General Overview of Meeting Minutes
Generally, minutes begin with the name of the body (e.g. a committee) holding the meeting, place, date, list of people present, and the time that the chair called the meeting to order. The minutes then record what was actually said at the meeting, either in the order that it was actually said or in a more coherent order, regardless of whether the meeting follows any written agenda. A less-used format may record the events in the order they occur on the written agenda, regardless of the actual chronology.
Since the primary function of minutes is to record the decisions made, all official decisions must be included. If a formal motion is proposed, seconded, passed, or not, then this is recorded. The voting tally may also be included. The part of the minutes dealing with a routine motion might note merely that a particular motion was "moved by Ann and passed unanimously." It is not necessary to include the name of the person who seconds a motion. Where a tally is included, it is sufficient to record the number of people voting for and against a motion (or abstaining), but requests by participants to note their votes by name may be allowed. If a decision is made by roll call vote, then all of the individual votes are often recorded by name. If it is made by general consent without a formal vote, then this fact may be recorded. Tallies may be omitted in some cases (e.g. a minute might read "After voting, the Committee agreed to...").
Minutes typically include whether a report was presented, a legal issue was discussed (such as a potential conflict of interest), if a particular aspect of an issue was considered, or that a person arrived late (or left early) at a particular time. The minutes may end with a note of the time that the meeting was adjourned.
Minutes are sometimes submitted by the person who is responsible for them (often the Secretary - not the typist) at a subsequent meeting for review. The traditional closing phrase is "Respectfully submitted," (though this is no longer common) followed by the officer's signature, his or her typed (or printed) name, and his or her title.
If the members of the committee or group then agree that the written minutes reflect what happened at the meeting, then they are approved, and the fact of their approval is recorded in the minutes of the current meeting. If there are significant errors or omissions then the minutes will be redrafted and submitted again at a later date. Minor changes may be made immediately, and the amended minutes may be approved "as amended". It is normally appropriate to send a draft copy of the minutes to all the members in advance of the meeting so that the meeting is not delayed by a reading of the draft.
Minutes also record if a task has been assigned ("an action") and to the specific person responsible for completion. The deadline for the task may also be included in the minutes. Reviewing past actions is typically an important part of meeting agendas.