Article Summary

How To Take Meeting Minutes: The Ultimate Guide

iBabs’ State of Meeting Management report for 2024 found that more than a fifth (22%) of respondents to the survey spent over half of their working week in meetings. However, only 65% of those questioned confirmed that someone took and distributed meeting minutes in their organisation. 

With meeting minutes a legal requirement in some circumstances and an essential tool for record-keeping and maintaining accountability in general, this is a concerning trend. Recording the discussions and decisions in an official document is the key to remembering which decisions were made, why they were made and who was responsible for turning them into actions

This article explains how to take meeting minutes and explores the topic of meeting minutes, the different types of minutes, what should be included and tips for creating the most effective record of a meeting.

What are meeting minutes?

The meeting minutes are a document that records the events that took place during a meeting. They are used by companies, non-profits, medical bodies, government organisations and any other sector to provide written evidence of elements such as:

  • Issues discussed
  • Motions put forth
  • Decisions made
  • Actions agreed upon

The minutes are usually distributed amongst attendees afterwards and are approved either before the next meeting or early on in the next meeting. If there is any discrepancy between the content of the minutes and the memories of attendees, they should request the minutes be updated accordingly with the agreement of the other stakeholders. 

The organisation should then keep them on file for future reference and, in the case of some types of formal meetings, as a legal requirement. 

Types of meeting minutes

Executive minutes

Executive minutes summarise the details of a meeting for senior executives who need to understand the gist of the discussion and outcomes but do not have time to get into the full details of the debates. They provide a high-level overview, focusing on outcomes, key decisions and action items. This enables leaders to swiftly grasp the direction and implications of the meeting.

Verbatim minutes

In a case where you require a full transcript of the discussion in a meeting, you might take verbatim minutes. These are word-for-word representations of the events of the meeting. In this case, the person taking minutes might use a recording of the meeting on which to base the minutes, keeping both the written and audio records filed away in case they are needed in the future. These are used for high-stakes negotiations, legal proceedings and other such situations where understanding exactly what was said is essential.

Informal minutes

For informal meetings, the minute taking process is less strict and used more as a memory aid. There will be a more loose structure and the writing will be more casual. Unlike their formal counterparts, informal minutes prioritise flexibility and spontaneity, offering a snapshot of the meeting’s main ideas. This approach is particularly valuable in creative settings or small team meetings.

Formal minutes

Board meetings in corporations, meetings in government bodies and other formal meetings follow strict formats and, as such, must include all of the necessary elements of the meeting including the call to order, the approval of the previous minutes, information on reports and the details of discussions, votes and action items.

Discussion minutes

For a more in-depth overview of the meeting, many organisations use discussion minutes. These provide a detailed account of the discussions that took place and the essence of the debate around the topics under discussion, including the viewpoints around the table and the reasons for reaching a decision. This is useful for strategic planning, where it is helpful to be able to look back at the information from the conversations.

Action minutes

Action minutes are also called decision-only minutes and document simply the decisions that attendees made and the action points derived from them. They do not record the discussions that took place before the decisions, but rather give a broad overview of the meeting. They are used in operation meetings where the objective is simply to accomplish tasks by identifying what needs to happen and who needs to complete the action.

Did you know?

When you use iBabs meeting management software, you can create your meeting minutes directly within the platform. Record votes, proposals, decisions, and action items and easily export everything into a branded document. With iBabs you can turn minute taking from an all-day project into a straightforward one-hour task!

Who takes meeting minutes?

It is important to have a designated minutes-taker for a meeting, but there is no one person who specifically must take meeting minutes. In some situations it is the company secretary, in others it is the executive assistant or the administrative assistant, for example. For the purposes of the meeting, they might be referred to as the meeting recorder or simply as the minute taker. 

The nature of the meeting has a bearing on who takes the minutes. For informal meetings, it might just be one of the attendees who takes minutes, as well as contributing to the content of the meeting. 

The person taking the minutes should be able to follow the proceedings and have the ability to accurately represent the discussions, debates, decisions and action points. 

That person will also usually be responsible for writing up their notes into a more formal format and distributing them to meeting attendees.

How to take meeting minutes: The process

Special considerations

There are certain circumstances in which your meeting minutes might differ from usual. For example: 

  • If there has been an executive session, the minutes must be kept separately from those of the open meeting. They should have ‘unapproved’ printed on all pages to distinguish them from the regular minutes. They should also not feature detailed discussions of these confidential matters, but merely the important discussion points and the final actions and outcomes.
  • In Ireland, there is no obligation to record dissenting opinions in minutes (although it is good practice to do so), except in the case of banks and insurance companies, where the Corporate Governance Requirements for Credit Institutions states that “dissensions or negative votes shall be documented in terms acceptable to the dissenting person or negative voter.”
Archive minutes

You should have a system for archiving your minutes that allows you to find them with little trouble in the future. One reason for writing minutes is to understand what happened if that information is required, so use an easily searchable document management system. 

Save any audio or video files from the meeting, as they can be a handy resource for the future too. 

In some jurisdictions, minutes from certain types of meetings must be archived and retrievable for a set period of time. In the UK, the Companies Act 2006 stipulates that board meeting minutes “must be kept for at least ten years from the date of the resolution, meeting or decision (as appropriate).”

Distribute to get approval

Send the minutes to participants to get approval ahead of the next meeting. You can use email, post or share via the cloud using a board portal

If someone queries anything in the minutes, check to work out if they are right or if they have misremembered. If the consensus is that they were correct, edit the document accordingly and then distribute it again for approval. 

Getting approval before the next meeting means you save time during that meeting, rather than waiting until then to handle comments and edits.

Create a final draft

Once again, creating your final draft as soon as possible helps you be more accurate and comprehensive in your minutes. Check the decisions and actions are noted down correctly and ensure you add them all to your draft. 

Ensure you stick to the facts of the meeting and have enough detail in your final draft to provide a helpful representation of the meeting when viewed in the future. Outline the main arguments for and against a motion, for example. 

When finalising the draft, check you have been consistent with the tense you use and the terms utilised in the document. Make sure the minutes are clear and easy to understand.

Review your notes

Remember to look over your notes soon after the meeting to ensure that they make sense and match your recall of the activities that took place. The further away from the meeting you get, the more difficult it is to correct anything you might have missed or written down correctly because your memory will not be as clear. If you have any queries when looking back over your notes, reach out to another stakeholder who might be able to shed more light on what actually happened.

Collect supplementary materials

The other resources from the meeting will help you create comprehensive minutes. This includes the reports given during the meeting, presentations and any other documents used by participants to illustrate their contributions. Collect these together and reference them whilst writing up the meeting notes.

Take notes during the meeting

As the meeting continues, note down the important details such as the nature of the interactions between members on each motion, the decisions that were taken, the actions that need to be taken and the people assigned to them, as well as the nature of the voting and any other elements of the meeting that require recording.

Start with a minutes template

From the meeting agenda, you can fill in a template for your minutes. Rather than starting with a blank sheet of paper at the start of the meeting, creating this structure means you spend less time thinking about what is going to happen and when, and more time noting down the events of the meeting.

Review the agenda

The meeting agenda provides the structure for the meeting and is therefore a handy guide to which topics will be discussed and in which order. Understanding the agenda helps you anticipate what information will be shared and what needs to be recorded when the meeting takes place, as well as the order in which it will be broached.

Simplify minute taking with iBabs

iBabs provides all the functionality you need to transform the way your board runs its meetings. It comes with ready minutes templates, allows you to distribute and collaborate on your minutes in the cloud and even transcribes recorded video meetings.
Request a Demo Today

Article Summary

What should you include when writing meeting minutes?

