How to Write Government Meeting Minutes

  • By: Brennan Ward
  • June 10, 2022
writing government meeting minutes

In the recent past, we have seen the development of many solutions that offer organizations phenomenal experiences during their board meetings. For instance, with the help of meeting management technology, it is possible to optimize the creation of minutes, agendas and other action lists during remote or real-time meetings. But to best be able to utilize these solutions, those who participate in local government board meetings should have a basic idea of how to write the meeting minutes correctly.

What are Government Meeting Minutes?

Government minutes provide a detailed record of events or actions during a government committee or board meeting. Though they do not necessarily have to capture everything said during the meeting, the one writing the minutes should be judicious about what they include.

Minutes usually include the title of the group doing the meeting, the time, venue, and date, names of the attendees, those in absentia, and the agenda. Once the written minutes are approved, they become public documents that members have the right to review. This means they can serve a historical and legal purpose to ensure the group is adhering to the association’s proper procedures and bylaws and accomplishing what they set out to accomplish.

How to Write Government Meeting Minutes: 5 Tips

Now that we have understood that minutes are an essential part of the meeting process, we will highlight some key points to consider when writing them. They can be helpful for public education, committees, and boards.

1. Start with a Meeting Minutes Outline

Though different organizations have different structures for writing their minutes, there are vital sections that never change. Here are the main parts covered in a minutes outline.

  • Headboard: This includes the title, venue, date and time when the meeting started.
  • Those in attendance: This is the list of those who attended the meeting. It must separate the attendees from the absentees or those absent with an apology.
  • Agenda: This includes the topics under discussion or what members had agreed beforehand to discuss during the meeting.
  • Agreements and Deliberations: These are typically recorded at the end. There might be another section highlighting outstanding tasks.

At the end of the meeting, the attendees have to determine whether the minutes are valid. If they are accurate, the secretary and sometimes the president signs the minutes to validate them.

2. Write Clearly and Concisely

The following tips will help you increase your minute writing speed without compromising quality and develop a clearly and concisely written document.

Follow your template: Ensure you have a template set up before the meeting. With the help of the meeting’s agenda, you can develop several sections. You can leave a space under each area where you will record details of the discussion.

If you usually tend to vote during your meeting, remember to create an area to tabulate votes. Also, if you are using a template from a previous meeting, do not forget to update the points to match the day’s agenda.

Recording can be an option: If you feel writing notes on-the-fly is overwhelming, you can use your tablet, computer or phone to record the proceeding meeting. The recorded details will act as a source of reference when gathering the main talking points of each agenda. However, it’s best not to transcribe everything into the minutes.

If you decide to go this route, remember to seek everyone’s permission beforehand and ensure the recordings are securely stored.

3. Always Seek Clarification

Miscellaneous or unnecessary details can quickly take over meetings. If you feel you have lost track or a final consensus has not been made, you can stop the diverting discussions until everything is clear.

Do not feel intimidated when you ask for clarification on outcomes, motions or decisions during a discussion.


4. Don’t Write Everything

If you decide to write everything, you might fail to keep up with the speed of the discussion. Instead, cover only the key talking points, including voting outcomes, motions, budget changes and significant decisions.

5. Leverage Board Technology

Board technology enhances and simplifies minute taking, saving valuable time and effort better spent on other tasks. Enjoy automatic integration of data like include time, date, meeting venue, attendees and absentees.

eScribe is one meeting management technology that can further streamline the process of taking minutes. With a variety of configurable modules to seamlessly handle all aspects of the meeting lifecycle, governments can ensure efficient and effective meetings that accomplish what they are supposed to accomplish.

How eScribe Drives Improved Meeting Effectiveness

While well-taken minutes are a big part of a successful meeting, other factors are also important. eScribe considers every aspect of the meeting process—from pre-meeting preparation, to conducting the meeting itself, to tying up all the follow-up items after the meeting—and provides a seamless meeting management solution that makes each of these phases as streamlined as possible.

Some of eScribe’s top features include:

Meeting Manager: Optimize the creation of agendas, minutes, and action items and then run real-time meetings that can be accessed virtually, from anywhere.

Participant Portal: Allow participants to browse meeting agendas and reports, download materials for offline review, add comments or notes, search for previous meetings, and more.

Citizen Engagement: Easily engage your stakeholders by publishing meeting content to an existing website with one click.

Public Comments: Enable the public to make their voices heard by having the ability to post comments before, during and after meetings.

Delegation Request Management: Manage citizen requests to speak during public meetings with an online form.

Report Manager: Seamlessly manage the process for the preparation, approval, and submission of various meeting-related items.

Webcasting: Stream your meetings live on your website.

Vote Manager and Request to Speak: A rules-based way to let participants electronically vote on issues and request to speak.

Board Manager: Publish details on boards, members, vacancies, and appointments.

Check out our white paper to learn more about why more and more governments are embracing digital meeting management solutions.