How to Keep Good Minutes

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The purpose of keeping minutes is to provide a record of the organization's actions, for the information of absent members and for future reference. Minutes are not generally intended to be a news report, or a record of all that was said in a meeting. For most meetings, it is enough to record the essential facts and the actions of the organization.

All minutes should contain the following information (which need not be in numbered paragraphs, but should generally be in the order given below):

1. the kind of meeting (regular, special, adjourned regular, or adjourned special);

2. the name of the organization;

3. the date and time of the meeting, and the place if it is not always the same;

4. the names of the presiding officer and secretary, or, if these are regular officers, simply the fact that they were present; also presence of quorum;

5. the fact that the minutes of the previous meeting were read and approved–as read or as corrected–and the date of that meeting, if it was other than a regular meeting. Note: Any corrections to those minutes are recorded in the text of those minutes, not in the present meeting's minutes.

6. all main motions or motions to bring a matter again before the assembly, in separate paragraphs, with the name of the mover of each important motion; but not motions that are withdrawn (unless there is some reason to note what happened–as when a motion is postponed to a later meeting and made a special order of the day, but is then withdrawn). Give the exact wording of the motion as disposed of (i.e., adopted, defeated, committed, postponed to a certain time, etc.), incorporating any amendments, and the disposition. If a motion is amended there is usually no need to record both the original form and the amended form, unless the amendment makes a substantial change and causes a lot of debate. If the disposition is temporary (such as postponement to the next meeting), note any adhering amendments or secondary motions then pending;

7. any secondary motions that were not lost or withdrawn, if they made a difference in the proceedings (such as a motion to vote by ballot, a request to be excused from a duty, etc.). These may be mentioned indirectly, thus: "A ballot vote having been ordered, . . . ." or "After a recess, . . . ."

8. all notices of motions to be made at a future meeting;

9. all points of order and the chair's rulings on them, and any appeals, with the reasons given by the chair for its ruling; and

10. the time of adjournment.

Other business, such as elections, installation of new members, opening or closing ceremonies, etc., may be mentioned, but should not be recorded in detail unless it is of such special importance that the body votes to have it entered upon the minutes.

The names of seconders of motions should not be recorded unless the by-laws or a vote of the assembly require it.

When a vote is ordered counted, the votes on each side should be recorded, but not the abstentions, unless it is a roll-call vote. On a roll-call, the presence of members who do not respond should be recorded, so that the record reflects the presence of a quorum.

If the assembly goes into the committee of the whole, or quasi committee of the whole, that fact should be recorded, but the proceedings in committee should not be. The committee's report should be recorded.

The reports of standing and special committees, and of officers, should be mentioned, but not summarized or entered on the minutes, except by vote of the assembly, when a report is of special importance. In that case, the whole report is put into the minutes verbatim. A financial report may be summarized for the record.

The name of a guest speaker may be noted, with the subject of the speech, but no attempt should be made to summarize the remarks.

If the minutes are to be published, which may be desirable for an important meeting, they should list the names of all speakers for and against each principle question, and give a summary of each speech. In such cases the secretary should have an assistant. Better yet, hire a stenographer to take down everything verbatim.

Reading & Approving Minutes

In an assembly which meets at least quarterly, where the session does not last more than a day, and where the membership is substantially the same from one session to the next, the rules for reading and approval of the minutes are as follows:

1. The minutes of the previous meeting are normally read at the beginning of a meeting, immediately after the call to order and any opening ceremonies. An adjourned meeting approves the minutes of the meeting that established it. The minutes of an adjourned meeting are approved by the next adjourned or regular meeting, whichever happens first. A special meeting does not approve minutes. Its minutes are approved at the next regular meeting.

2. Corrections, if any, and approval are usually by unanimous consent.

3. A motion "that the approval of the minutes be dispensed with" is just a motion to postpone the minutes to later in the meeting. It's an undebatable motion, and so is the motion to take the minutes up again later. If the minutes aren't taken up again in the same meeting, they must be read and approved at the next regular meeting. You can't get away with skipping the minutes entirely. But you can circulate a draft to all members in advance (usually with the call of the next meeting), in which case they're not read aloud unless requested. Correction and approval are then handled in the normal way.

If the assembly meets less often than quarterly, and for no more than one day; or when there will be a substantial change in membership from one meeting to the next, the executive board or a committee should be authorized to correct and approve the minutes.

