This is one of the most common questions I receive. The answer is simple and clear – as soon as possible after the meeting.

Business Meeting Minutes – minutes for meetings in the workplace

The trend in business meetings is for minutes to be available within literally minutes of the meeting or, if not, hours. Same day is the general rule. The reason this is possible is that modern minute takers take the minutes directly onto a laptop computer and just email them as soon as the meeting closes.

The best minute takes have almost no editing to do after the meeting so this is perfectly possible. (For training in minute taking visit http://www.minutetaking.com)

Meetings in Volunteer Groups

As soon as you are dealing with volunteers it becomes more tricky because of the mere fact that they are volunteering their time. That said, the minutes are still one of the important working documents for any club or association. 

For a normal or general meeting, (as opposed to an annual general meeting or special general meeting – see below) the minutes should be out within a week of the meeting, ideally within 48 hours. Because many volunteers take the minutes longhand, it often takes them a long time to have the minutes ready for distribution. This is basically unacceptable in today’s world of computers. The research shows that in Europe, USA, Australia and New Zealand and most of Asia, 98% of homes have a computer and so I believe that it should not take more than a few days for the minutes to be prepared and emailed to everyone who should receive them.

Action

If the minutes contain action then they MUST be distributed within a few days of the meeting so that the action can begin. Some minute takers keep a separate document listing the action and this is a good practice. In this case the action list should be distributed immediately after the meeting, but smart minute takers send it with the minutes.

Minutes given out at the next meeting

Sometimes the minutes are given out at the next meeting. This means one of two things.

1. The minute taker has absolutely no understanding of the reason for minutes or,

2. The meetings are just “talk-fests” and nothing is ever decided or done.

So what do you do if you are in a group where the minutes are not sent out in time?

Try asking for them directly from the minute taker. If that does not work, ask the chair or the president if they can “hurry them up”. Thirdly, try moving at the next meeting that the minutes be distributed within 3 days of the meeting. If none of that works, get a new minute taker.

Minute takers sometimes use the delay in order to get some imaginary power. The best way to handle this is to change minute takers quickly.

AGM – Annual General Minutes. – see the blog post called Annual General Minutes under Minute Taking.