Month: March 2022

Storing and Distributing the Minutes

The minutes are written – now what?

Proper handling of meeting records is key. Important considerations include reviewing for accuracy, making corrections, distribution, filing and storage.

In our years of running a professional minute-taking company working with more than 500 condominium boards across Ontario, we’ve noticed that the management of meeting minutes differs from board to board. Of course, taking minutes is not only good practice, it is mandatory as part of keeping an official minute book under the Condominium Act. But precisely what happens after the minutes are taken and how they are distributed are points of contention.

A central consideration when deciding who should take your meeting minutes is delivery time: often a designated board member, a property manager or a hired third party is enlisted. One benefit of hiring a professional minute taker is that the delivery time of the completed minutes should be clearly disclosed prior to engaging. A deadline should also be set if it is the board secretary who takes the minutes; it can depend on the protocol of the board, but receiving the completed document within one week of the meeting is a good guideline.

Prompt receipt of the minutes allows ample time for them to be reviewed before the next meeting, which improves the efficiency of meetings: instead of analyzing the previous minutes at length for the first part of each meeting, most of the legwork can and should be done via email, weeks in advance. It also reduces potential unnecessary discussion and debate during the meeting, which can be time-consuming and expensive.

Distribution, Part 1

Minutes should be submitted to the building manager and the board president, who should take a day or two to review them separately and then compare reviews with one another via email. Next, they should formulate one email to the rest of the board with their suggested amendments in the body of the email and attach a first draft of the minutes. The other directors should be asked to submit their opinions and their own proposed changes by a deadline – three to five days, for example.

Once the board has had the chance to respond, the manager should send the amendments on which there is consensus to the recording secretary or the minute-taking company to be entered into the working copy of the minutes. This sets the stage for efficient board meetings with the goal of getting the previous set of minutes approved and signed promptly. Disputed changes should not be made to the minutes; rather, the board should be notified in advance that those proposed amendments will be discussed at the next meeting.

Once the board agrees on all the amendments to be made to the previous minutes, they can be approved with a formal motion during the next meeting and signed.

Distribution, Part 2

Once minutes are approved, how they should be distributed and stored?

Minutes only need to be distributed to individual owners upon request, in which case it is important to ensure that only the open minutes are released — not the in-camera minutes. In-camera minutes pertain to actual or contemplated litigation, insurance investigations involving the corporation, and items related to corporation employees (not including contracts) and specific unit owners. These items do not need to be disclosed in the regular minutes and the board has the discretion to keep these subjects confidential.

How to Store Minutes

The best solution for filing and storing minutes is a cloud-based system that is available to both board members and managers, making the documents available to all relevant parties.

Condominium records (including minutes) are often misplaced or difficult to obtain because the turnover of board members, management companies and managers is quite common. At Minutes Solutions, we frequently get calls from boards saying, “Can you please send us the minutes for the last two years? We recently got a new manager and the old manager is not reachable.” Or simply, “Can you send these minutes — we can’t seem to find them.”

Keeping minutes and meeting documents on a centralized system allows 24/7 access to board members and managers and solves the issue of misplacing, losing, or not being able to access minutes. Some professional minute-taking companies offer a storage service that does exactly this. With a cloud-based system managed by a professional minute-taking company, boards can limit and regulate access in case anything were to happen with the manager or a rogue board member.

Although every board may have a unique way of distributing and managing their meeting records, following these steps will establish a straightforward protocol to ensure that they are abiding by legislation and providing prompt access to minutes and records.

Verbatim Transcription or Meeting Minutes: Which is Right for Your Board Meetings?

In the world of board meetings, proper documentation is crucial for good governance, accountability, decision-making, and legal compliance. Two common methods for documenting a board meeting are verbatim transcription and transcribing minutes. Transcription means converting spoken language or audio recordings into written text. Each approach serves a unique purpose, offering distinct advantages and disadvantages. Let us discuss the two options.

Board Meeting Transcription: The Verbatim Record

When precision matters

What is Board Meeting Transcription?

Board meeting transcription involves the meticulous process of converting spoken words from a board meeting into a written, word-for-word transcript. This approach aims to capture every spoken word, ensuring a comprehensive record of everything discussed in the meeting. It cannot be partial, opinionated, or subjective, making it an indispensable tool in situations or industries where omitting certain conversations is not an option.

