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What are meeting minutes? 

The minutes of a meeting record in writing the proceedings of such meetings. Meeting minutes are very important in the documentation of key points discussed which led to a decision, especially if such decisions required voting on the participants' or attendees' part. Effective minutes are fairly simple to write but they also shouldn't leave out critical information.

How to Write Formal Meeting Minutes

Among 182 senior managers in a range of industries surveyed by Harvard Business Review, 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient. One way of changing your approach to make your regular or monthly meetings productive and effective is creating and using a meeting minutes. In official or formal gatherings such as Senate and Congress sessions,  everything that is said by everyone is recorded so that no one can claim otherwise. Whether it's for a formal or fairly informal meeting, you should be able to create a business meeting minutes that document the session accurately. Here's how.

1. Know the rules.

Different industries and organizations follow a generally accepted set of guidelines in writing business meeting minutes which is Robert's Rule of Order. Ask whether your group follows the same if you're the secretary, since most of the time, it's the secretary that writes the minutes. If you're following any other basic meeting minutes guide, it's still important for you to be familiar with the general formatting rules. You also have to know your role beforehand because it might be limited to documenting which means you may not be able to participate in the meeting itself.

2. List down attendees' names.

Make sure that you have the correct first and last names of everyone attending or present in the meeting. If you're not sure, ask your boss or the person who presides it. Most of the time, a meeting cannot take place without the presence of a particular person or individual. You can also prepare a meeting attendance sheet that the attendees can just fill in.

3. Have a rough meeting agenda draft.

Writing a sample meeting minutes agenda or a rough draft allows you to organize information better. Have a separate section for the agenda as well as time and date of the meeting. Include a space for writing down motions with their corresponding ruling because it is crucial to have a written record every time something is decided by officials or organization board.

5. Everyone should sign it.

In a professional meeting, everyone should sign the meeting minutes, making it an official document which binds all those people to agreements made at the meeting, policies formulated and all such other things discussed. In no way can an official or member back down from the agreements or decisions as therein lies what they had agreed upon.

5. All proceedings should be recorded.

Even when an official or personality objected to an agreement, whatever decisions reached after such objections become official. That is why all the proceedings in a meeting should be recorded, and it is precisely why it is called a meeting minutes. It is an official document which, in many cases, can withstand court scrutiny.

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