Less Is More: Action Minutes Save Time, Serve the Agency Best

By Ann Macfarlane / October 27, 2023 / Comments Off on Less Is More: Action Minutes Save Time, Serve the Agency Best
Close-up view of an analog clock showing the time as 11:55 with a white face, black numbers, and red second hand, reminding you to take action and save time in these final minutes.

This article describes the benefits of action minutes. It was first published on the MRSC blog. MRSC is a private nonprofit organization, formerly known as “Municipal Resources and Service Center,” serving local governments in Washington State. The insights described here apply to local governments across the nation. If your council, commission, or committee takes detailed…

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Can the chair take the minutes?

By Ann Macfarlane / May 8, 2023 / Comments Off on Can the chair take the minutes?
Cartoon of a business meeting with five men and a dinosaur around a table. A chart on the wall shows declining profits. One man raises his hand, asking questions about Robert's Rules. Caption reads, "If anyone can get us out of our rut, it’s Ole Dinosaur here.

Dear Dinosaur:  In our organization, one person makes the agenda for the meeting, chairs the meeting, takes the notes, and creates the minutes. Besides being a lot of work for one person, it seems like more people should be involved to avoid the appearance of a concentration of power within the commission. Are there specific…

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Examples of action, summary, and detailed minutes in Robert’s Rules

By Ann Macfarlane / June 21, 2022 / Comments Off on Examples of action, summary, and detailed minutes in Robert’s Rules
Three rounded rectangular buttons labeled "Example" in red, yellow, and blue, each with a double arrow icon pointing right, serve as vivid prompts for quick examples of minutes.

Our faithful readers know that Jurassic Parliament advocates for action or summary minutes, not detailed minutes. This article, Meeting minutes record what is DONE, not what is SAID, explains our reasoning. We thought it might be helpful to provide a real-life example of each kind of minutes, so here they are. Robert’s Rules of Order…

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Meeting minutes record what is DONE, not what is SAID

By Ann Macfarlane / September 23, 2020 / Comments Off on Meeting minutes record what is DONE, not what is SAID
A binder labeled "Minutes," an open notebook with cursive writing, a pen, and a calculator are arranged on the desk, ready to record what is done during the meeting.

The biggest problem we encounter in meeting minutes is too much verbiage. Striving to do justice to their job, secretaries sometimes include the arguments that are made, what people say in response, and all the minutiae of discussion. There is a better way! According to Robert’s Rules of Order, minutes should record what is DONE,…

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When should the clerk speak up?

By Ann Macfarlane / September 10, 2020 /
Two women in professional attire stand facing each other; one, with a microphone, raises her right hand as the other, behind a wooden podium, administers an oath. Notably, this moment underscores when should clerk speak up during such formal proceedings.

The clerk of a local government meeting or the secretary on a nonprofit board has a high calling. Under Robert’s Rules, two persons must be present for a valid meeting: the chair and the secretary. They cannot be the same person, and state law often specifies this as well. The clerk or secretary keeps the…

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Use Minutes Approval Committee instead of waiting months

By Ann Macfarlane / January 28, 2020 / Comments Off on Use Minutes Approval Committee instead of waiting months
A close-up of a calendar with pages being flipped, showing various dates in black and red numerals. The calendar has space for personal events at the bottom, making it perfect for tracking meetings and minutes approval committee schedules.

  Have you ever attended an annual meeting of an organization and been asked to vote to approve the minutes from the previous year’s annual meeting? How well did you remember that previous meeting? I am guessing that your memory was a bit fuzzy, unless something dramatic happened. There is a better way. Use Minutes…

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Sample minutes from Robert’s Rules of Order

By Ann Macfarlane / January 21, 2020 /
Cover of "Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised, 12th Edition" by Henry M. Robert III and others, featuring a beige background with a dark green emblem and text.

Here are the sample minutes provided in Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 12th edition, in section 48:8.   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…

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Don’t put these 6 items in the minutes!

By Ann Macfarlane / August 21, 2019 / Comments Off on Don’t put these 6 items in the minutes!
A red, octagonal stop sign with white lettering reads "STOP," a reminder that not in the minutes should you rush past it.

There are half a dozen things that DO NOT BELONG in your minutes. Here they are. 1.  Things that didn’t happen don’t belong in the minutes This may sound unlikely, but we have seen instances where after the meeting, the chair or a board member wants to put something in the minutes that didn’t actually…

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Guidelines for Meeting Minutes in Local Government

By Ann Macfarlane / May 2, 2018 / Comments Off on Guidelines for Meeting Minutes in Local Government
A document titled "Meeting Minutes" lies on a table with a pair of glasses and a fountain pen placed on top, hinting at important local government discussions.

Meeting minutes recording the actions taken by your council or board are a fundamental part of the meeting process. These are our guidelines for meeting minutes in local government. They refer to ordinary business and work or study meetings of councils, boards and committees. Public hearings are governed by different rules. Download PDF WHAT KIND…

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Don’t try to count a voice vote

By Ann Macfarlane / April 3, 2018 / Comments Off on Don’t try to count a voice vote
Close-up of a hand holding a red pencil, marking tally marks on lined paper, recording votes in meeting minutes.

Sometimes after a voice vote that is not unanimous, we see an odd scenario. The chair or the clerk starts trying to figure out who voted for and who voted against. “Let’s see, it looks like the motion passed, with Member B and Member C voting against—you did vote against, didn’t you?” Don’t do this! Trying…

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