two women taking meeting minutes

How to Take Meeting Minutes Effectively (with Templates)

2023-10-209 mins

"A meeting is an event where minutes are taken and hours are wasted."

Although many people will doubt the latter part of this sentence, nobody will deny the importance of taking meeting minutes. 

Meeting minutes provide structure to your meetings, saving time and boosting productivity. As such, it shouldn’t be a daunting task.

This guide will give you a hand as it covers everything about how to write meeting minutes, with best practices and templates.

What are the meeting minutes?

Meeting minutes, also known as m.o.m. (minutes of meeting), are a written record of what happened in the meeting. They capture the decisions made, the action items assigned, and any other important information discussed.

Meeting minutes serve as an official record of the proceedings that can be referred back to later and sometimes are strongly required for legal reasons (for example, board meetings).

An interesting fact about meeting minutes is that the word ‘minutes’ has nothing to do with time. Instead, it originated from the Latin word minutia, meaning trifles or details. In other words, meeting minutes are supposed to capture the accurate details of a meeting that can often be overlooked or forgotten.

Who is responsible for taking meeting minutes?

Typically, the responsibility of recording meeting minutes falls on the secretary unless another attendee is designated. 

In case there is no specific role for this in your organization, the responsibility can be rotated among attendees. Don’t worry; even a beginner will know how to take minutes for a meeting after reading this detailed guide.

Alternatively, you can use an AI note-taking tool like Notta. It will record the conversations with audio (and video if you are holding virtual meetings) and generate a word-by-word transcript so you won't miss any important details. When the meeting is over, Notta AI also automatically creates a meeting summary that includes action items and smart chapters, making creating and circulating meeting minutes much easier

AI Summary

The 3 common types of meeting minutes

  • Action minutes

Action minutes are the most common form of meeting minutes. It only records decisions management makes and any tasks they assign.

  • Verbatim minutes

Verbatim minutes are a more detailed note-taking method. It involves having a word-for-word account of the complete meeting. But this makes skimming through notes challenging.

  • Discussion minutes

Discussion minutes are something in between that record all discussion topics and the decisions and actions as a result of them. 

Why should we take minutes for a meeting?

Well-crafted meeting minutes serve several purposes:

  • Keep the team aligned. By providing an official record of what was discussed and agreed upon during a meeting, meeting minutes allow the absent attendees to stay informed. 

  • Increase accountability. Recording any actions that need to be taken, including who is responsible for each action and the deadline, can keep the participants accountable and ensure that tasks are completed on time.

  • Legal protection. In cases of disputes or conflicts, the meeting minutes that document meeting details can be used as evidence, especially in the case of formal meetings like board meetings, staff meetings, and corporate meetings. 

In conclusion, taking meeting minutes is an essential task that can provide numerous benefits to individuals and organizations. And below we will offer a detailed guide for doing that.

How to take meeting minutes effectively? (step-by-step guide)

Before writing anything down, you should understand what is expected of you as the meeting-minutes taker.

Consider these five steps to create meeting minutes since they'll make your notes organized, concise, and complete:

  • Choose a meeting minutes format

  • Preplan your notes

  • Document decisions and action items

  • Review and polish your notes

  • Share and store the meeting minutes

Step 1: Choose a meeting minutes format

In most cases, the format is based on the meeting’s agenda. And instead of snatching a piece of paper to jot meeting minutes onto, coming prepared with a template will make the note-taking process more productive

Different people will talk about various topics during meetings, and you may struggle to record vital facts. But with a template, the headings and tables are already prepared. You can focus on listening rather than having to underline and draw tables.

We’ll provide a free meeting minutes template that you can apply at the end of this post.

What should be included in the meeting minutes?

  • Name, date, time, and location of the meeting. This information should be put at the top of the meeting minutes so they can be identified at a glance.

  • Attendees. List the names of all attendees, including those who are present and who have sent apologies for skipping the meeting.

  • Purpose of the meeting. A short sentence about why this meeting was called and what it hopes to achieve.

  • Agenda items. Include a copy of the meeting agenda in the meeting minutes, which outlines the topics to be discussed. 

  • Discussion. Provide a summary of the discussion points and decisions that were raised during the meeting. 

  • Action items. This should include who is responsible for each action item, the deadline for completion, and any follow-up actions required.

  • Adjournment. Indicate the time that the meeting was adjourned.

  • Signature. The meeting minutes should be signed by the person who took the minutes and the chairperson of the meeting.

Never include the following in your meeting minute records: 

  • Arguments between meeting attendees

  • Different personal views

  • Withdrawn motions

  • Detailed reviews of reports or presentations - focus on key points and highlights instead.

Step 2: Preplan your notes

A bit of planning will make a big difference.

An agenda has to be prepared before the meeting. So firstly, review the meeting agenda and any relevant documents to have a clear understanding of the topics to be discussed.

