meetings: minutes

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The minutes of a meeting are a record of the circumstances of the meeting, including the names of the participants, the topics discussed and the decisions reached. The minutes should include all essential information in as concise a form as possible, as illustrated in these model minutes.

Guidelines for writing

An organization should use the format prescribed in its rules or regulations. If no restrictions exist, a standardized format should be adopted. Once a format suited to the needs of the organization has been developed, it can be used as a template and stored on the network.

The minutes should normally follow the order in which the business was conducted, even though this may differ from the agenda. They may include the items listed below:

  • nature of the meeting (especially whether regular or special), date, time and place;
  • identification of the person chairing the meeting;
  • the names of participants and of the organizations represented, and of persons who should have attended but were absent;
  • identification of the person taking the minutes;
  • the agenda (if short and if not distributed beforehand);
  • body of the minutes, following the order of business; the motions, their adoption or rejection, and the names of their originators; the names of persons responsible for taking action on the decisions reached may be given in a column at the right-hand margin;
  • motion to adjourn or close the meeting;
  • time of adjournment or closing of the meeting;
  • signatures of the person who presided and of the person who took the notes;
  • distribution list.

Reports from officers and committee chairpersons are sometimes appended to the minutes, as are motions.

Motions and decisions

Special attention should be paid to the wording of resolutions, motions and other decisions, particularly if there is a chance that there will be differences of opinion on what was resolved, moved or decided. If it is a formal meeting, all motions must be written out verbatim.

Indirect speech

Bear in mind that minutes are a record of what was said at some point in the past. Therefore indirect (reported) speech should be used.

Indirect speech involves placing verbs in a past or conditional tense, if they express statements by persons at the meeting (e.g. said, not says; had forecast, not has forecast; would decide, not will decide).

However, the present or future forms of verbs may be used for general statements of fact not directly attributed to participants (e.g. Alberta requires a finance officer). In this example there is no specific source for the statement, other than the minute-writer.

For more information on indirect speech, see quotations: indirect (reported) speech.

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