Why Transcribe a Board Meeting Verbatim?

  1. Precision and Accuracy: One of the primary reasons organizations opt for board meeting transcription is the need for precision and accuracy. In fields where details matter greatly, having a verbatim record of discussions, decisions, and statements is invaluable, as it leaves no room for misinterpretation.
  1. Legal and Compliance Requirements: Many industries operate under strict legal and regulatory frameworks. Transcribing board meetings can help organizations meet compliance requirements and provide a clear record of exactly what was said in case of disputes or audits.
  1. In-depth Analysis: Researchers and analysts often rely on verbatim transcripts for in-depth analysis, as it allows them to delve into the nuances of conversations, study language patterns, and identify underlying themes.

The Cons of Board Meeting Transcription

  1. Time-Consuming: Transcribing every word is very time-consuming, especially for lengthy meetings.
  1. Costly: High-precision transcription requires skilled professionals and can come at a significant cost, especially compared to transcribing minutes.
  1. Liability: Verbatim transcription is not typically recommended for board meetings, as this can open the board to liability in several ways, including:
    • Inadvertently disclosing confidential information, such as trade secrets, confidential business strategies, or private information about individuals.
    • Exposing the board to legal risks, especially if statements imply negligence, discrimination, or other lawful content.
    • Inaccurate transcription may lead to misunderstandings or misinterpretations of what was discussed.
  1. Verbose: Verbatim transcripts often contain filler words and repetitions, which can reduce conciseness, clarity, and readability. Furthermore, they may not accurately capture the meaning the speaker intended to convey.

At Minutes Solutions, we offer “intelligent verbatim” transcription which preserves the speaker’s sentence structure, phrasing, point of view, and message but cleans up the presentation, corrects grammatical errors and misspoken words, and eliminates repetition and filler words such as “ah”, “um”, “you know”, and “like”.

Transcribing Minutes

When clarity and efficiency are key

What Are Meeting Minutes?

Meeting minutes, also known as minutes of meetings or simply minutes, offer a summarized account of key points, discussions, decisions, and action items from a meeting. Unlike verbatim transcription, minutes aim to provide a concise yet informative record, ensuring that both attendees and non-attendees can stay informed. They provide valuable context for meeting proceedings, explain the reasoning behind decisions, and serve as a convenient reference for those unable to participate in the meeting. Minutes play a crucial role in an organization’s strategic development, helping them chart their course and track their progress. They prove useful for corporations, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, school boards, and any organization looking to document a board meeting effectively.

Why Meeting Minutes?

  1. Clarity and Efficiency: Transcribing minutes of meetings is a time-efficient way to capture the most salient points of a discussion. It distills lengthy conversations into easily digestible information, making it suitable for most meetings.
  1. Action-oriented: Minutes often include action items, responsibilities, and deadlines. This actionable content makes it easier for participants to follow up on decisions made during the board meeting.
  1. Accessibility: Meeting minutes are user-friendly and readily accessible to a wide audience. Done well, they do not require specialized training for comprehension, making them valuable for sharing across different departments and teams, without the need to sift through extensive pages of information.
  1. Compliance: Proper board meeting minutes help organizations meet governance, compliance, and regulatory requirements by documenting all the necessary components of the meeting in the correct manner.
  1. Protection: A good minute-taker knows what to include and, equally important, what not to include in board meeting minutes, protecting the organization from the potential pitfalls of including every spoken word.

The Cons of Transcribing Minutes

  1. Less detail: The minutes will not capture every word spoken, which could be a disadvantage in certain contexts.
  1. Risk of bias: The minute taker’s interpretation may introduce bias or omit critical information when a meeting is documented in a summarized form. This concern can be addressed through the use of a professional third-party minute-taker.
  1. Less appropriate for highly technical discussions: In technical fields, verbatim transcripts, or at least certain sections captured word-for-word, might be necessary for precision.

Considering Digital vs. Human Transcription

When transcribing board meetings, organizations often weigh the options of digital (automated) and human transcription. Here’s why people consider both and why human transcription remains the cornerstone for accuracy and reliability:

Digital Transcription

Also, automated transcription services are typically more budget-friendly, making them an attractive choice for organizations with budget constraints. However, AI-generated transcripts often contain many errors, which can put an organization at risk of incorrectly conveying decisions, action items, discussions, and other crucial aspects of board meetings. This can also lead to a lengthy review process, negating the savings in time and money that digital transcription was intended to provide. Despite advancements in AI, automation cannot fully replace personnel trained in verbatim transcription, and certainly cannot replicate the work of a professional minute-taker.

