kept somewhere secure.
Board meeting minutes are essential documents that could potentially be reviewed by stakeholders, legal entities, and others. Because of this, knowing what you leave out of board meeting minutes is equally as important as knowing what to include.
Here are a few things to leave out:
Having a board meeting minutes template makes it easier to record minutes and helps with consistency between reports.
The board must approve the minutes from the last meeting.
Review items the board has previously discussed and are ready for formal approval.
A new business might include reports from the CEO, the finance department, or other department leads.
Minute taker must submit the minutes for approval by the Board Chair or meeting facilitator.
Now that you know how to write board meeting minutes effectively, get the template and implement it at your next board meeting. If it’s a virtual one, you might consider using a tool like Airgram. Airgram makes recording minutes even more effortless with features that can transcribe calls, allow collaboration on meeting notes, and quickly share critical points.