Though there’s much more in the life of a secretary, the key responsibility for any secretary is writing meeting minutes.  Presenters Shelagh VanderVeen and Mary Ann Rosenberger offered  ways of preparing meeting minutes that are painless and can be done relatively easy.

Sometimes people think that the secretary has to write the Great American Novel.  Not so!

In fact, simple sentences in minutes are far better than any clever writing.  And what is placed in minutes is not a transcript of what is said in the meeting, but statements of what was done in the meeting.  What is done in a meeting includes motions being made and whether they are adopted or not.  It is unwise to include what is said in meetings because minutes can be used in a court of law and many of us do not want our statements open to public scrutiny.

A way of facilitating the preparation of minutes is to plan an orderly way of noting what is done during a meeting.  The best way to do that is with a template that has the major parts of a meeting listed.  At the time of the meeting the secretary simply fills in the blanks so he has the necessary details.  Here’s some major items that you might include in a template along with spaces for filling in the answers:

Kind of meeting?

Place/Date/Time of Beginning of meeting?


Is secretary present?

Officer reports with officers listed in order as they appear in the bylaws

Standing committee reports, again in order as they appear in the bylaws

Special committee reports

Unfinished business

New business


Time meeting is adjourned

Another useful tool for the secretary is a thorough agenda.  Along with the template one can be assured of covering all the business transacted.

In order to get the new business correct — and remember, new business happens by motions — motion forms can be very useful.  They can be purchased at the online store of and in one step create four copies!  Having members write their motions helps clarify the content of the business and is a great aid to any secretary—and presiding officer.

One more hint for all budding secretaries—Do the Minutes as Soon as You Can.  Even the sharpest details can grow fuzzy if you wait to write the minutes just before the next meeting.  Set aside a time as soon as you can to write the minutes and send them to the president so she can follow through on assignments made at the meeting.