In this guide, we’re going to let you in on everything you need to know about taking minutes at a board meeting: from explaining why they’re important, to giving you some solid minute-taking tips for your next board meeting. Let’s get started!
What is a board meeting?
A board meeting is a gathering of a company’s board directors, where decisions about the direction and future of the company are discussed and voted on. Taking minutes during a board meeting is a significant responsibility, so it’s normal to feel nervous if it’s your first time being tasked with the job.
What are board minutes?
Board minutes are a record of a meeting that takes place between the board directors of any company. Board minutes offer physical and legal proof that the meeting took place, and also offer transparency when it comes to the company’s ethics and practices.
Why are board minutes so important?
Recording board minutes might feel like a waste of office time, but here are just a few reasons why it’s important to do so:
In the case of any litigious matters, a meeting’s board minutes can be used in court to prove that the meeting took place, and that certain decisions were taken on behalf of the company. This can be incredibly important if there are concerns or questions concerning matters of illegality, or decisions that misalign with the company’s established values or aims.
Future company decision making
Nobody remembers all the details of every work meeting they’ve ever had, and the same goes for board meetings. Having a detailed record of board minutes can be a helpful reference for those with decision-making power in the company.
If a company has several investors, partnerships, and donors, these third parties might be interested in evaluating decisions being made by a company they’re investing in. It’s therefore the company’s responsibility to have an archive of board meeting minutes available for analysis, and to make sure that the minutes offer full, detailed information and transparency about the company’s current financial condition, future aims, and other important concerns.
How to take minutes at a board meeting?
In order to take minutes efficiently and produce a record of detailed, relevant information, it’s important to plan ahead. Whether you’re Here are some of our top tips for taking minutes at your next board meeting, whether you’re in charge with taking minutes or in charge with organising the meeting:
Create a meeting agenda
The best way to ensure clear, coherent board minutes is to set out a board meeting agenda beforehand. This will give the person taking the minutes the time to create a clear outline which will make sense if read or studied by a third party. Make sure to also plan your meeting in advance to ensure maximum attendance: if you don’t have an office space available, you can always book meeting rooms in London and conduct the meeting in a rented board room.
Minute taking requires immense attention to detail, so the person assigned to take minutes should be informed of their task well before the meeting takes place. It’s important that a member of the board isn’t tasked with taking minutes, as this will mean they’ll be less focused on the topics being discussed, and important viewpoints will be lacking from the meeting. Ideally, you’ll have an assigned minute-taker at every meeting, as this will keep your minutes similar in style, outline, and handwriting.
Brief the minute taker
Before beginning the board meeting, it’s important that the minute taker be briefed on how to outline and record the meeting’s minutes. Directors may want to emphasise a certain structure to the minutes being taken, or what format to use to record important information. Doing this before the meeting begins is essential, as minutes cannot be amended or edited once they’ve been archived. You should also let the minute-taker know whether or not they’ll be asked to participate in the meeting before the meeting begins.
If you’re taking minutes, it’s essential that you remain objective in your writing. This means sticking to the facts, and avoiding any unnecessary superlatives or adjectives that might be interpreted as biased. It’s also important to record any disagreements or conflict in an impartial way: try to summarise each party’s arguments faithfully, without veering into emotional language or revealing the identity of the board member. To ensure that your minutes are impartial, you can ask a third party to read them over and give you feedback.
Proofread your minutes
Once the meeting is finished, you should proofread your minutes and ensure they’ve been formatted according to the instructions given to you prior to the meeting. Once they’ve been proofread, send the minutes to all the board directors who attended the meeting.
What to include when taking board meeting minutes
When taking minutes in any board meeting, you’ll need to make sure that you log basic important details, including the following:
- Where the meeting took place
- Who was present
- The nature of the meeting
- The time and date of the meeting
- List of those attending
- Non voting participants
- Why the meeting was called
- Any proposed motions (including whether or not these motions were successful.)
In short, you want to try your best to summarise what is said during the meeting in a coherent way. You’ll also want to make sure there’s still enough detail included that a third party won’t have any problems reading and deciphering the document. This is incredibly important when it comes to protecting the company in the event of future litigious matters, as ambiguity in board minutes may be seen as questionable.
You should also make sure to follow the format given to you by your superior, which may vary from company to company.
What not to include when taking minutes at a board meeting
With limited time to get all the important information down, it’s important to know what details to leave out when recording minutes. Here are the most commonly-included details that should be left out of minutes:
Individual opinions and votes
Impartiality is key when writing effective board meeting minutes, so make sure not to name individual board directors when detailing any discussions, proposed motions, or how the board voted. Regarding motions, you should simply note whether the motion was passed or not.
The board of directors might take a pause during a long meeting, during which you shouldn’t take board minutes. Any off-the-record conversations should be left out; this includes personal conversations between board members, and any conversations or debates that occur once the meeting is adjourned.
Don’t summarise visual content or documents
Whether it’s a powerpoint presentation or a physical printed document, don’t go into detail about any content shared or discussed during the board meeting. Instead, save time by simply stating where this information can be found.
The bottom line
When it comes to taking board meeting minutes, the best way to ensure a positive outcome is to plan ahead in advance. Know what topics are going to be discussed, understand the format you’re expected to record minutes in, and make sure to include as much relevant, detailed information where possible.