Digital transcription utilizes technology, notably artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning algorithms, and speech recognition tools, to automatically convert audio and video recordings into text, eliminating the need for manual transcription. It offers swift transcription of board meeting minutes, which is essential when dealing with substantial volumes of audio or video content under tight deadlines.

Human Transcription:

Human transcription involves an individual converting spoken language into written text. It requires meticulous listening to audio or video recordings to transcribe the spoken words, capturing both content and context. Human transcribers can understand accents and industry-specific words, and provide additional services, such as formatting, editing, and accurate time stamping, to enhance the minutes’ usability and readability. Moreover, manual transcription services prioritize data security, often backed by non-disclosure agreements and ISO standards, ensuring utmost confidentiality for sensitive meeting content.

In board meeting scenarios, where precision and accuracy are paramount for legal compliance, decision-making, and historical reference, human transcription remains the gold standard. While automated transcription can be a valuable tool for rapid content processing, it often falls short in capturing the nuanced details and subtleties that can significantly influence the interpretation and utility of board meeting minutes.

Choosing the Right Method for Your Needs

Both word-for-word transcripts and meeting minutes have a place when it comes to how organizations keep accurate records of events and information. When deciding between board meeting transcription and transcribing minutes of meetings, consider your industry, the purpose of the documentation, and the level of detail required. Think about whether verbatim transcripts or meeting minutes will better serve your specific meeting participants and other stakeholders.

In some cases, a combination of both approaches may be appropriate, with verbatim transcription reserved for critical legal or technical contexts and minutes serving as a practical, everyday solution for most meetings. Understanding the pros and cons of each approach empowers you to make an informed decision that best serves your organization’s objectives.

How Minutes Solutions Can Help

Minutes Solutions is the global leader in professional minute-taking, offering expert minute-takers skilled in board meeting transcription and transcribing minutes from both live and recorded sessions. Our services are tailored to meet your organization’s unique needs, regardless of your industry. Our unwavering commitment to quality and precision guarantees impeccable records for your organization, whether you prefer intelligent verbatim transcripts or concise meeting minutes. Contact us today to discover how we can enhance your meeting documentation processes, providing you with the flexibility to choose the method that aligns perfectly with your organization’s objectives.

8 Steps to Great Minute Taking – How to Take Minutes

Meetings play a pivotal role in decision-making, idea generation, and team alignment. A vital component at the center of these interactions is meeting minutes. These seemingly straightforward documents form the foundation of organizational memory, capturing the core of conversations, consensus, and action items. Meeting minutes are a cornerstone for every organization, whether corporate entities or community associations, crucial for reaching resolutions and tracking progress.

As boards often find themselves delving into the intricacies of past deliberations or judgments, the necessity of reviewing meeting minutes becomes apparent. However, this task can become cumbersome, particularly if the minutes are improperly transcribed or challenging to recall. Learning how to take minutes effectively, therefore, proves important for any organization.

Minute-taking can be a daunting task, but it is also crucial. Keeping a fair and unbiased record of decisions can go a long way toward

Understanding the Purpose and Significance of Minutes

To comprehend how to take minutes effectively, it’s crucial to recognize their multifaceted role. Meeting minutes serve as more than just records; they encapsulate the essence of meetings, providing a tangible reference for understanding discussions, decisions, and follow-up actions.

While the task of minute-taking may seem daunting, it is undeniably crucial. Crafting meaningful minutes isn’t solely about transcribing dialogue; it’s an art that demands precision, clarity, and a profound understanding of the meeting. Maintaining a fair and unbiased record of decisions significantly contributes to reinforcing a proactive relationship between the board, management, and all participants.

The Art and Science of Minute-Taking

Minute-taking is a nuanced blend of both art and science, amalgamating structured methodologies with subjective interpretation and effective communication. Scientifically, it involves systematic recording, standardized formats, accuracy, and adherence to compliance standards. It demands technical proficiency and objective representation, ensuring the accuracy and legality of the recorded information.

