Taking Minutes

Keeping an official record of what occurs at chapter meetings is one of the primary responsibilities of the secretary. The process of recording minutes can give this individual a deeper understanding of the issues faced by the chapter along with an ability to focus on what’s important.

Chapter meeting minutes also provide the chapter with a record of its work and accomplishments throughout the year. The minutes serve as a reference for the upcoming year regarding activities that are annual chapter events.

In keeping the minutes, the secretary should record what was done at the meeting in an objective and impartial manner. Opinions, favorable or otherwise, should not be recorded. The secretary should concentrate on getting the gist of the discussion and taking enough notes to summarize it later. Think in terms of issues discussed, major points raised, and decisions taken.

There are several organizational steps the secretary can take to make the job easier:

  • Make a master attendance list of everyone and just check off each person’s name as they arrive.
  • Prepare an outline based on the agenda ahead of time and leave space for notes. By having the topics already written down, the secretary can easily switch to a new topic when the discussion moves on.
  • Develop standard forms for motions to fill in during the meeting that must be completed by the person making a motion and submitted. This helps ensure that the correct wording of motions is entered into the minutes.
  • After the meeting, type up the minutes as soon as possible, while everything is still fresh. Include the following items in the minutes:
    • Name of the group or committee
    • Place, time, and date of the meeting
    • Names of members present
    • Names of members excused or absent
    • Items discussed in the order listed on the agenda

Briefly describe main points discussed and actions taken such as motions, votes, resolutions, etc. It’s a good idea to attach a separate sheet to the minutes that summarizes all action items for future reference. Carefully proofread the minutes before submitting them and be sure to have the minutes approved by the president, committee chair, or adviser before distributing them to the members or posting them online.

Notetaking Tips

  • Listen for key words
  • Try to capture basic ideas or the essence of a discussion
  • Don’t write down every word
  • Use last names or initials for recording names
  • Take corrections constructively
  • Write or type quickly
  • Abbreviate words