An Organization's Minutes: Taking Minutes People will Read

I've been secretary of many organizations. Taking minutes is a secretary's main job. The purpose of these minutes is to legally protect an organization. Minutes also document an organization's history. But I've seen many sets of minutes that contain too much and are too wordy. Instead of documenting actions, these minutes contain opinions, comments, discussion, wordy accounts, and in some instances, inflammatory words. When minutes are long and involved, members are reluctant to read them. What should minutes contain? Minutes should begin with the vital facts: name of the organization, type of meeting (board, committee, sub-committee, special event, etc.), date, time and place of the meeting. You should also cite the name of the person who is presiding and the names of those who are present. It isn't necessary to state the names of those who second motions; the person who proposes the motion is sufficient. And it isn't necessary to summarize reports that are filed because they are on file. In short, minutes are a record of an organization's actions.

I've been adding something new at the end of my minutes, a summary of the motions that were passed. This enables the officers, members, and auditors to get a quick view of what the organization has been doing and its plans for the future. To foster reading, I list each agenda item in bold and I try to take succinct minutes. "Thanks for the short minutes," a friend said. "They're all I need." If you're the secretary of an organization, resist the urge to include names because people like to see their names in print. Resist the urge to make comments. Attach officers' reports, committee reports, and other correspondence.

These minutes will be documents people want to read.