How to Take Minutes at Board Meetings

May 20, 2023


Regulations requiring the maintenance of minutes of board meetings, especially by publicly traded companies are an essential part of record-keeping and corporate governance requirements. Such regulations are found to be present in most countries throughout the world. For instance, In the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has mandated publicly traded companies to maintain minutes of board meetings as a part of their corporate governance practices. This is considered to be a fundamental aspect covered within broader regulations related to the responsibilities of boards of directors, such as the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 among other rules promulgated by the SEC.

Board meetings are critical for decision-making, collaboration, and progress within organizations. Minutes of meetings serve as a formal record of discussions, decisions, and action items during meetings. They not only provide a historical account of the meeting but also serve as a valuable reference for future discussions and ensure accountability through assigning and tracking of actions. In this article, Dess explores how to efficiently and easily take minutes of board meetings, along with best practices and strategies to optimize this practice. 

How Board Meeting Minutes work?

As the Board of Directors and corporate leadership meet to make important decisions, the Corporate Secretary, Executive Assistant, Company Secretary or a designated official will take notes and minutes which helps to capture the outcome of the meeting through accurate and comprehensive documentation. The process involves recording key details such as:

  • Attendance
  • Discussions,
  • Assigning new actions and tracking existing actions
  • Approval of different matters
  • Among other board and non-board matters

To streamline this painstaking task, many organizations opt for the Dess Board Portal software solution which comes with in-built minute-taking and minutes-preparation tools. These tools provide automatic preparation of minutes, customizable templates and automated assigning of actions, which make the minute-taking process a lot more easier. This helps the Board to to focus on effectively capturing the proceedings of the board meeting. By utilizing the Dess Board Portal and adhering to best practices in taking meeting minutes, companies can maintain a reliable record of their board meetings, facilitating transparency, accountability, and informed decision-making.

Record Keeping: The primary purpose of board meetings minutes is to maintain an accurate understanding of what  transpired during the meeting. They capture key points, discussions, decisions, and action items. This documentation also serves the purpose of providing a historical reference for future board meetings. Additionally, board meetings minutes are necessary to be written and maintained as per legal compliance and audit requirements.

Communication: Well-crafted minutes of meetings provide a clear summary of the meeting proceedings to internal participants such as Board Members, Leadership, CXOs as well as to external participants such as attendees, invitees, analysts, auditors apart from other stakeholders. They capture important details, enabling stakeholders who were unable to attend the meeting to stay informed. Effective minutes of board meetings also help disseminate information, align team members, and facilitate communication across departments. They serve as a reference document for participants to recall discussions, decisions, and assigned tasks accurately.

Decision-Making: Detailed minutes of board meetings serve as a valuable resource for decision-making. They provide an overview of discussions, alternatives considered, and the rationale behind decisions. Stakeholders can review the minutes to understand the context, evaluate different viewpoints, and make informed decisions based on the information presented. Well-documented minutes ensure that decisions are consistent, transparent, and aligned with the organization’s objectives.

Action Item Tracking and Follow-Up: Minutes of board meetings involve tracking action items assigned during as well as after the meeting. They outline tasks, responsibilities, and deadlines, ensuring that follow-up actions are implemented effectively. With a robust board portal such as Dess Digital Meetings, minutes of board meetings become well-documented which helps to prevent miscommunication and ensure accountability for completing assigned tasks. They serve as a reference point to evaluate progress and hold team members responsible for their commitments.

Best Practices for Board Meeting Minutes:

When it comes to taking meeting minutes for board meetings, leveraging a robust board portal software such as Dess Digital Meetings can enhance the process and help with the best practices. One of the key advantages of using Dess is the unique availability of meeting minutes features which generate minutes as per your existing practices and in line with the culture of your board.

During the meeting, the Corporate Secretary, Executive Assistant or the Company Secretary should utilize Dess to auto-generate minutes of meetings. This ensures consistency in content, making the minutes easier to read. The software also adapts to different templates and letterheads, ensuring that none of your existing habits are lost and yet, complete data relating to attendees, agenda items, and decisions is generated.