Secondly, make sure to document the pre-determined information like the date, location, and purpose of the meeting before it commences so you won’t be in a spin afterward.

We also recommend speaking with the meeting chairperson about what is expected of you when recording the meeting minutes. For example, they may want you to include the names of individuals who seconded a motion.

Step 3: Document decisions and action items

In this step, you will fill in the meeting minutes template with what is discussed, decided, and planned in the meeting. 

Be careful not to write verbatim as you don’t want the meeting notes muddled with unimportant details. Not to mention it is almost impossible to capture everything.

Instead, focus on the essentials and put emphasis on:

  • Decisions: What decisions are made and the reasons behind them? (if there is a voting process, also note down the outcome of votes).

  • Action items: Document all the agreed action items with the responsible personnel and deadline.

Knowing what's important is challenging when starting out, and you'll have unnecessary long meeting minutes. But this is okay. As you get used to writing notes, you'll get a feel for if something is crucial or if you can omit it.

Pro tip: Always write notes on your desktop and avoid pen and paper because you’re going to share them. With digital writing, you won't have to transfer these notes from paper to an online document, saving precious time.

Step 4: Review and polish your notes

After the meeting, immediately record any notes that you need to catch up on while they are still fresh in your mind. If you notice unclear sections, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification and polish the words to make them easy to read and understand.

Pro tip: Take your audio recording and create a transcript with Notta so you can review everything said during the meeting and fill in any missing information in your meeting minutes. 

Moreover, you should further proofread your writing and remove any spelling errors as the chances of spelling errors are high when you type quickly.

Once your notes are clear and error-free, try summarizing them into a few paragraphs because your team doesn't want to read several pages. And if someone is looking back at old meeting notes, they can skim through them without reading walls of text.

Step 5: Share and store the meeting minutes

You made it! And only one last step to success: distribute your meeting minutes to all attendees and relevant stakeholders, then store them in a safe place.

  • If your meetings are casual, copy and paste the critical decisions and actions into an email and forward it to your team. This way, everybody gets access to your meeting notes in an email format.

  • If you’re holding a formal meeting like a quarterly business review, you could share the document via team collaboration software.

For safe storage, you may put the meeting minutes into your team wiki. So in the coming months, if someone needs to refresh their memory, they can search for your notes in the wiki. Most wikis use Cloud, so it's accessible to your whole team. 

Best practices for writing meeting minutes

Now you know how to take meeting minutes step-by-step, here are some best practices that will make you a pro:

  • Be clear and concise. Meeting minutes should be easy to read and understand. Use clear language and avoid unnecessary jargon.

  • Be objective. Meeting minutes should be an objective record of the proceedings. Avoid including personal opinions, and stick to the facts.

  • Ask for clarification. As the minute-taker, don't be afraid to ask for clarification when necessary to avoid misinformation.

  • Record it. If you are allowed, record the meeting audio using your phone or other recording devices, which will aid your minutes-taking task.

Free meeting minutes template

Our team has put together two minutes meeting template for informal and formal meetings; you can directly apply them or make some customizations based on your needs.

1. General meeting minutes template

[Meeting name]

The meeting was held on [insert date] at [insert time] via [insert platform].


  • Names of present attendees

  • Names of absent members


  • [Insert agenda item 1]

  • [Insert agenda item 2]

  • [Insert agenda item 3]


  • [Insert discussion point 1]

  • [Insert discussion point 2]

  • [Insert discussion point 3]

Action Items

[Item 1] assigned to [Name] 

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on [insert date and time] via [insert platform].


The meeting was adjourned at [insert time].

2. Board meeting minutes template

Meeting Information

  • Meeting Date: {insert date of meeting}

  • Meeting Time: {insert time of meeting}

  • Meeting Location: {insert location of meeting}


  • Chairperson:

  • Secretary:

  • Presiding officers:

  • Absent board directors:

Agenda Items

  1. Call to Order

  2. Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes

  3. Reports

    • President's Report

    • Treasurer's Report

    • Committee Reports

  4. Old Business

    • {insert old business item 1}

    • {insert old business item 2}

    • {insert old business item 3}

  5. New Business

    • {insert new business item 1}

    • {insert new business item 2}

    • {insert new business item 3}

  6. Announcements

Action Items

  • {insert action item 1}

  • {insert action item 2}

  • {insert action item 3}

Next Meeting




Meeting Adjourned

The meeting was adjourned at {insert time the meeting was adjourned}.

Final thoughts on taking meeting minutes

Meeting minutes save time because it's like a guide that keeps your meeting on track. It also holds your team accountable since tracking decisions, action items, and due dates is seamless.

So if you're looking to implement meeting minutes into your work processes, the five-step method listed above is a solid starting point.