In sessions lasting more than one day, such as conventions, each day's minutes are read at the beginning of the next day, and the last day's are read before final adjournment, unless the assembly has authorized the executive board or a committee to approve the minutes later.

Model Minutes

From the I.W.W. Manual of Instruction for Job Delegates (General Recruiting Union, c. 1943) (slightly edited).

Regular branch meeting called to order by branch secretary Friday March 12, 1943 at 8 P.M. at 2422 N. Halstead St., Chicago, Ill.

Fellow Worker John Star elected chairman. Fellow Workers Joe Roe and John Doe appointed card conductors. Card conductors report twenty members in good standing and one in bad standing. Moved and Seconded that the report of card conductors be accepted and member in bad standing be seated without voice or vote, carried. Fellow Worker Ben Bonnet elected recording secretary.

Reading of minutes

M&S That minutes of last meeting be accepted and filed, carried. M&S That report of organization committee be laid over to new business, carried.

Report of Financial Secretary

M&S That report of financial secretary be accepted subject to auditing committee, carried.

New business

M&S That floor be thrown open for discussion on report of organization committee, carried. M&S That discussion be closed, carried. M&S That report be accepted and the proposed leaflet be printed, carried. M&S That we hold a Mayday affair, carried. M&S that a committee of three be elected to arrange for Mayday affair, carried.

Nominations and elections

Fellow Workers Doe, Kirby, and Star elected to the auditing committee.

Fellow Workers Bonnet, Roe, and Johnson elected to the May day committee.

Good and welfare

Several members spoke under this heading.

Adjournment

M&S That we adjourn, carried. Adjourned at 9 P.M.

John Star X110472 Chairman

Ben Bonnet X313085 Recording Secretary

John Johnson Branch Secretary

{Branch Seal}


Metal Mine Workers' Industrial Union No. 800, Bisbee, Arizona Branch

(Slightly edited)

Bisbee, June 23th, 1917.

Meeting called to order at 2:20 p.m.

F. Worker Maxwell elected chairman

Embree elected Rec. Sec’y.

Report of Smoker Committee read by Fellow Worker Paine

Total Receipts

175.00

Expenses

77.45
Balance

97.55

Report accepted and ordered filed.

Communication read from Seattle Central Executive committee regarding advisability of general strike throughout U.S. as protest against persecution of I.W.W. members on account of alleged anti-conscription activity ordered taken in under New Business.

Communication from Butte strikers ordered filed.

Communication from Grass regards purchase of Square Dealer plant. Ordered layed over to New Business.

Reading of receipts & expenditures. Filed.

Communication from Seattle discussed.

Moved Sec. Communication be layed over until after election of Executive Committee carried.

Election of Executive Committee

Embree Filkers

Sullivan Brooks

Lewis Webb

Paine Maxwell

Blackburn Davis

Motion nominations close. Carried.

Vote shows following elected on Executive Committee

Sullivan 87
Davis 71

Paine

70
Embree 63
Webb 46

The following were elected as alternates:

Maxwell 45
Brooks 36
Lewis 34
Blackburn 32
Filkers 19

Communication from Grass regarding purchase of Square Dealer plant.

Moved & seconded communication be placed on file. Carried.

Moved and seconded that we hold another smoker on July 8th. Carried.

Election of smoker committee.

Moved and seconded Executive committee act on Smoker.

Moved as amendment a committee of three be elected with power to add to their number. Carried.

Moved that committee be appointed by chair. Carried.

Maddox, Paine, Taylor were appointed.

Communication from Seattle taken up. Moved that sec’y be instructed to reply to letter in the affirmative.

Moved as amendment that it be referred to Executive committee, who will report next meeting.

Moved as amendment to amendment that we send word to Seattle that we are ready to act with them.

Amendment to amendment ruled out of order.

Amendment lost. Motion carried.

Moved that profit of smoker be applied to hall improvements. Carried.

Under Good & Welfare several matters were eloquently discussed.

Moved that chairman appoint a conductor for next meeting. Fellow Worker Davis appointed.

Adjournment.

A. S. Embree

Recording Sec’y

Note: It would have been better form to state the name of the organization and the names of the proponents of the various motions, but otherwise these minutes are entirely sufficient. The motion to amend which failed need not have been recorded, except that a motion to amend that amendment was ruled out of order. Rulings of the chair must be recorded, so it was necessary to record the motion to amend as well.


