Author P. Michael Nagle writes “It is crucial to the conduct of any meeting that the chair be composed, organized, soft-spoken, equitable, and obviously in charge without being overbearing” (Meetings & Elections: How Community Associations Exercise Democracy). If the chair fails to control the meeting, the resulting chaos will be reflected in the minutes.
Sounds like a tall order, are you up to the challenge? To minimize the headaches of minute taking, follow these useful guidelines:
- Procedures – follow standard parliamentary procedure (more commonly known as Roberts Rules) for all meetings. Precise minutes are vital as a legal and permanent record of proposals, decisions and reports of meetings. The secretary usually takes the minutes, although the task may be delegated to someone else (eg. the manager).
- Summarize actions taken – be brief, recording only what was done, not what was said. It is sometimes important to record an introduction and background statement to permit an understanding of what shaped the decision process.
- Agenda – follow the order of the agenda. At the start of the meeting, the agenda should be approved, or amended and approved, to ensure all topics for the meeting are included.
- The basics – begin the minutes with the full name of the association, date, time and place of meeting, who is meeting (owners, board, committee), as well as the type of meeting (regular or special). List all attendees names, their board status (if any), proxies represented, the “elected” chair and the minute recorder.
- Reports – any reports of officers, committees, management or other, should be referenced as “attached”.
- The business – resolutions are the specific results of motions made and the votes on those motions. State the maker of the motion, whether it was seconded, the result of the vote, a statement of whether the motion passed (unanimous?) or failed, any abstentions or dissentions, and the exact wording of the resolution as re-stated by the chair.
- Conclusion – the last paragraph should state the time of adjournment. The meeting secretary finalizes the minutes as soon as possible, signs them as “submitted” and distributes them for approval.
- Approval – at a subsequent meeting, the board (or an appointed committee) approves the prior meeting minutes. Minutes are not an official record until approved. The approved minutes are finally added to the corporate record (the minute book), distributed to the membership, or made available for viewing.