In 2021, approximately 7,700 meetings were held across international associations. In the same year, almost 40% of U.S. professionals spent at least 4 hours in video conferences weekly. 5% of these meeting participants were in conferences for over 20 hours weekly, amounting to at least half their total working time.
If you're not keeping track of all the information passing through these meetings, you're wasting time – and money along with it.
That's not to say we should entirely eliminate calls, conferences and one-on-ones from the workspace. According to McKinsey & Company – “good meetings nurture better decision-making”. You just have to know how to get the most out of them.
The answer is a great meeting minutes template that lets you record decisions, make educated plans and reach goals faster.
Why do you need meeting minutes?
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, minutes are simply “a written record of what was said at a meeting”. The Law Insider expands this further – “a tangible record of decisions made, next steps planned and tracking of action items at a meeting”. They're usually taken by one designated member, whose job is to provide an accurate record for future reference.
This may seem an arduous task, with over 75% of BoardPro's poll respondents describing it as “a significant pain point”. However, a good meeting minutes template can make it much simpler.
Now, you may be wondering why you even need to start taking notes during conferences or even short one-on-ones.
Importance of documenting meeting discussions and decisions
Taking meeting minutes has many more benefits than you may initially think. These include:
Avoiding future misunderstandings and misinterpretations – by immediately recording key points, presentations, arguments and their resolutions
Increasing accountability and productivity – when everyone knows their input is being recorded, they're more likely to take their roles seriously and follow through with plans more effectively
Supporting better communication and transparency – many organizations use these notes as summaries of project meetings to keep everyone on the same page, especially absentees and external stakeholders
Serving as a historical reference – for understanding the context of certain actions and drawing actionable conclusions from successes and failures noted earlier
Benefits of using a well-structured meeting minutes template
If you want to excel, you require a well-structured, thought-out template for preparing effective meeting minutes rather than just jotting down random, basic information.
A solid template for preparing minutes has such benefits:
Consistency – a standardized structure makes it easy to find important information. It also streamlines the process of creating meeting notes in the future by eliminating the need to start from scratch each time
Efficiency – a good meeting minutes template guides the note-taker, prompting them to capture essential information in a logical sequence, speeding up and simplifying the process
Clarity – clear headings and well-organized information facilitates skimmable reading to find specific details quickly and promotes brand transparency
Inclusivity – fields to document attendees, their roles and contributions to make sure that everyone's voice is heard while helping to keep track of who is responsible for each task and decision
Ease of distribution – a digital board meeting minutes sample is usually designed to enable easy sharing via email or collaboration platforms
Focused content – structured templates are a way of preventing the documentation of irrelevant information
Below, we've got some free templates that will help you write effective meeting minutes, along with tips on modifying the standard “mom” format.
Meeting minutes template
Meeting Date: [Date of the meeting]
Meeting Time: [Start time – end time]
Meeting Location: [Location of the meeting]
[List of names and roles of everyone present]
[Agenda item 1]
Discussion: [Summary of discussion points]
Decisions: [Decisions made related to the agenda]
Action items: [List of action items assigned and responsible parties]
[Agenda Item 2] …
[Any additional information or points discussed during the meeting that don't fit in the general board meeting agenda but are still relevant]
[List of action items, responsible parties and due dates]
[Date and time of the next meeting planned]
[Agenda items for the next meeting]
[List any attached documents, presentations or materials]
Meeting Minutes Prepared By: [Name of the minute-taker]
Approved By: [Name of the meeting chair or approval authority]
Date: [Date of minute preparation]
Action Items Follow-Ups:
[List any updates on action items from the previous meeting minutes]
Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at [end time].
How to structure a meeting minutes template?
The above is just a simple example of what a meeting template can look like. You can easily create your own version.
First, familiarize yourself with the information your superiors want to see recorded. You may be asked to stick with a specific format, but these are the details that typically should be included:
Heading: Name, address, date, time and location of the meeting
Approval of Minutes: Review and approval of minutes from the previous meeting
Reports: Updates from board members, committees and staff
Discussion Topics: Key items for discussion and decision-making
New Business: Any additional items that need to be addressed
Action Items: List of tasks assigned to individuals and deadlines
Adjournment: Official end of the meeting
Types of meeting minutes templates
Not every meeting minutes template will look the same – nor should it. Here's a list of some of the most frequent types you can come across, along with tips for adjusting our free template to fit them:
Basic meeting minutes template: Ideal for routine meetings that require minimal details. It's used for quick check-ins, small team huddles or one-on-one meetings.
Standard meeting minutes template: Includes the date and time of the meeting, attendance, important topics discussed, decisions made during the meeting, results and plans for the future.
Formal meeting minutes template: Provides more structure for board meetings and visibility for the wider team. It includes the date and time of the meeting, attendance, significant discussion subject matters, decisions made, resulting actions and plans for the next steps.
Nonprofit board meeting template for minutes: Includes the date, attendance, agenda items, motions, voting outcomes and plan for the next meeting (time and place).
Custom meeting minutes template: These can be structured however best fits your organization's needs. It can include such aspects as supplementary documents, actions and the general purpose of the meeting.
How to modify a meeting minutes template
How you write meeting minutes will vary depending on whether you're leading a remote one-on-one or a quarterly board meeting. Here are some tips on what to focus on when modifying the meeting minutes template:
Determine the purpose of the meeting minutes
Choose a template type that fits your organization's needs
Remove or add your section as needed
Customize the formatting
Share the template with everyone that attended or needs to be informed about the meeting
With Plai, you can even create a meeting agenda plan that will turn into a minute sketch, as you add your comments and observations along the way. Here's what that can look like:
If you aim to create a high-performing culture where employees feel rewarded and each meeting pushes you closer to your bold brand objectives, a solid meeting minutes template is necessary. Use the one from this article or edit and customize it to fit your company's needs.
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