However, the art of minute-taking lies in selective interpretation, clarity in communication, and contextual understanding. It involves distilling discussions into clear, concise records, capturing not just words but also the essence and implications behind them. The minute-taker must adapt their style based on the meeting’s nature, balancing structured methodologies with adaptability.

8 Steps to Great Minute-Taking

A question that often arises is: How can I ensure I’m taking good meeting minutes? Here are eight tips for crafting a quality set of minutes:

  1. Listen actively: Active listening plays a crucial role in the process of how to take minutes effectively during meetings. It involves more than just hearing words; it’s about understanding the underlying messages, key points, and decisions being communicated. This skill enables the minute-taker to capture not only the facts but also the context, when appropriate. When one masters how to take minutes through active listening, they can accurately record the essence of the meeting, ensuring that the minutes are a reliable and useful resource for all stakeholders. Active listening aids in distinguishing between critical decisions and general discussions, making the minutes concise and focused.
  2. Know what to include: When taking minutes, discretion is necessary. Not every spoken word finds its place in the minutes. Table talk that does not contribute to relevant topics should be omitted. Focus on substantive content; avoid including non-contributory information that does not align with the meeting’s objectives.
  3. Be clear: Minutes should provide a clear snapshot of who participated and the backdrop in which discussions unfolded. If a future board member recalls past minutes, they should be able to clearly identify who was present and understand the context of what took place. List out meeting attendees by name, title, and affiliation or purpose, including guests and representatives.
  4. Be consistent: A good set of minutes maintains consistency throughout, fostering readability and professionalism. From formatting to language use, maintaining a standardized approach across all minutes enhances their accessibility and comprehension.
  5. Use impartial language: Objective language is pivotal in minute-taking. Using impartial language, free from personal biases or affiliations, ensures neutrality and accuracy in recording decisions and discussions. Refrain from writing in the first or second person.
  6. Understand when to use in-camera minutes: Confidential matters require discretion. Items pertaining to employees of the organization, investigations, lawsuits, or specific members or residents typically need to be kept separate in an in-camera section, ensuring restricted access as necessary.
  7. Edit carefully: Key to understanding how to take minutes is understanding how to edit minutes. The integrity of minutes hinges on their accuracy and clarity. Implement stringent editing procedures to refine and enhance the quality of your minutes. Ensure your minutes are properly edited for content, grammar, and syntax.
  8. Structure your notes: Knowing how to take minutes effectively includes systematically organizing your notes. Utilize bullet points or structured outlines to ensure a logical flow, making it easier to comprehend and reference later.

Mistakes to Avoid When Taking Minutes

While mastering the art and science of minute-taking is crucial, steering clear of common pitfalls is equally essential for crafting effective and error-free meeting minutes. Here are some mistakes to be wary of:

  1. Lack of Preparation: Failing to prepare adequately before a meeting can lead to incomplete or inaccurate minutes. Review the agenda and other meeting materials, understand the meeting’s objectives, and familiarize yourself with the topics to ensure you capture the substance of the discussions accurately.
  2. Ignoring Context: A common mistake is overlooking the context of discussions. Ensure that your minutes provide enough context for future readers to understand the rationale behind decisions and action items. Context is key to the comprehensibility of the documented information.
  3. Lack of Clarity in Action Items: Clearly articulating action items is vital for accountability and follow-up. Ambiguous or unclear descriptions of tasks can lead to confusion and hinder the effective execution of decisions made during the meeting.
  4. Inadequate Archiving: Failing to properly archive minutes is a significant oversight. Ensure that you have a secure and easily accessible storage space for your meeting minutes. This step is crucial not only for maintaining legal compliance but also for future reference, audits, or unexpected circumstances where historical meeting records become essential.

By steering clear of these common mistakes, you not only enhance the quality of your meeting minutes but also contribute to the overall effectiveness and professionalism of your organization’s documentation processes.

How Professional Minute-Taking Can Help

While the aforementioned tips can assist in creating a good document, it is equally important to recognize the value of professional third-party minute-taking services. While internal minute-taking efforts may be effective, there are distinct advantages to outsourcing this crucial task to specialized providers.

One compelling reason to consider professional third-party minute-taking services is the assurance of impartiality and objectivity. External minute takers bring a level of independence that can be challenging to achieve internally. Their primary focus is on accurately capturing the proceedings without being influenced by internal dynamics or biases, ensuring a more neutral and objective record of the meeting.

