Minutes have an image problem, and we need to fix it. No one loves their minutes; no one even likes them. Directors need to know how to take better minutes. The hardest position to fill on any volunteer board is the secretary, and then no one ever does anything with their minutes anyway.

An easy fix would be to get rid of them. Most boards are practically doing this already. Once the minutes are finally approved and signed, they are relegated to an official ‘Minutes Book,’ leather-bound, likely dusty, to rest forever on a shelf somewhere or stuffed in a banker’s box and put in the basement. Electronic minutes get saved in an email inbox or cleverly hidden in a share-drive system. None of these storage systems are particularly secure or allow anyone to find the minutes easily.

Steps to Better Minutes

Minutes are mandatory; we must have them. Whether for a nonprofit, condo, or otherwise, the cornerstone of a board-led organization are the minutes. They provide the evidence that the board met, issues were considered, and decisions were made.

Boards invest significant time and effort into their minutes and get very little in return. Other than meeting statutory requirements, what do minutes give us? We place no expectations on our minutes. Don’t blame your minutes; it’s not their fault. It’s our fault. Let’s fix it now!

Solution: Transformation

As directors, recording secretaries, staff or managers, we fulfill our duty and produce these things called minutes. We do so even though the legislation that guides our condos and nonprofits provides us with no specific instructions as to the style, format, or contents.

We leave the secretary to struggle every meeting to decide what to include, what not to include, and how to get the job done. And, finally when signed, sealed, and delivered everyone heaves a sigh of relief, and we move on to the more exciting stuff.

What a waste! After all that work, we abandon our minutes to a lonely existence.

But what if you could inject your minutes with a sense of vitality? Actively used, referenced, and managed – by all directors, not just the secretary. Transform your minutes into a living document that tells the story, the important story of an organization; your condo, HOA, cooperative, charity or non-profit. Having no prescribed standard unleashes possibility and gives the secretary the power to determine the style, format, and contents of their organization’s unique minutes.

The role of the recording secretary becomes vital, exciting, terribly important, creative, and a position in demand.

Principles for Effective Minute Taking


Minutes should be to the point, concise, and capture the essentials. Include who was there, what was discussed, and the decisions made. Formal resolutions or motions should be clearly marked, with decisions prominently noted. Avoid verbatim transcription; instead, aim for a clear record of proceedings that captures the essence without excess.


Minutes need to be produced and reviewed promptly. Legislation requires that minutes be recorded for all board-led organizations. Don’t delay the process; quick turnaround ensures memories are fresh and the record is more accurate.


The account of the meeting must be accurate, capturing the essence of discussions and documenting decisions without bias. The minutes should reflect the unified voice of the board after all debates are settled, providing a clear rationale for decisions based on evidence and informed deliberation.


Keep the language simple and clear. Avoid jargon and unnecessary details that can clutter and complicate the minutes. Summarize discussions succinctly, note key points, and ensure the document is easy to read and understand. Use a readable font and avoid ornate formatting.

Utilization of Technology

Leverage technology to enhance the utility of the minutes. Digital tools can transform static text into a dynamic resource, linking to related documents, embedding actions, and facilitating easier access and retrieval. This approach keeps the minutes alive and integral to the ongoing operations of the organization.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” — George Santayana

Using tools like board management software can make minutes a valuable asset rather than a mere formality. BoardSpace, for example, offers features that enhance the effectiveness of minutes, integrating them fully into the governance process.

Embrace Your Minutes

Transform your perspective on minutes from a chore to a critical resource. Well-crafted minutes can make board operations more efficient and ensure continuity and accountability. They are not just a record; they are an active part of your governance toolkit.

Ask for a demo of BoardSpace to see these principles in action.

BoardSpace is a board management software technology founded on passion and guided by good governance. It is purpose-built to manage the board and its meetings and get things done.