Minute by Minute: How to properly take notes during a board meeting

November 2, 2022
Posted in Blog
November 2, 2022 Sasha Cancél

For thousands of years, communal leaders have been gathering privately to discuss matters that affect society as a whole. Most of the time, these conversations took place in intimate get-togethers—and those outside the petite comités wanted an in on what was discussed. The result is minutes, a written account of what was discussed internally, transmitted as a means of communicating the subject matters that were considered during the reunion. 

Originating from the Latin minuta scriptura, which roughly translates to “note writing”, the practice of jotting down the key pillars of a meeting has been an important part of developing a record of the topics discussed by organizations and collectives. Not to be confused with verbatim transcriptions, the objective of minutes is to summarize the most important discussions, which can then be archived and kept as part of the group’s history and legal records (made available to other members of the community who are being represented by those in the meeting).

In associations, the secretary is usually the person responsible for minutes—their responsibility is to keep track of all the proceedings and decisions that will affect the larger body (i.e. a building). This provides a detailed breakdown of the association’s future plans, allowing all participants to understand who are the stakeholders of certain activities, what are the actionable items, deliverables, and the deadline. Commonly, the minutes serve as a means to create an agenda for future meetings, giving everyone time to touch base on what was addressed, solved, or still pending. Minutes can be re-written and re-submitted if the group doesn’t agree or requires amendment procedures. 

To maximize your minute-taking, here are some tips:

  • Prepare ahead of the meeting. We suggest recording the conversations using your phone’s voice note app, and also bring a pen (or two), enough paper, and/or your computer. 
  • Find a template that works for you. There are several available online that can make the job easier—or you can develop your own from scratch.
  • If creating your template, include names of the participants and decision-makers; the purpose of the reunion; a summary of important information; decisions and roadmap to fulfilling them; pending items or discussions; team’s role and responsibilities.
  • Be smart about what you record. Not every word has to be transcribed. Keep an eye out for important dates, names, specific projects, and budgets discussed. 
  • If the meeting is taking place virtually, let everyone know that it will be recorded for future reference and as support for the note-taking process.
  • Deadlines should always be linked to the particular person or project in charge of meeting the deliverables. 
  • Transparency and accountability will help track of the association’s progress. Having timelines or to-do lists can be very helpful.
  • Always include the time and date of the meeting, a roll-call of who attended and who was absent, any modifications to the agenda or minutes from previous meetings, and motion outcomes.
  • Stay objective. Write down all information that’s critical to the association (not just what you think will benefit it). Be impartial.
  • Backup and save the digital information. ONR allows boards to upload and share important files onto the association’s server, keeping a record of each meeting and permitting the unit owners and tenants to access the document whenever needed. 

Final thoughts:

Maintaining a record of our activities has been an integral part of our history as humans; in the case of associations, it’s also a great tool to track the organization’s progress, demand accountability, and integrate the whole community. 

Using ONR as your association’s integration platform is the easiest and most dynamic way of keeping minutes organized and everyone informed through the public board.