Element Explanation
Meeting title or type Is it a board meeting, an annual general meeting, an extraordinary general meeting or any other type of meeting? Note this down for easy reference.
Organisation name List the name of the business, body or group holding the meeting.
Date, time and location To illustrate more about the context of the meeting, note when the meeting took place and where it was held. 
Attendees Include a list of all people involved in the meeting, with their titles and roles in the organisation noted down. Ensure you record those members invited but absent from the meeting and the details of any guests, too. 
Call to order Include when the meeting was called to order and who called it, which will usually be the chair
Approval of the previous minutes You simply need to add a note regarding the fact that the previous meeting minutes have been reviewed and approved. Also, add details of any adjustments made. 
Presentations and reports Summarise the details of reports and presentations given by various committees and stakeholders. List the name of the presenter and the key points and conclusions made. 
Agenda items Note each piece of business in order and include for each section the topic and any sub-topics. Record who proposed them and seconded them. Give details on the major discussion points for each item with the arguments presented and any relevant detail that led towards a decision. 
Decisions made Where there were votes cast or decisions made, record them on the minutes by the agenda items to which they relate. State whether they were passed with a majority vote, unanimous approval or consensus
Action items List the actions agreed in the meeting, along with those members assigned to them and any deadlines decided. Wherever an assignment is delegated, it should appear in the minutes. 
Next meeting Add the details of the next meeting, including the date, time and location. 
Adjournment Note when the meeting was adjourned and by whom.
Signatures Include the signatures of all stakeholders required to approve the minutes. In many cases, all participants will have to sign, but for less formal meetings, you may only need the approval of the chair and secretary. Use wet signatures or digital signatures to demonstrate approval. 
Attachments and annexes You can add in reports and presentations to the minutes for reference, as well as any other useful supporting documentation.

What not to include

Knowing what to add into your meeting minutes is essential, but it is also important to understand what to leave out. This includes:

  • Your personal opinion

As a minute taker, you are required to represent accurately the facts of the meeting. This should not include your feelings on the discussion or outcomes. 

  • Too much information

Unless you are writing verbatim minutes, which is unlikely to be the case for the majority of meetings, you should keep the minutes brief and to the point. This also helps you spend less time writing and more time absorbing information. 

  • Handwriting

Even if you make your notes in pen, ensure you type them up when you finalise your minutes. This means they will be legible and easy to follow for stakeholders. It also allows you to save a digital copy of them, which you can find more easily in the future. 

  • Adjectives and adverbs

As much as possible, keep the language simple and neutral to reflect the facts of the meeting without colouring people’s opinions. 

  • Irrelevant discussion

As with all conversations, meeting discussions can veer off-topic. There is no need to add this to your minutes, as it distracts from their use as a representation of the important business of the meeting. 

  • Confidential details

If confidential information is discussed, it is usually in an executive session, where the minutes are kept separately. If these topics arise in a regular meeting, do not include anything that threatens privacy or security.

Meeting Minutes Template

Ensure an accurate record of discussions with this simple, structured format that documents all meeting discussions, decisions and participant input

Robert's Rules of Order Formal Minutes

Follow an established procedure and perfectly align your meeting documentation with Robert's Rules of Order

Meeting Action Item Template

TStreamline task delegation with a clear list of action items and designated assignees.

Article Summary

Note-taking strategies

Different minute takers have different strategies for taking accurate notes within a meeting. Here are some of the most popular methods to make your life easier. 

Outline method

The outline method is beneficial for ordering your thoughts and breaking down large concepts into their constituent parts. You write the main point or, in the case of meeting minutes, the action item on the left of the sheet. You then indent right below each discussion point, indenting again below those if you need to add any further detail. 

This nesting effect looks something like this: 

Chief executive’s report

  • Management spoke at an industry conference and were well received
    • JS suggested sponsoring the event next year
  • Search for new company headquarters is taking more time than expected
    • DS suggested a new development she read about”

Cornell method

Although usually used in education, this format can help with minute taking, too. In the Cornell method, you divide your page into:

  • ‘Notes’, under which you write down facts
  • ‘Cue’ under which you write any questions that you have
  • ‘Summary’ where you summarise what you have learned. 

This helps you retain the information more clearly. 

