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Robert's Rules of Order is a widely accepted guideline for how groups should conduct meetings and make decisions together. As the official record of what happens in each meeting, the minutes are a crucial resource in any group decision-making process. The minutes of a meeting are not necessarily exciting, but they should be clear and easy to understand. There is a precise method for keeping minutes according to Robert's Rules; following this formula makes it easier for future readers to follow along and understand the proceedings and their result.
Beginning Robert's Rules of Order Minutes
Every set of meeting minutes, according to Robert's Rules of Order, should include the same details, which will give the reader a general understanding of the purpose of the meeting. Always begin with a first paragraph that includes:
- The kind of meeting, whether regular, special, annual, adjourned regular or otherwise.
- The date, time and location of the meeting. If all meetings are held in the same place, omit that detail
- The name of the organization that is meeting
- Confirmation that the organization's presiding officer and secretary are present in the meeting. If they're not, give the names of the individuals substituting for each of them
- State whether the previous meeting's minutes were read and approved. If the previous meeting wasn't a regular meeting, add the date of that meeting.
The Main Body of the Minutes
The majority of the remaining record will be filled with details about the meeting. The secretary taking minutes may record the meeting and prepare the record later, to ensure a fair and complete record of all the meeting details. Always keep a secondary recording method, such as a laptop or notebook, plus pens and paper, in case the primary method fails.
Include all the official discussion points in the meeting. Take detailed notes on:
- Any motions made at the meeting, along with the name of the person who made the motion.
- Motions bringing a question before the body in the meeting.
- The final wording and disposition of all motions.
- Information about each vote, including the roll-call vote, the counted vote or the ballot vote.
- Whether the assembly went into a quasi-committee or a committee of the whole, and results of this act.
- All points of order and appeals, along with their disposition, plus any reasons that were given by the chair for each ruling.
- A record of any disorderly comments a member might have made resulting in the chair naming him as being disorderly.
- All other official discussions held in the room.
Finishing the Minutes of the Meeting
The final paragraph of your minutes should include any closing remarks made by the chair as well as the time the meeting is officially adjourned. If there were any guest speakers at the meeting, record their names and the topic of their presentations in this last paragraph. Sign the meeting minutes and have your chairman sign it, as well. The recording secretary's signature is legal evidence of this document's authenticity, so it's crucial that you sign it before filing it or passing it on to others.
- Write meeting minutes using clear, objective language. For example, say "the motion was adopted after debate" instead of "the members argued for two hours before approving the motion."
- Minutes should never reflect an opinion or make a conclusion.
- Meeting minutes should only record what was done at a meeting, not what the attendees said.
- Sample meeting minutes using Roberts Rules of Order are available on several websites.
Victoria Bailey has owned and operated businesses for 25 years, including an award-winning gourmet restaurant and a rare bookstore. She spent time as a corporate training manager in the third-largest restaurant chain in its niche, but her first love will always be small and independent businesses. Bailey has written for USAToday, Coldwell Banker, and various restaurant magazines, and is the ghostwriter for a nationally-known food safety training guru.