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Meeting minutes are an account of an official meeting, usually of a board of directors for a company or a governmental entity. However, many volunteer groups also keep minutes of meetings to make a historical account of all records, decisions and bills approved. Minutes are normally taken by one individual and then approved at the next board meeting, once all board members have had the opportunity to review and make any corrections.
Most of the time, meeting minutes are a very technical and factual account of what took place at the meeting. Approval of the minutes is usually done with very little, or no, discussion. However, in some cases, such as if there is a highly contentious issue or an error, there can be a considerable amount of discussion. Usually, the vast majority of members agree on what the minutes should say. They do not become an official part of the record until they are approved by the board.
The format for meeting minutes can vary from organization to organization, but are usually very straight forward. It starts by listing the body meeting, gives the date and time of the meeting, members present, and offer short review of each agenda item and a record of the vote, if any was taken, for each item. It also will note the time of adjournment and usually list the date and time of the next meeting.
Meeting minutes are taken by a person designated as a secretary. Depending on the situation, this may or may not be a board member. If not a board member, the entire job of the secretary will be to take down notes. If it is a board member, the job is somewhat harder because they may be expected to participate in the discussion and votes in addition to taking notes. Generally, for a governmental body or company the secretary will not be a board member. For volunteer organizations, the secretary usually is on the board and consider a board officer.
Minutes may differ than other accounts of a meeting, such as those found in a newspaper, in that minutes are very chronological in nature. Each item in the minutes is reported in the sequence it happened. If a meeting is covered in a newspaper, the reporter will generally start writing about the issue that is deemed most newsworthy. Other issues may or may not be covered, depending on their relative importance. It should be noted that each type of account, the meeting minutes and the newspaper article, is correct for its particular style.