The difference between minutes and report of a meeting is that minutes are more structured and detailed, and a report is shorter and only covers the main points. Minutes are used more commonly, though some companies also use reports.

What Are Meeting Minutes?

Corporate meeting minutes keep a record of key information for historical documentation. They preserve the business that was done at the meeting, plus the resolutions that were adopted. Minutes also include actions taken by the board, any officers or directors that were elected, and reports from various committees and groups. Minutes are a record of what happened at a meeting, not what was said. Minutes are taken at a variety of types of meetings including a board of directors gathering, shareholder meetings, and manager meetings.

Minutes are useful to look back on and help share information with people who could not attend the meeting. In most companies, the recording or corresponding secretary records the meeting and then transcribes the minutes and sends them to all attendees. The term minutes doesn't refer to the measurement of time, but rather the minute details of what happened at the meeting.

Minutes aren't finalized and approved until the next meeting when they are presented to attendees. In most situations, the minutes are approved by whoever is in charge, such as the board of directors or executives leading the meeting.

What Are Retreat Notes?

For events that take place out of the office, retreat notes create a record of what was done and accomplished. Many companies hold off-site retreats for team-building and planning in a less structured environment. During these brainstorming sessions, many ideas and creative solutions are born.

Many employees take casual notes to record their thoughts or things they want to try later. These notes can be a great starting point for the official report, but they should be vetted before they are included in the official meeting minutes for historical purposes. It would be unwise to include ideas that aren't possible or that won't work.

What Is the Format for Meeting Minutes?

Meeting minutes become part of a company's official record, so they should be formatted the same each time. This not only creates a more cohesive look but also makes it easier to find things in different minutes. Minutes don't need to include everything, but they should be detailed enough to be of use in the future.

All meeting minutes should include basic information, such as:

  • Date and time of the meeting
  • Names of people in attendance
  • Names of people not in attendance
  • Names of guests
  • Reports from the board and committees
  • Any action taken by the board, such as approvals, directives, and resolutions

Notes are different from minutes because they aren't added to the official record. Notes written by an individual during the meeting can include comments made by other people during the meeting. In some cases, confidential or sensitive information is included in the notes, but it is not part of the minutes.

How are Meeting Minutes Distributed?

The secretary in charge of taking the minutes during the meeting is often also in charge of distributing the minutes afterwards. Before they can be circulated, the minutes need to be approved by the chair of the board of directors.

The minutes should be transcribed from the recording of the meeting and any notes that were taken. The written notes should then be sent to everyone on the distribution list and entered into the company's official record. Minutes can also be given to any shareholders who request a copy.

Minutes are made part of the permanent record after they are approved at the next meeting. This means that everyone agrees that the minutes are accurate and can, therefore, be used as evidence in legal proceedings or if needed during an audit by the IRS.

Notes, on the other hand, are not distributed and do not become part of the permanent record. Notes are personal and are often made using shorthand that only the person writing them understands. Notes aren't given to all attendees, although they can be shared with small groups of people.

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