Taking Minutes during the Meeting

Cooperatives March 08, 2011 Print Friendly and PDF

Authors: Phil Kenkel, Oklahoma State University, phil.kenkel@okstate.edu, and Bill Fitzwater,
Oklahoma State University

If ever there was a gap between a job’s glamour and its importance, such is the case for a board secretary. It is of utmost importance to have the right person taking the minutes. Usually cooperative boards appoint a board secretary who records minutes during the meeting, transfers the minutes into a professional, readable format and submits the minutes to the board for approval at the next meeting.

Unfortunately, recording good minutes during the meeting may prevent the board secretary from adequately contributing to the discussion. Some cooperatives have adopted the method of allowing an employed recording secretary to fulfill the duties of recording the working minutes during the meeting and transferring them to readable form. Having a recording secretary take care of this predominantly clerical job will allow the corporate secretary to fulfill his/her entire responsibility, not just a narrow portion of it. This way, the board secretary can focus on the business of the meeting without the distraction of writing minutes during the discussion.

Another advantage to this method of using the services of recording secretary is that consistency and continuity is better achieved. Due to the nature of the board of directors of cooperatives, most maintain a considerable turnover rate. New board secretaries are appointed relatively often and every new secretary uses a different method of recording and formatting board minutes. Because board minutes are often referenced in the future, continuity is an important consideration. By employing a recording secretary, continuity can be maintained through board secretary rotations. The major disadvantage of hiring a clerical recording secretary is maintaining confidentiality. This may be an insurmountable issue in a small rural community.

Another method to improve the quality of the minutes is asking for a second board member or advisory board member to help record the minutes. During the meeting, this individual will record a second set of minutes in addition to the notes the board secretary takes. The board secretary reviews both sets of working minutes, formats the information to a readable format and presents the final draft at the next meeting. This second set of working minutes also provides an unbiased double-check of what occurred at the meeting. Information that one recorder missed will probably be picked up by the other.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.