During the course of a busy workday, it's easy for important details to get lost or forgotten. Careful recordkeeping is imperative -- especially during business meetings. The minutes serve as an official record of the meeting. They should describe who was present during the meeting, what was discussed and what was decided. If carefully prepared, they can be one of the most effective methods of keeping everyone informed and on the same page about past, current and future business decisions.
Record the date, time and location of the meeting.
List, in order of seniority, everyone in attendance.
Indicate whether a quorum is present, if necessary. Not every meeting requires a quorum, or a minimum number of attendees to make the meeting valid. However, if a quorum is required and present, it means the business decisions made during the meeting are valid and enforceable. Without a quorum, the business cannot act.
Describe the proceedings in chronological order. Start by noting when the meeting was called to order and by whom.
Jot down the name of each person who starts a topic and write down the most important details about the discussion.
Write down the names of people who agree or disagree with what is being discussed and concisely state the nature of the agreement or disagreement.
End each section of the meeting with a summary of the final decision.
Continue repeating steps 5 through 7 until the meeting is over.
Write up a formal recap of the meeting based on your notes. Use company letterhead and send the final copy to each person in attendance.
Use the meeting agenda as an outline for your meeting minutes. Agendas typically outline the major topics for the meeting. Using the agenda as an outline helps keep your minutes organized.
While technology may offer certain time savings, Neal Hartman, a senior lecturer in managerial communication at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, suggests in a column on the Forbes website that you ban technology at meetings to keep everyone focused. If you decide to use technology to help you capture the minutes, consider implementing distraction-free software that temporarily blocks access to email, the Internet or other programs besides a simple word processor.
Based in Traverse City, Mich., George Lawrence has been writing professionally since 2009. His work primarily appears on various websites. An avid outdoorsman, Lawrence holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in both criminal justice and English from Michigan State University, as well as a Juris Doctor from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, where he graduated with honors.