Moreover, professional minute-taking companies often employ seasoned experts who are well-versed in the intricacies of minute-taking. The minute takers at Minutes Solutions, for instance, undergo in industry best practices, ensuring a high level of accuracy, consistency, and adherence to legal and compliance standards. By entrusting minute-taking to skilled specialists, organizations can benefit from a comprehensive and reliable record of their meetings.

Another advantage of opting for professional third-party services is the potential for increased efficiency and time savings. Dedicated minute-taking companies have streamlined processes and resources in place to handle minute-taking efficiently. This allows internal teams to focus on their core responsibilities, enhancing overall productivity and freeing up valuable time for more strategic tasks.

Furthermore, the use of third-party minute-taking services adds an extra layer of accountability to the process. At Minutes Solutions, we have established protocols for and editing, ensuring that the final minutes undergo thorough scrutiny before being presented to the board for approval. This systematic approach minimizes the risk of errors or oversights, providing a higher level of confidence in the accuracy and completeness of the minutes.


Meetings constitute a pivotal aspect of organizational dynamics, playing a central role in decision-making, and the crucial component that sustains the essence of these interactions is meeting minutes. As seemingly straightforward documents, they serve as the foundation of organizational memory, capturing the core of conversations, consensus, and action items.

Whether in corporate or community settings, they serve as a cornerstone for resolutions and progress tracking. However, the process of navigating through these minutes can be cumbersome, especially when improperly transcribed or challenging to recall. Hence, understanding the art and science of minute-taking becomes indispensable for any organization. In addition to following the eight steps for effective minute-taking, it’s equally essential to be mindful of common mistakes that can compromise the quality of meeting minutes.

By recognizing the multifaceted role of meeting minutes and avoiding pitfalls such as lack of preparation, ignoring context, unclear action items, and inadequate archiving, organizations can enhance the professionalism and effectiveness of their documentation processes.

Considering the value of impartiality, expertise, efficiency, and accountability, organizations may find significant benefits in opting for professional third-party minute-taking services. Providers like Minutes Solutions Inc. bring a wealth of experience, rigorous training, and a commitment to industry best practices. Outsourcing minute-taking ensures an unbiased and accurate record of meetings, allowing internal teams to focus on strategic tasks while benefiting from the expertise of dedicated specialists. Board members and management can confidently review the final product, knowing it reflects a professional and unbiased perspective on the proceedings.

In the fast-paced and demanding landscape of modern organizations, the decision to leverage professional minute-taking services can be a strategic investment in the efficiency and effectiveness of organizational processes.

Minutes Solutions Inc.

Minutes Solutions is your dedicated and trusted ally, committed to enhancing the efficiency and accountability of organizations. As a professional third-party minute-taking company, Minutes Solutions provides prompt, accurate, and objective minutes for boards across various fields. Since its establishment in 2014, the company has provided minute-taking services for over 45,000 meetings, benefiting more than 3,000 organizations across North America. Its cohort of over 150 professionally trained minute-takers in Canada and the U.S. undergoes rigorous training in industry best practices. This unwavering commitment ensures that boards can streamline their administrative processes, allowing them to focus on what they do best.

Why a Manager Should Not Take Minutes

The job of a property manager is a challenging one. They are responsible for coordinating the maintenance of the building, supervising outside contractors for any major projects, keeping in close communication with the board of directors, and managing the daily issues that arise. With many irons in the fire, monthly board meetings can be an extensive amount of work to prepare for. It would seem natural for the manager to also keep the minutes of the board meeting, since they are the ones who are most aware of all of the activity that is happening in the condo. However, there are many reasons that the manager is not the best person for the job.

5 Reasons Why a Manager

Should Not Take the Minutes


1. Impartiality

When aspects of the property manager’s job are being questioned or challenged by board members, it can be difficult to keep impartial and professional minutes. However, it is essential for information to be given that is without bias or emotion. It would be nice if every board of directors got along harmoniously and worked together, but this is not always the case. Residents need to know that they are getting the impartial truth and will not have to question what they are reading.

