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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.

26 Responses

  1. Especially for master of meetings we have developed ouractionlist.com which captures your action lists in one single joined up place and automatically distributes and follows up progress.
    Unique revision flow for new due date

    Try us

  2. i am a member of an association of chalet owners – the directors of the company are supposed to represent us to manage communal land but they are very controlling and devisive. The minutes are normally issued 1 year after the AGM so at this year’s AGM we asked for them sooner. They agreed to issue them with a newsletter, but will not commit to when the newsletter will go out. I asked for them today (one month after last AGM) but was told I must wait for the newsletter, whenever that may be. They have refused to set up a website. What can we do?

  3. We are living on a residential park home site.
    We now have a formal residents committee and have started meetings, with formal minutes.
    The chairperson has dictated that the minutes will not be available
    until our next official meet which is 12 months hence.
    I have asked, because of my previous experience to receive the minutes asap,as I am not happy for us to wait.
    Chairperson has once again stated she is sticking to her rule of next meeting.
    Clearly many not happy, what can we do? or is the chairperson
    allowed to make and keep this rule.
    Kind regards.

  4. I have recently been involved in a informal meeting with several others, which was initially to put our points across and voice our complaints. Minutes were taken in the meeting, which we have not received a copy of.
    Could anyone shed any light on whether we are allowed a copy of these minuets by law as the situation has escalated and desperately need a copy of them minuets.
    I hope someone can help.
    Thank you.

    1. If you attended a meeting and you are a full member of the organisation, you are entitled to a copy of all minutes.
      If they are not provided, then that is difficult and you may need to get legal advice as to ho to get them.

  5. Appreciating the dedication you put into your website and in depth information you present.
    It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed information. Excellent read!
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  6. I am a member of a social club. Members are not invited to Committee meetings. As a fully paid member, who has not attended the meeting (ie not invited) am I entitled to a copy of the Minutes of the meeting. In this particular instant, the committee decided action against me. The committee has refused my request for details of the allegations made against me. The minutes are the only way I can ascertain what I have allegedly done.

    1. Minutes should be sent out immediately after a meeting. Generally within 24 – 48 hours.
      Many minute takers think this is unrealistic but there are many minute takers, myself included, who get the minutes out within a few minutes (literally) of the meeting closing. My record is 90 seconds. I do minutes directly onto a computer as the meeting is running so it is very easy.
      You may like to keep an ey out for my online course on minute taking which will be ready shortly. https://www.davidprice.com/learn-online-2/

  7. I have requested minutes from the last board meeting at my previous job, because I was discussed in the meeting. How long legally do they have to get me the minutes or at least respond to me? It has been 5 days now and no response. How do I go about this correctly?

    1. Ideally minutes should be sent out within 24 hours.
      It takes no longer to actually write the minutes if you do them immediately, or three weeks later, in fact it’s quicker if they are done sooner!

  8. The social workers had a conference meeting 3weeks ago and i am still waiting for minutes from it.
    How long ago should i have been sent them?

    1. Hello Kaylee and thanks for your question.
      I recommend that minutes should be out within 24 hours. Most good minute takers manage that easily,
      A week is the outside time you should be waiting.
      The strange thing about minutes is that the longer you take (as the minute taker) to do the minutes after the meeting, the harder they are to do.
      I train a system where the minutes are completed as soon as the meeting ends. It’s easy to do and the minutes are very effective.

      My suggestion is to ask (by email so there is a record) for the minutes. Three weeks is not reasonable in anyone’s world and it also makes them meaningless.

  9. HI David,

    Can Minutes be taken electronically (i.e. phone) and then saved as a back up?
    Our Club Secretary has told everyone that it is illegal to publish Meeting Minutes. If that is not true, where could I reference that Regulation?
    I have also been denied copies and access to our Club Policies after 4 formal requests. What laws is being broken here and where can I reference that Regulation.

    1. The minutes should be available to to anyone who was entitled to attend the meeting, whether they were present or not.
      I can think of no circumstances where it would be illegal to publish minutes. They are the property of the organisation.
      Finding the reference depends on where you are – which country.
      However broadly – start looking in the organisation’s rules or constitution. Then go the legislation your organisation operates under. In Australia it would be the Association Incorporation Act.

  10. Our sports club committee is refusing to send minutes by email to all club members siting that not all members will welcome extra ‘spam’ in their email. A copy is left in a folder at the club but it is usually buried underneath other paraphernalia on the Captain’s desk, or, members just forget or didn’t know, that there has been a meeting. Also, should all correspondence be available to all club members, as there is nothing attached to the minutes in the clubhouse; and the minutes do not give adequate information to even understand what the topic is about. Thank you.

    1. Someone does not want to be transparent which usually means something is going on that they do not want the wider membership to know. It is a power play.
      Every member should receive the minutes by email – it is 2021. Minutes need to contain enough information for people reading them to know what the topic and issues were and what was decided and why.
      Ask them what they don’t want people to see and insist on the minutes being emailed. You may have to get support from other members.

  11. Hi, I am being moved from a night shift that I have been on for 18 years to days, I have had one meeting over 2 weeks ago and I have still not seen to sign the minuets. I am told they will tell me when they want to to change and I have no say in this. So my question is this, as its over 48 hours can I still be expected to sign the minuets if they turn up or can I request a new meeting as I can now not be sure if the minuets after over 2 weeks are what happened in that meeting. ? Thank you

    1. I presume you are the minute taker. If so, it is the chair who sings the minutes not the minute taker generally. Your organisation may however have a custom where the minute take signs the minutes as well as the chair. If that is the case, you should only sign them if you agree with the changes.

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