A meaningful minutes of meetings comes from capturing the essence of the discussion rather than attempting to transcribe every word spoken. The minutes should provide a concise summary of the key points discussed, decisions made, and actions assigned. This approach allows readers, including board members and stakeholders, to grasp the main outcomes of the meeting at a glance.

Additionally, using Dess’ Board Portal’s digital capabilities, the Corporate Secretary can easily assign and track action items. These features enable seamless collaboration among board members and ensure accountability in following through with decisions made during the meeting. By digitally assigning actions and sending reminders, the board portal software helps drive progress.

By adhering to these best practices and utilizing the features offered by board portal software, the Company Secretary can streamline the process of taking meeting minutes, enhance accuracy, and contribute to the corporate governance standards of the Board.

Prepare in Advance: A key aspect of effective board meeting minutes is preparation. Review the meeting agenda and familiarize yourself with the topics to be discussed. This allows you to anticipate key points and capture them accurately during the meeting.

Capture Key Discussions: Actively listen during the meeting and focus on capturing key discussions, decisions, and action items. Avoid transcribing every word and instead focus on summarizing key points, main arguments, and conclusions. Use concise language to ensure clarity and readability. This activity gets completely eradicated with the Dess Board Management Software Solution which captures and documents meeting discussions automatically for you.

Attention to Detail: Document key decisions, the rationale behind them, and any supporting information provided during the meeting. Include the names of participants involved in discussions or assigned tasks. This information provides context to stakeholders to understand the decision-making process. This activity becomes reundant with the Dess paperless board meetings solution which marks participants and their contributions automatically for you.

Structure and Format: Organize minutes in a structured format to be read easily. . Use headings and bullet points to differentiate sections such as agenda items, sub-items and annexure, discussions, decisions, and action items. A general structure can include the following sections:

  • Date, venue and time of the meeting
  • Names and designations of the Board Members participating in addition to other participants. Names and leave of absence requests of participants unable to attend.
  • Remarks on the previous meeting’s minutes
  • Actions, deliberations and decisions relating to each agenda item as well as sub-items and annexure. These can include:
    • Inputs from each participant
    • Details of actions taken and assigned
    • Future course of action with a deadline date (if applicable)
  • Polling, voting and their outcomes
  • Status of motions introduced, accepted, deferred and rejected
  • Details of actions and items deferred
  • Any items for discussion, business, approval with permission of the Chair
  • Specifications of the next meeting

Proofread and Distribute Timely: Review the minutes for accuracy, clarity, and grammar before distributing them to the participants. Timely distribution ensures that participants have the opportunity to provide feedback or request any necessary revisions while the discussion is fresh in addition to regulatory deadlines. Such meticulous tasks become inconsequential with the Dess Board Portal which comes with automatic content correction, and helps with one-click distribution of meeting minutes.

Strategies for better board meeting minutes:

Collaboration: Collaborate with Board of Directors and other attendees and team members to improve the quality of minutes of meetings and to gather additional information if needed. This becomes effortless with Dess Digital Meetings software solution which provides multi-level and multi-version collaboration features for preparation of minutes of meetings. 

Use Minutes Management Software: Implementing a note-taking software tool works as a minutes management software solution and can make it much more easier to create as well as finalize minutes of meetings. The Dess meetings management solution provides features such as pre-meeting preparation, real-time collaboration, template customization, automatic transcriptions and task tracking.


Effective minutes of meetings are a critical component of board meetings and committee meetings, especially for publicly listed companies and government boards. It provides a formal record of discussions, decisions, and action items, enabling communication, clarity, and accountability. By following best practices and leveraging a market-leading minutes management software such as Dess, boards and governments can optimize note-taking, minutes preparation and minutes finalization. Well-crafted minutes of meetings will contribute to productive board meetings and improved decision-making in addition to fulfillment of compliance norms.

About Dess:

Dess Digital Meetings is the world’s easiest-to-use board portal software for paperless board and committee meetings. Leading organizations in over 25 countries prefer Dess as their choice for efficient and effective board management software.

Dess is committed to increasing the global value of information by leveraging unstructured data to empower the right people at the right time with the right technology. With its group of highly competent and motivated people, it has implemented several first-of-its-kind solutions.

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