September 21, 2023

Deciphering various types of minutes of meetings

Deciphering various types of minutes of meetings

By Ruth Oji

EFFECTIVE minutes writing is a crucial skill for anyone tasked with recording important information and decisions made during meetings. Whether you’re attending a small team meeting or managing a large conference, accurate and well-structured minutes help keep everyone on the same page and serve as a valuable reference point in the future.

Minutes of Meetings, MoMs, are vital for keeping records of discussions, decisions, and actions taken during organisational meetings. These written documents play a significant role in reinforcing reliable communication channels, providing an accurate account of past proceedings, and ensuring accountability. In this article, we will delve into different types of MoMs to gain a deeper understanding of their various formats and styles, and as time permits, I will share a few samples.

1.Detailed Minutes: These offer a comprehensive account of every discussion, point raised, and decision made within a meeting. These minutes are commonly used in formal settings, such as board meetings, where the recording of precise details is crucial. They include introductions, attendance records, reports from participants, itemized agendas, motions, and voting results. Detailed minutes provide an extensive overview of the meeting and are often the preferred format for legal and compliance purposes.

Short example: -Attendees: Wale Adenuga, Ihechi Owhofasah, Karachi Uche, Glory Emumakpor. – Meeting called to order at 9:00 am. – Discussion points: – Marketing strategy presentation by Wale; – Budget review by Ihechi;  New product launch plan by Karachi;  Each point thoroughly discussed, including specific strategies, figures, and projected timelines; Decisions made: – Approve marketing campaign budget of 2 billion Naira; – Set launch date for new product as December 1; – Meeting adjourned at 10:30 am.

2. Action-oriented Minutes: These focus primarily on recording the tasks, decisions, and follow-ups resulting from the meeting. These minutes aim to capture action items assigned to individuals or groups, deadlines, and any progress made. Action-oriented minutes are particularly valuable for tracking projects, ensuring accountability, and holding participants responsible for completing their assigned tasks. This format is commonly used in project management meetings or team discussions where actionable outcomes are paramount. 

Short example: – Agenda: Team Project Progress Meeting; – Attendees: Felicia, Florence, Christiana, Victoria; – Task assignments: ; – Felicia to complete market research by Friday; – Florence to finalise project timeline and share it by Monday; – Christiana to gather client feedback and prepare presentation for next meeting; – Victoria to coordinate with procurement team for required resources;- Deadline for assigned tasks: end of the week;  Next meeting scheduled for Friday 31 September at 3:00 pm

3. Verbatim Minutes: These involve transcribing the meeting word-for-word, capturing every detail spoken during the session. These minutes are often used in legal or formal settings where preserving an accurate record of conversations is critical. Verbatim minutes can be time consuming and may not be necessary for every organisation. However, in legal proceedings or high-stakes meetings where precise quotes and statements are vital, verbatim minutes provide an invaluable source for reference.

Short example: – Attendees: Henry, Vivian, Richard, Bunmi; – Meeting called to order at 2:00 pm; – Henry: “Good afternoon, everyone. Let’s start by reviewing last month’s sales numbers.”; – Vivian: “Sure, sales were up by 15% compared to the previous month. However, we noticed a decline in customers satisfaction ratings.” – Richard: “That’s quite a concern. We should investigate the reasons behind lower satisfaction and take corrective measures.” Bunmi: “I agree. We can conduct a customer survey to identify the key areas of improvement.” – Detailed discussion followed on strategies for boosting customer satisfaction.; – Meeting adjourned at 4:00 pm.

4. Summary Minutes: They offer a condensed version of the meeting details while still conveying the main points discussed. This format provides a brief overview of the meeting, including key decisions, action items, and any significant concerns raised. Summary minutes are commonly used in organisations where time is limited, and participants require a quick reference of the meeting’s outcomes. This format allows for easy readability and efficient dissemination of information.

Short example: -Attendees: Stephen, Stephanie, Lovelyn, Tryphaena; – Meeting held to discuss upcoming team building event; – Key discussion points:- venue selection; – activity planning; – budget allocation; – Decisions made: – venue: Omu Resort; – activity: outdoor adventure games; – budget: 500,000 Naira; – Meeting concluded, and next meeting date to be decided and communicated via email.

5. Informal Minutes: They follow a relaxed and less structured approach compared to the other formats. These minutes focus on capturing key points, decisions, and action items without following a strict template. Informal minutes are often used in small informal meetings, brainstorming sessions, or internal team gatherings. This flexible format allows participants to contribute freely without feeling restricted by formalities. Informal minutes foster a more relaxed environment while still ensuring essential information is documented.

Short example: – Attendees: Roseberg, Michael, Shulamite; – Meeting started a few minutes late due to traffic; – Roseberg: “So I received an email from the Chief Executive Officer. She wants us to come up with new ideas for the product line.” – Michael: “That sounds interesting. We could explore eco-friendly options.”; – Shulamite: “Good thinking. How about brainstorming on this during our lunch breaks?”; – Roseberg: “Yes, sounds good. Let’s meet again next week and share our ideas.” – Meeting ended with casual conversation about weekend plans.

Understanding the various formats of MoMs is crucial in tailoring them to specific organisational needs. Each format offers its own benefits, ranging from detailed records, action-oriented tasks, verbatim accounts, summary insights, and informal documentation. By selecting the appropriate format and style, organisations can effectively maintain reliable records, enhance communication, and establish a foundation for effective decision-making and accountability.

•Dr. Oji is a Senior Lecturer of English at the Institute of Humanities, Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos