What is the purpose of minutes?
Minutes are written as an accurate record of a group's meetings, and a record of decisions taken. They are useful because people can forget what was decided at a meeting if there is no written record of the proceedings. Minutes can also inform people who were not at the meeting about what took place.
Who writes the minutes?
It is normal practice for one person at each meeting to be given the task of writing the minutes. It may be the same person each meeting, or the task may be rotated.
What do the minutes contain?
Before each meeting an agenda should be drawn up, detailing the matters to be discussed at the meeting. A set of minutes should normally include the following information:
- Time, date and place of meeting
- List of people attending
- List of absent members of the group
- Approval of the previous meeting's minutes, and any matters arising from those minutes
- For each item in the agenda, a record of the principal points discussed and decisions taken
- Time, date and place of next meeting
- Name of individual taking the minutes
Distribute the agenda about a week before the meeting, so that members of the group have a chance to prepare for the meeting.
Include an item "Other Business" at the end of the agenda as a place to include last-minute items.
Keep the minutes short and to the point. Don't waffle. Don't attempt to write every detail discussed in the meeting. Only take notes of the key issues.
When a member of the group is asked to perform a set task, record an "Action" point, this makes it easy to read through the minutes at the next meeting and "tick off" the action points.
Either write the minutes as the meeting happens or immediately after the meeting. The sooner they are done, the more accurate they are.