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How to write corporate meeting minutes

Explore common requirements, best practices, templates and tools for keeping airtight corporate meeting minutes

By the team at SlackJune 7th, 2024

Keeping meticulous records of corporate meetings may not be the most glamorous task, but it’s necessary for transparency, accountability and—in many states—legal compliance.

Writing effective corporate meeting minutes involves a lot more than simple note-taking. Your average everyday brain dump won’t cut it. You should come prepared with good attention to detail and a strong understanding of which information to include and how to present it.

We’re here to get you up to speed on how to take top-notch corporate meeting minutes, including best practices, legal regulations and detailed templates. We’ll also explore the key reasons why meeting minutes matter. Let’s get started.

What are corporate meeting minutes?

Meeting “minutes” are the official written records of company meetings, including topics discussed and decisions made. Corporate meeting minutes typically include:

  • The meeting’s date, time and location
  • A list of attendees and absentees, including any present board members or officers
  • Agenda items
  • Summaries of all discussion points
  • Details of all activities completed or agreed upon
  • Results of any votes or motions
  • A record of decisions made
  • Action items

Unlike a full transcription, which records everything said during the meeting verbatim, minutes highlight critical details for future reference. Usually, a secretary or another designated employee uses Microsoft Word or Google Docs to record meeting minutes, maintaining a formal tone and style. After each meeting, the secretary shares the minutes with all participants by email or through a cloud solution such as Google Drive or OneDrive.

Meeting minutes vs. meeting notes

Meeting minutes cover the whole scope of a meeting to provide formal, detailed documentation of motions, proposals, resolutions and votes that take place during a meeting. Meeting notes, on the other hand, are usually less formal and comprehensive.

Any team member might jot down the highlights and main points from a meeting to share with other participants in an email or a collaborative Slack canvas. Teams usually use meeting notes to fill in members who couldn’t make it and ensure all teammates stay on the same page regarding updates, decisions, action items and responsibilities.

By comparison, corporate meeting minutes are much more formal and structured. Most states actually require certain types of corporations to take minutes for certain meetings, in which cases the states set legal standards for how the corporate meeting minutes should look and what information they should include. 

Importance of taking meeting minutes

In all but a handful of states, S and C corporations must file minutes for board of directors and shareholder meetings to comply with corporate governance laws and regulations. Auditors, courts and the IRS might refer to these corporate meeting minutes in legal proceedings or investigations. Meeting minutes also help ensure accountability and transparency within a corporation.

Corporate executives might review meeting minutes to recall and confirm decisions and actions. Minutes also help maintain continuity and institutional memory for changes in leadership or board members.

Stakeholders can also use meeting minutes to build project timelines, create progress reports and ensure action items are properly executed. Offering full access to these records helps align priorities across an organization and minimize redundant and unnecessary work.

Legal requirements for corporate meeting minutes

Each state sets its requirement for S and C corporation meeting minutes. Common stipulations include:

  • Minutes must be accurate and complete to reflect the points and outcomes of a meeting
  • Minutes should be prepared and distributed for review within 24 to 48 hours of a meeting
  • Corporations must store their meeting minutes for a specific period, such as seven to 10 years
  • Corporations must make minutes readily available to shareholders, auditors and regulatory bodies on request
  • Minutes must be signed by the meeting chair and the author to validate their authenticity

How to write effective meeting minutes

Corporate meeting minutes should not only comply with state regulations but also provide a useful, informative record for team members and stakeholders. It takes practice to learn how to write effective minutes for a corporate team meeting. These tips can help.

Prepare for the meeting

Find a corporate meeting minutes template (we’ll provide some examples later) so you have a set structure to follow for each meeting. An easy, plug-in framework can help you take minutes more efficiently.

Also, to expedite the roll-taking process, come to each meeting with a list of expected attendees, and check them off as they arrive.

Record the vital details

Minutes should be detailed, but remember: You’re not transcribing the meeting. Pick and choose which points are important enough to record. Here’s what to include:

  • The names of attendees, including absentees and late arrivals
  • The meeting’s topics of discussion, location, date and time
  • Approval of the previous meeting’s minutes
  • Agenda items and a discussion summary for each
  • Significant points and decisions, including reasoning
  • Motions made, including who made them and their outcomes
  • Outstanding items from a past meeting and their status
  • Date, time and action items for the next meeting

Finalize and distribute

After the meeting:

  1. Review your minutes to fill in gaps and revise for clarity, accuracy and completeness
  2. Make sure you’ve noted participants who contributed noteworthy points, decisions or updates
  3. Attach supplementary documents, if any, as an appendix
  4. Save the minutes doc in a centralized space, such as Google Drive or your team’s Slack channel, for easy access
  5. Send a draft of the minutes to the meeting’s chair for review, feedback and approval
  6. File approved corporate board meeting minutes as official records
  7. Once the minutes are approved, distribute them to all relevant stakeholders, including absentees

Corporate meeting minutes best practices

Corporate meeting minutes should be objective, focusing on factual information to eliminate personal biases or interpretations. Also, if you’re taking minutes for a board meeting or an annual general meeting, keep in mind that the minutes might be public record.

Follow these best practices while taking meeting minutes:

  • Use concise language and avoid jargon to ensure clarity
  • List all action items, and assign them to the appropriate stakeholders for accountability
  • If discussion strays from the agenda, focus on the outcome of each discussion point
  • Ask for clarification when necessary to ensure your notes are accurate and complete

Consider leveraging collaborative note-taking tools, such as Slack canvas, which lets you create and share virtual meeting notes in a collaboration-friendly space. Canvas even supports checklists, photos and other graphics, making it easy to capture all aspects of a meeting. And if you hold digital meetings using Slack huddles, you can bring a canvas right into a huddle for real-time note-taking.

Corporate meeting minutes example template

A pre-made template provides a simple framework for taking minutes and ensures you capture all of your meeting’s key details. Here is a corporate board meeting minute template to use as a starting point.

Share corporate meeting minutes instantly with Slack

Corporate meeting minutes should be transparent and accessible to all stakeholders. Slack makes sharing and storing critical information simple while providing a safe, secure space for your documents and other files, so you can share meeting minutes with peace of mind.

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