Use of Position Titles in Minutes

How many of y’all are using first and last name only in your meeting minutes? Or gasp! First name only? Stop it!

I know, I know, you have a fun group and making this too formal might stifle things. But here’s the most important thing to consider: Meeting minutes are a legal document. Heaven forbid your organization has a situation arise and your minutes are subpoenaed. Having the title followed by the first and last name in the header (Treasurer Sally Smith) and the title followed by last name in the body (Treasurer Smith) of the minutes will clarify who was serving in what role at the time. It’s not going to look well if the President or Secretary is trying to clarify the minutes after the fact – especially if there’s already a situation at hand that’s brought you to this point.

Secondly, have mercy on those who are looking back in the minutes 10 years from now to get context for something. Sometimes a volunteer has served in many roles over the years. I have in mind one person who served her association solidly for over 25 years, from committee member to President. She is a rock star and we are so fortunate to have this level of dedication from a single person, but even for those who have served in two roles throughout their volunteer career with your organization, wouldn’t it still be good to provide clarity in your minutes of what hat that person was wearing at the moment the minutes were created? Or consider those organizations that have elected succession such as the vice president becomes the president and then the past president (or something similar). Without having the election results handy, who knows what role they were speaking from that year.

This is especially important with very small organizations where one person often wears multiple hats at one time. I recall a volunteer who was both the Treasurer and the Trustee. Two separate roles, two separate Boards/Committees, and boy would that get confusing if that organization’s minutes were ever subpoenaed and it wasn’t clear what role this person was serving during any given meeting! And let’s consider how many other committee meetings this person visited as an advisor wearing their Treasurer hat or their Trustee hat. Yikes!

Here’s my tip: Before your minutes are approved, ask yourself, will someone 10 years from now know what the heck is going on and why this person is saying such and such? Often, adding the title to someone’s name speaks volumes. (Of course, Treasurer Smith is talking about why we can/can’t afford x project in the committee minutes. She’s the organization’s treasurer!)

If you are in doubt, let’s talk about your minutes. Drop me an email! Also, you might find this meeting minute template handy.

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