Charting method

In the charting method, you create tables to add the information into. You choose the labels across and up the chart according to what you want to achieve. When creating meeting minutes using the charting method, you might want to use a table like this to help: 

Meeting Director 1 Director 2 Director 3
Agenda item 1 Proposed

[Include reasons they proposed the item]


[Include reasons they back the proposal]


[include reasons they disagreed with tube proposal]

Agenda item 2
Agenda item 3

Boxing method

The boxing method allows you to visualise all discussions related to a single topic and the connections between the different topics. It is as simple as dividing the page into boxes or columns with clear headings at the top. As you make notes, add them to the relevant sections and you can more easily find the information that you need as it is in a logical position on the page. This can also be called the double-column or triple-column method and allows you to separate discussion points from action points, for example. 

Digital minute taking

A key advantage of digital minute taking is that you have your notes in typed form, rather than in pen. This can be difficult to read, especially if you wrote the notes at pace.

Skills to develop for effective minute taking

Minute taking is an art and requires someone with relevant skills to be able to carry out the task accurately and effectively. Here are some of the skills you need to hone in order to improve your minute taking. 

Listening skills

You don’t just need to listen to the words spoken, but you need to be able to pick out the pertinent information and record that. The skill to separate the key points of a discussion as it is taking place is essential for accurate and easy-to-read minutes. 

There are elements of active listening at play in a meeting, where the minute taker has to hear the words, but understand the finer details, filtering out what is not relevant at the same time. 


Shorthand helps you quickly make notes whilst not missing too much of the discussion. This could be traditional shorthand or it could be a system that you develop for yourself that helps you quickly capture the key elements. It is essential that you are consistent with the shorthand terms that you use, as you do not want to confuse yourself when you come to write up the notes. 

Organisational and time management skills

The importance of meeting minutes, in conjunction with the preparation needed and the process required to turn notes into a significant document means that you must have exceptional organisational skills. 

The better prepared you are for a meeting, having reviewed the agenda and created a minutes template, the easier it will be to ensure an accurate record of the events. Good organisation also means you can also write up your notes more quickly and distribute them in a timely manner whilst participants remember the meeting.  

Writing and editing skills

Being able to distil complex discussions into simple and concise language is a real skill and important for people who write meeting minutes. They should be clear and easy to understand. 

Your ability to edit the minutes to ensure they are error-free and make sense is another important skill. This attention to detail helps you create a professionally presented document with the correct names, dates and outcomes. 

Communication skills

There are times when you will need to seek clarifications from meeting attendees over something that they have said. Skilled communicators can do so in the meeting without breaking the flow in order to ensure the accuracy of their minutes.

Communication skills also help you phrase entries diplomatically and neutrally, especially in situations where the discussion became heated or where there were discussions on contentious topics. 

Understanding meeting procedures

A knowledge of how meetings run and how they achieve their objectives is important when taking minutes. This familiarity helps with choosing the most relevant information to record and the structure of the document. 

You might have to minute meetings in a range of formats from the informal to those using the Robert’s Rules of Order format. Understanding the different frameworks helps you gain a better overview of how motions are made, discussed and voted on. 

Best practices for minute taking

  • Use the agenda to track key points discussed

The meeting agenda helps you populate your minutes template accurately, as it contains the running order of all of the elements of the meeting. This simplifies the process and allows you to enter the meeting better prepared to complete your task. 

  • Take minutes during the meeting

The notes you take during the meeting will always be more accurate than trying to remember the finer details of the discussions afterwards. It is also more difficult to ask for clarifications when you are not in the same location as the participant you need the information from. 

  • Write clearly and concisely

Avoid jargon in minutes and acronyms too unless you are explicit about what they stand for. You might want to give the initials of the participants, in which case, you should create a key for easy reference. Simple, clear language is beneficial to you and to anyone reading the minutes.

  • Share the minutes promptly

Get the minutes out whilst the meeting is still fresh in the minds of its participants. This helps them accurately approve or challenge and annotate the minutes. It also allows approval well in advance of the next meeting so you don’t have to spend precious time changing them when that could be used for new business discussions. 