2. Professionalism

It is easy to get caught up in the “he said, she said” of board meetings. However, minutes from board meetings are not a transcript of every word that was said. In properly formatted minutes, things like decisions, approvals and motions need to be included. Of course, there are things that need to be left on the cutting room floor: he said, she said, table fodder, as well as personal opinions or preferences.

It is also important that minutes are recorded in a proper format that makes the document easily readable, understandable, and consistent from month to month. Points are laid out clearly and succinctly. If they are not, the reader could misinterpret the meaning of the document. Property managers have tremendously demanding jobs. If they are responsible for taking the minutes, editing and formatting may take a back seat to other priorities that require more immediate attention. This, as well as other factors, can cause a delay in their completion and accuracy, if the responsibility to take the minutes falls on them.

3. Active Versus Passive Participation

Robert’s Rules of Order is a parliamentary model for conducting board meetings which provides procedures and rules that permit a deliberative assembly to come up with efficient decisions.[1] It is used by many types of organizations, including the United Nations. Robert’s rules suggest that minute takers are not to be active participants in the conversation.

4. Minutes That Will Stand up in Court

Minutes are an official and legal record of a meeting. Having properly documented minutes is required under the Condominium Act. Unfortunately, there are times when minutes are required in the event of a lawsuit. No one wants their corporation to be liable because of minutes that were not taken properly. Clear and concise minutes will only help a corporation in the case of a potential lawsuit.

5. CMRAO Code of Ethics

The CMRAO stands for The Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario and is a self-funded non-profit corporation that is accountable to the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS).[2] This corporation helps managers and management companies by providing protection in the increasingly popular condo market in Ontario. The Code of Ethics gives the rules that condo managers and management companies need to follow.  One of the requirements covered by the Code attempts to prevent fraud, error or conflict of interest.  Having a manager or board member take the minutes can be a conflict of interest.

Possible Solutions

So That Your Minutes Are Done Properly


1. Using a Board Member to Take Minutes

It is important for the property manager to be fully engaged in a meeting. One way to do this is to use the board secretary or another board member to record the minutes. Although it is not ideal, it is a better option than having it fall to the busy property manager.

2. Hiring a Third-Party Minute Taker Is Well Worth the Investment

The best possible solution is to find a trusted third-party minute taking company to record the minutes for your meetings. This will ensure unbiased and honest records about the decisions the board is making. Just as you would use a real estate agent to sell your home, trust only a professional with the important details about your condominium. Using a professional will give residents confidence and trust in their condominium board and manager. Happy residents ultimately make the job of a property manager much easier.



Why Minutes are Important for HOAs & Condos

Taking minutes for an HOA or condo meeting can be arduous, intimidating, and a misunderstood procedure. But make no mistake, meeting minutes are crucial and – if taken incorrectly – could cost the community financially.

Condo board meeting minutes are not supposed to be a verbatim recording of what happened at the meeting, but rather they are an official record of the decisions taken by the board of directors. It is where the motions, votes on motions, action items, and notations of items tabled for a future meeting are memorialized. These minutes play a pivotal role in maintaining transparency and accountability within the community.

They are a living written history of the association and provide a linear record of the decisions made over the tenure of many boards of directors. Minutes should be kept for many years and, depending on where you live, there are often time horizons given for how long they are to be kept. They provide continuity and if there is a lawsuit, condo board meeting minutes are considered a significant evidentiary document.

This is why it is critical that minute taking is done properly. Boards often consult the meeting minutes to resolve conflicts and incorrectly taken minutes may instead escalate a dispute. The accuracy and clarity of these minutes can significantly impact the efficiency and effectiveness of board decision-making.

Some associations adapt an established set of rules of order such as Robert’s to their own needs to run their meeting. Rules of order give specific direction on how a meeting is conducted and how the meeting minutes should be recorded.

Unless the organization’s governing documents are specific as to who is responsible for composing the condo board meeting minutes, almost anybody can do this task – but this does not mean anybody should. The importance of accuracy in these minutes cannot be overstated, as they serve as a legal record of the board’s actions.

Minute taking is sometimes done by the property manager or directors on the board – often the secretary. Look at your governing documents to see who is responsible for the minutes and in most cases, it will be the secretary. But while the board’s secretary is the keeper of the association’s important documents including the minutes, it does not mean they have to – or should – actually write them. Having a board member take minutes sidelines a key decision maker who may be too distracted by the task of writing about the meeting to actually contribute to it.