Other Models

From Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised

The regular monthly meeting of the L.M. Society was held on Thursday, January 4, 20__, at 8:30 p.m., at the Society's building, the President being in the chair and the Secretary being present. The minutes of the last meeting were read and approved as corrected.

The treasurer reported the receipt of a bill from the Downs Construction Company in the amount of $5,000 for the improvements recently made in the Society's building. The question put by the chair "that the bill be paid" was adopted.

Mr. Johnson, reporting on behalf of the Membership Committee, moved "that John R. Brown be admitted to membership in the Society." The motion was adopted after debate.

The report of the Program Committee was received and placed on file.

The special committee that was appointed to investigate and report on suitable parking facilities near the Society's building reported, through its chairman, Mrs. Smith, a resolution, which, after debate and amendment, was adopted as follows: "Resolved, That . . . [its exact words immediately before being acted upon, incorporating all amendments]."

The resolution relating to the use of the Society's library by nonmembers, which was postponed from the last meeting, was then taken up. This motion and a pending amendment were laid on the table after the chair announced that the guest speaker had received a phone message which would require his early departure.

The President then introduced the guest speaker, Mr. James F. Mitchell, whose subject was ___________.

At the conclusion of Mr. Mitchell's talk, the resolution relating to the use of the Society's library by nonmembers was taken from the table. After amendment and further debate, the resolution was adopted as follows: "Resolved, That . . . [its exact wording immediately before being finally voted on]."

Mr. Gordon moved "that the Society undertake the establishment of a summer camp for boys on its lakefront property." Mrs. Thomas moved to amend this motion by inserting the word "underprivileged" before "boys". On motion of Mr. Dorsey, the motion to establish the camp, with the pending amendment, was referred to a committee of three to be appointed by the chair with instructions to report at the next meeting. The chair appointed Messrs. Flynn, Dorsey, and Fine to the committee.

The meeting adjourned at 10:05 p.m.

Margaret Duffy, Secretary


From Demeter's Manual

Model 1. At a regular meeting of C Club, held in B Hall, on Tuesday, October (date and year), at 8:10 p.m., a quorum being present, the minutes of the last meeting were read and approved. The treasurer reported $500 in D Bank as of this meeting, with all bills paid to date. The following committee reports were submitted: Executive, Program, Music, House, Annual Ball, and Legislative. Under unfinished business, the motion to buy a new clubhouse postponed from the last meeting was considered and, after considerable debate, was defeated. Under new business, on motion of E duly seconded, it was voted to organize a bowling team. On motion of F duly seconded, it was voted to appoint a committee to revise the bylaws, and the Chair appointed G, H, I, J, and K to the committee. The meeting adjourned at 10:05 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

(signed) A. Brown, Secretary

Model 2. A special meeting of N Club was held in O Hall, on Thursday, April (date and year), at 8:05 p.m., and was called to order by Vice President P in the absence of President Q, a quorum being present. The secretary read the call of the special meeting as follows: "A special meeting of the N Club will be held in O Hall on Tuesday, April [date], at 8:00 p.m. The object of the meeting will be to consider the advisability of buying a new clubhouse."

On motion of U, duly seconded, it was voted to limit debate on the question to three minutes a member, and no one to speak a second time except by unanimous consent. The following members spoke in favor of buying a new clubhouse: V, W, X, Y, and Z; and the following members spoke against: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and I. On motion of J, it was voted to order the previous question. The motion to buy a new clubhouse was then put to a vote and on a rising vote the result was 87 in favor and 91 against. Member K, who voted with the prevailing side [the negative here] then moved reconsideration of the vote. Reconsideration was then duly seconded, put to vote, and was defeated. Then L rose and moved to have the vote again reconsidered. The Chair ruled that the same question cannot be reconsidered more than once.

On motion of N, duly seconded, the meeting adjourned at 10:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

(signed) A. Brown, Secretary

Note that in Demeter's Model 2 the minutes of the previous meeting were not read and approved because this was a special meeting.

The listing of members speaking for and against the motion in Model 2 is unnecessary, unless the minutes are to be published, or the meeting is a convention of delegates, whose constituents are entitled to know the positions they took.