What to Include in Board Meeting Minutes (and What to Leave Out)

What to Include in Board Meeting Minutes (and What to Leave Out)

Dec 20, 2021

Getting your board meeting minutes right isn’t just good business practice – it can save you some major headaches. Taking accurate minutes is legally required in many cases. Even if it isn’t, it’s still a good idea to have a record of any major decisions that your board of directors made.That said, you don’t want to include absolutely everything in the official record – whether it’s your board secretary’s awkward dad jokes or unnecessary adjectives and adverbs – so knowing what to include and what to leave out is important.Here are our top tips and tricks for taking good board meeting minutes – and how you can use AI note-taking tools to get more from your next meeting.

Why should you take board meeting minutes?

Board meeting minutes: Leslie Knope at a meeting

Taking notes for any type of meeting is always a good idea, but it’s especially important for board meetings, which tend to happen less frequently but have higher stakes.When board members meet, they may discuss new initiatives, review the latest financial report, and make major decisions about the direction of your organization.Here are three reasons why having effective board meeting minutes is so important:

1. Fulfill legal obligations

First, depending on the structure of your organization, taking meeting minutes may be a legal requirement. For example, if you’re a nonprofit, you may need to submit minutes to the IRS in order to demonstrate and maintain your tax-exempt status.Publicly held companies and other institutions may also need to take minutes to show that they’re adhering to their corporate bylaws.

2. Keep accurate records

Even if you aren’t legally required to take meeting minutes, they may still be useful to have for future reference, especially as your board members change over time.Your current board members may want to review minutes from a previous meeting to understand why a decision was made and whether to revise it or stick with it.

3. Transparency

Finally, some organizations make their minutes available to shareholders, donors, or the general public for the sake of transparency. While this isn’t right for every organization, it can be a good way to address PR issues or concerns about conflicts of interest.

How to take effective board meeting minutes

Board meeting minutes: Woman saying "Talk amongst yourselves."

Taking good board meeting minutes may sound like an easy task, but it isn’t always as straightforward as it seems. If none of your board members are prepared to take notes, you might need to delay your meeting or risk missing important details.To avoid any issues, make sure that the note-taker knows what to include in the minutes – and what to leave out – and that they have the tools to take notes properly.Here are a few tips for getting started and putting together a template:

1. Choose a note-taker

First, designate someone to take notes for you. This might be the board secretary, who is hopefully familiar with the agenda items and board members already, but it doesn’t have to be – especially if they’ll be delivering a committee report they need to focus on.Still, it’s the secretary’s responsibility to make sure that note-taking actually happens and to send the board meeting minutes for approval or amendment.It’s also important that the note-taker and facilitator aren’t the same person, so they can both focus on doing their job effectively.You can learn more about how to run a board meeting here, with tips like how to reach a quorum and how to use Robert’s Rules of Order.

2. Create a template

Next, you’ll want to put together a board meeting minutes template based on the meeting agenda. This will save you from adding agenda items to your notes during the meeting, so you can direct your attention to what’s happening during each part.All you have to do is make a list of the agenda items in the order they’ll be addressed, and you can add notes to each section as you go.If your board of directors will meet regularly, you can use a copy of the minutes template from a past meeting at your next board meeting.

3. Use the right tools

Regardless of the type of meeting, using the right tools and note-taking software is key. Some virtual meeting platforms have built-in note-taking tools that allow you to upload the agenda directly into it before the meeting.You can also use software like Anchor AI, which uses artificial intelligence to take notes and transcribe your meeting for you. With Anchor AI, you won’t miss important details.

Board meeting minutes best practices

Now that you know how to take meeting minutes and why they’re so important, let’s take a look at some board meeting minutes best practices:

What to include

First, what should go into your meeting minutes? Don’t assume that just because all of the key board members were present, they’ll remember every last detail – or that other people who read your notes will have the same basic information.Always include the following info, even if it seems like a given:

  • Organization: What’s the full name of your company or organization?
  • Location: Did the meeting take place in an office? Or was it a virtual meeting?
  • Date and time: When was the meeting called to order? Did it start on time?
  • Participants: Who attended and what were their roles on the board?
  • Motions: Who made a motion and who seconded it?
  • Votes: What was the outcome of any votes? In favor or against?
  • Adjournment: When did the meeting conclude?

This is just the basic information that your notes should contain, but they should be as thorough as necessary to avoid any misinterpretations or confusion.

What to leave out

Woman wondering about high salary

That said, meeting minutes aren’t meant to be a verbatim transcript, and there are things you should leave out, both for expediency and for legal reasons:Individual votes: Although you’ll need to record the outcome of votes, you may not need to write down how every board member voted. (Unless you’re voting on executive pay – the rules for this are a little more complicated.)Legal issues: Whether you’re a corporate entity or a tax-exempt organization, entering unnecessary political or legal commentary into the written record can get you into hot water. Keep these discussions off-the-record when possible.Opinions: Your meeting minutes should be as objective as possible. Make sure the note-taker uses neutral language in the minutes, and doesn’t include negative or positive commentary on motions or discussions.

Format and approval

Finally, use the same format every time for consistency’s sake, and remember that your minutes aren’t complete until they’ve been read and approved by all board members!

Use Anchor AI to take your board meeting minutes

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Taking board meeting minutes isn’t negotiable – but deciding who gets to take them is. Your note-taker needs to know what to include, what to leave out, and how to get them approved so they become part of your organization’s legal record.To save time, you can use Anchor AI to transcribe your meeting and take notes for you. Whether you need a full transcript of a team meeting or notes for a special meeting of the board of directors, you can customize Anchor Ai to meet your needs.Anchor AI can identify speakers and action items, helping you capture the most important parts of the meeting for future reference.Sign up now, and get ready to invite Anchor AI to your next board meeting!

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