The phrase “in a New York minute” is supposed to mean in an instant. Or, as Johnny Carson once said, it’s that split-second interval between a Manhattan traffic light turning green and the guy behind you honking his horn.
On the other hand, if I holler “I’ll just be a minute” while scrambling around in my closet for the right outfit, I don’t know about you, but the unsuspecting person waiting on me likely will be waiting another 15 minutes.
As we all know, the actual definition of a “minute” is 60 seconds. Yet interestingly enough, the word has morphed into at least two forms of slang that have opposite connotations and reflect something other than its true meaning. One can say the same thing about the philosophy of keeping meeting minutes. On the one hand, some boards feel that minutes should capture every single statement made or detail observed, with the result bordering on a verbatim transcription of the meeting. This is ineffective, unnecessary and a big waste of time.
Other boards may capture only the names of the attendees and whether an action item on the agenda was approved or not. Without including, for example, the language of the motion itself, or detail on the specific action that was approved, the board may be setting itself up for confusion when it comes time to carry out the decisions, or to prove that particular action was approved.
Effective minutes should be somewhere in between the above examples. Minutes are records of the official action taken at a meeting and, if written well, can be helpful for many reasons, including the following:
Are minutes required?
Section 38-33.3-317(1) of the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act provides that the Association must maintain certain records for purposes of document retention and production to owners, including “minutes of all meetings of its unit owners and executive board”.
This requirement is mirrored in Section 7-136-101 of the Colorado Revised Nonprofit Corporation Act, which provides that a nonprofit corporation shall keep as permanent records, “minutes of all meetings of its members and boards of directors”.
In addition, your bylaws and/or conduct of meeting policy might prescribe specific requirements for minute-taking, so be sure to review your governing documents for potential requirements.
What are some general principles for drafting effective minutes?
I’m sure you’ve heard us say minutes are minutes, not hours. You shouldn’t have pages and pages of he-said, she-said discussions. Rather, stick to the basics. The minutes should capture the actions of the meeting and certain details. Here are some practice pointers in drafting minutes:
When are minutes approved?
Minutes should be approved at the next board or membership meeting. Only after minutes have been approved should the secretary sign them, with a statement that the minutes constitute the official record and minutes of the meeting. If asked for a copy of the minutes before they are officially approved, make sure to stamp “Draft” on the minutes, and explain that they will be officially approved at the next meeting.
Minutes, if drafted appropriately, can make all the difference in the successful operation of an association.