What’s the purpose of meeting minutes?

Emily Shine

July 20, 2021

What’s the purpose of meeting minutes?

Taking meeting minutes is important for both historical record-keeping and a reference for guests who couldn’t attend. Despite the nomenclature, meeting minutes don’t have anything to do with actual minutes — meeting minutes are just about documenting the key decisions that were made and what’s to come next as a result. 

Keep reading for helpful tips on how to take meeting minutes effectively, what you should include in your notes, and a simple template you can copy. 

What to include in meeting minutes

Have you been tasked with recording the meeting minutes of an upcoming board meeting? Here’s what your meeting minutes need to include: 

  • Time, date, and location of meeting
  • Meeting attendees (both present and absent listed)
  • Agenda items covered
  • Decisions made during the meeting
  • Status of open action items
  • Action items to be completed before the next meeting
  • Details on the next meeting (date and time)

The right way to record meeting minutes

To record excellent minutes of a meeting, this is what you should do before, during, and after your meetings:

Before the meeting

A meeting agenda should be created before it’s time for the meeting to start. An agenda gives the meeting structure and also provides you with an outline for crafting your meeting minutes and notes. This helps everyone stay on track and ensures attendees are properly prepared for an effective session. 

In addition to creating an agenda ahead of the meeting, you can also pre-fill your meeting minutes template with the information you know ahead of time, like the meeting date, time, location, agenda items, names of participants, and other details you’re already aware of. This way, you won’t waste time during the meeting and miss important discussions.

During the meeting

Meeting minutes don’t need to be a literal minute-by-minute reporting of what was said and done. They do, however, need to capture the most important things that were said in a clear and simple format. 

As the meeting begins, take note of who on the participant list has joined and who has not. You need to know who’s who so you can accurately document who said what — if you don’t already know, introductions at the beginning of the meeting will be necessary. 

While you’re taking minutes of a meeting, don’t try to record every conversation word for word. Instead, focus on capturing the decisions made and next steps. However, if a particular agenda item triggered debate and arguments, be sure to take note of what was said on each side, and what the final decision was. In your meeting notes, record how much time was spent on each agenda item. 

Don’t be afraid to speak up during the meeting to ask for clarification. You might need to clarify the next steps, final decision, or ownership of action items if it’s unclear during the discussions. 

After the meeting

Edit and format your meeting notes for simplicity and clarity. You also want to check for consistent verb tense — past should be used for meeting minutes. Clean up your meeting notes as shortly after as possible, while the content of the meeting is still fresh in your mind. Make sure that your minutes are purely factual and straightforward — there should be no commentary here.

After you’ve finished editing, your meeting notes should be reviewed and approved by an attendee on your team, or the chairperson if you are recording meeting minutes for a board meeting. Once the notes have been approved, share them with all stakeholders and file appropriately. It’s important for meeting minutes to be accurate because they can offer legal protection, as meeting notes are considered official records. 

Simple meeting minutes template

We’ve created this simple and easy-to-use meeting minutes template for you to copy the next time you’re tasked with taking notes of a conference call or check-in.  

[Organization Name] [Meeting Name] Minutes

Meeting date: [date] 

Meeting time: [time]

Meeting location: [location]

Meeting called by: [name]

Facilitator: [name]

Note taker: [your name]

Present: [list names and titles]

Absent: [list names and titles]


TopicTime AllottedPresenterDiscussion and Conclusion
Topic #1
Topic #2
Topic #3


TaskResponsible PartyStatus
Task #1
Task #2
Task #3


TaskResponsible PartyDeadline
Task #1
Task #2
Task #3


Meeting was adjourned at [time] by [facilitator]. The next meeting will be [time] on [date] at [location].

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Emily Shine

Emily Shine is a content writer and SEO strategist who helps purpose-driven organizations and entrepreneurs build their online presence. When she's not behind the computer, you can catch her in the park, gigging on a stomp box, or playing tennis.

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