Documenting actions taken during a meeting allows topics and decisions of significance to be remembered for years to come. All major interactions in a meeting should be recorded, including when motions are made -- even if the motion ultimately fails.
Purpose of Meeting Minutes
Minutes document the decisions and discussions that took place during a meeting. As a written record, the minutes also can serve as the legal documentation of the meeting. Any type of meeting may record minutes, from the formal corporate Board of Directors to an organization’s staff meeting to a community meeting on public policies.
Taking Meeting Minutes
Exceptional organizational, listening and note-taking skills lend well to recording the minutes at a meeting. Not everything said during the meeting should be documented; instead, focus on the key points, such as:
- The date, time and location of the meeting
- List of attendees
- The main topics discussed
- Motions made
- Decisions that were finalized
- Actions completed
- Any steps that should be enacted before the next meeting
When a meeting attendee wants to introduce a matter for consideration, a motion is made. Usually a motion needs to be seconded -- meaning another attendee agrees the matter should be considered-- to have the motion move forward and discussed. If the motion is not seconded, it is called a failed motion. Even a failed motion should be documented in the minutes, however. Write who made the motion, what the motion consisted of, and that it failed. For example, one method of recording this might look like:
- Motion: All of the computers in the library should be replaced with new and current models. Motion introduced by Bill Smith. Motion not seconded; motion failed.
Motions that are seconded still can fail if they do not carry enough votes. After a motion is seconded and moves forward, the meeting attendees debate the issue at hand. The motion fails if the majority of voters are not in favor of passing the issue. This should be recorded in the minutes as such:
- Motion: All of the computers in the library should be replaced with new and current models. Motion introduced by Bill Smith. Motion seconded by Bob Jones. Vote was 5-2 against; motion failed.