The official records of discussion held and decisions taken at a meeting are called minutes. Minutes are generally written by the secretary of the organizational unit which sponsors or holds the meeting. Keeping minutes of the meetings of the Board of Directors, Committees of Directors and General Body of a joint-stock company is a legal requirement, but other organizations also follow this practice. They serve as an aid to memory and provide a basis for action.
Minutes usually contain the main points of discussion, the conclusions reached, the recommendations made, and the tasks assigned to individual members and groups. They are not a verbatim record of the proceedings of a meeting. The emotions and feelings, if any expressed by members during the course of discussion are generally not recorded. A clear, concise, accurate and well organized summary of the business transacted is all that is required Minutes, in fact, are a special type of summary of what happened at a meeting. They are more analogous to a telegram than to a letter.
When you are called upon to write the minutes of a meeting, take down notes carefully at the meeting. Soon after it is over, prepare a draft of the minutes. Before giving a final shape show them to the chairman. Should you have any doubt regarding a statement or fact, check it up with some other member to ensure accuracy.
To facilitate reference give each item a heading and a number. When a proposal or a resolution is approved by a majority, name of the proposer and the seconder may be given and the number of votes cast for and against it may be recorded. In many organizations, however, the practice differs; only a resolution or proposal that was approved is recorded; the names of the proposer and seconder are not mentioned.
The following items are generally given in the minutes. Keep them in mind. It is, however, not necessary that they should appear in the order in which they are listed below:
1. The name of the organizational unit e.g. Finance Committee, Board of Governors.
2. The date, time and place of the meeting.
3. The number of the meeting if it is in a series e.g. Sixth Meetings of the Board of Directors.
4. Name of the chairman of meeting.
5. Names of members present, of those who could not attend, and those who attended by special invitation.
6. Record of transactions.
7. Signature of the secretary and the chairman.
The minutes become final only when they have been read at the next meeting, approved by the members and signed by the chairman. Often the minutes are circulated to members beforehand and then at the next meeting the chairman confirms them after ascertaining that members have no amendments to suggest. If a member suggests an amendment, the chairman signs the minutes after seeking the approval of the members present at the meeting.