  • Be objective and neutral

The minutes should be factual and non-partisan. This allows for a more accurate record of the decisions and the reasons behind them when viewed at a distance from the meeting. Adding personal perspectives could cloud the reasoning and give the wrong impression about why something happened. 

  • Highlight decisions and actions

The most important outcomes of the meeting are the decisions made within it and the actions designated to make them happen. The minutes should reflect this by highlighting both aspects. They should state who is responsible for each action and the deadline for completing it, implementing accountability to ensure an effective meeting follow-up

  • Summarise, don’t transcribe

Capture the essence of the discussion, not the exact words used. Transcribing the debate would make the document too complicated and confusing. The idea of the minutes is to provide an overview of the events.

Traditional vs digital minute taking

Digital minute taking is quicker than using a pen and paper, with a smaller chance of confusion when you sit back down at your desk to review your notes. You do not have to try and decipher your handwriting and, if anything happens to you between the meeting and writing up the minutes, someone else is more likely to be able to understand digital notes than handwritten versions.

Using electronic templates based on the agenda, you can structure the minutes more easily and in a way that makes sense when viewed at a later date.

Tools for minute taking

  • Notepads

A simple paper notepad and any of the above note-taking strategies can help you format your thoughts in order to set out accurate and clear minutes.

  • Microsoft Word

Most people are used to working with Microsoft Office, meaning that Word is an effective note-taking and meeting minute creation tool. Use tables and bullet points to display the information clearly.

  • Google Docs

This works in a similar way to Word, but it provides the chance for multiple users to collaborate easily on the same doc. 

  • Transcribing tools

Using tools like or Descript allows you to upload a recording of the meeting and generate a transcript from which you can add details to your meeting minutes. The downside is that, quite often, these tools can be inaccurate and you will have to listen to the entire meeting while reading the transcript to verify it is correct.

Digital minute taking with iBabs

A meeting management tool that covers all aspects of the meeting, from agenda writing to video conferencing, voting, minute taking and monitoring action point progress via an easy-to-use dashboard. You can gain approvals in the app, with participants able to collaborate in the cloud. 

Easier minute taking

Rather than having to copy up your notes from a notepad to create the document, iBabs automatically formats your notes in an intuitive minutes template, creating a formal document that you can tweak to meet your needs.

Automated distribution

You can distribute the minutes to attendees in the cloud. They can then collaborate and discuss the document, adding their signature and approving the minutes in a simple workflow. Paper notes have to be digitised, printed, sent, edited and re-sent.

Greater security

The security aspect of using iBabs is another bonus. Each user’s account is protected by multifactor authentication, meaning that no unauthorised person can access your notes. This is not an option with handwritten notes.

Article Summary


Meeting minutes provide a formal, accurate and permanent official record of the proceedings and decisions made during a meeting. They serve as an official and legal record of the meeting, ensuring transparency and accountability and helping to track action items and responsibilities.

They are called ‘minutes’ of a meeting because the word ‘minutes’ comes from the Latin phrase "minuta scriptura," meaning "small notes." The term refers to the succinct and summarised style of recording the important information discussed during the meeting rather than the time (minutes) it takes to record them.

For particularly formal meeting minutes, they need to be approved to ensure their accuracy and completeness. However, for less formal meetings, this might not be a necessary part of the workflow.

It is possible to use Google Docs for taking minutes. It allows for real-time collaboration, enabling multiple attendees to view and contribute simultaneously if necessary. However, you have to create your own template for the minutes and work out a way to gain approval from stakeholders.

There are templates for general meeting minutes as well as the full Robert’s Rules minutes and a simplified version in the iBabs Board Meeting Templates Kit.


Knowing how to take meeting minutes in an effective and accurate manner can help your organisation save time and effort, whilst complying with requirements for accurate record keeping. There are many tools to help you in this process, including iBabs which is designed to simplify the workflow and help you turn an all-day task into a one-hour job.

Simplify minute taking with iBabs

iBabs provides all the functionality you need to transform the way your board runs its meetings. It comes with ready minutes templates, allows you to distribute and collaborate on your minutes in the cloud and even transcribes recorded video meetings.
Request a Demo Today