Another option is to engage a third party to take the minutes. These services provide clients with a professional who is well-versed in what must be in condo board meeting minutes and what should not be. A professional minute taker is experienced at documenting the board’s decisions in objective language, which may protect directors from liability in the event of a legal dispute. Minutes by an outside recording secretary have more credibility because the individual who took them wasn’t also involved in making the decisions for the association.

A professional minute taker is also unbiased from the point of view that they are not involved in ownership of any units in the building or home and have no vested interest in the financial outcome or decisions. Thus, allowing them to create minutes on exactly what happened at the meeting and not have the urge to skew the minutes in their favor for a potential financial gain.

Conversely, emotional arguments of who said what are not necessary or advisable in condo board meeting minutes and can even end up making individual board members personally vulnerable in a lawsuit.

Once the meeting minutes are voted upon in a subsequent meeting and approved, they become the official record of the association. This means that they are subject to inspection by the members of the association. Paper copies of board minutes are nice, but lots of documents get lost, and it is always a good idea to digitize them and put them in a folder such as Google Drive that resides in cyberspace. If your association or management company has a fire or flood, and the minutes are lost, that can cause a big problem for the governance of the association.

If you digitize and put them in cyberspace, you can keep the minutes for as long or as little as needed and there is extraordinarily little cost to keep them. There may be great cost of not having them done right and not keeping them for a minimum of at least seven years. To paraphrase an old credit card commercial…Don’t leave a meeting without them.

Minutes Solutions

Minutes Solutions is a professional, third-party minute-taking company that specializes in prompt, accurate, and objective minutes for community associations. Since 2014, the company has provided minute taking services for over 45,000 meetings for more than 3,000 communities and organizations across North America, including the Community Associations Institute. Its cohort of over 125 professionally trained minute takers in Canada and the US undergoes rigorous training in industry best practices that help protect community associations and instil confidence in residents, allowing community managers to focus on operational responsibilities.

Benefits of Virtual Meetings

There is no doubt that the last few months of the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to the rise of virtual meetings. While it might seem like online meetings would make holding discussions or developing processes disjointed, there are several advantages of virtual meetings – especially when gathering in person is difficult or impossible.

Many condo boards have recognized the importance of meeting virtually to keep the board, owners, management, and service providers informed on next steps, decisions, and actions. Whichever platform your corporation has chosen to use, the following advantages of virtual meetings will help ensure progress when physical distancing is encouraged or required.

1. Virtual meetings accomplish the tasks and processes that wouldn’t otherwise be possible

As the phases of reopening are varied, the option of meeting in person might not be a possibility, or desire, for every board. For condominiums in particular, this raises concerns around the ability to not only hold board meetings but also other larger and equally important gatherings such as town hall meetings or annual general meetings (AGMs). Virtual platforms overcome the physical obstacles by allowing those meetings to take place anyway and for decision-making processes to move forward in an informed and timely fashion.

Without virtual meetings, board meetings and owners’ meetings might not be possible. This results in your board putting off decisions and actions that need to be addressed now. Therefore, one of the key benefits of virtual meetings is that they allow those next steps to take place and for tasks to be accomplished that could not otherwise be completed when in-person meetings are challenging or out of the question.

2. Virtual meetings are effective and efficient

Virtual meetings make the decision-making process more productive and efficient. Sometimes progress can only be achieved with regular verbal and visual check-ins and ongoing communication — a tangled e-mail thread amongst board members and management just won’t cut it. Virtual meetings keep things moving.

Especially when accompanied by an agenda, a virtual meeting tends to keep attendees focused. Although online attention spans can be shorter, this creates a sense of urgency to efficiently address the agenda. There is less table talk and more productive conversation and streamlined decision-making — boards can concentrate on action items and execute them effectively. Face-to-face online conversations between team members keep the flow of decisions and actions moving forward and keep organizations and boards up-to-date and on track.

3. Virtual meetings are cost-effective

In this time of financial difficulty, most corporations are seeking savings wherever possible. One of the most important benefits of virtual meetings is their ability to significantly lower overhead costs, including expenses related to travel, venue rental, and the refreshments typically provided at in-person meetings. Additionally, virtual meetings can lead to a reduction in meeting materials and office expenses. For instance, hard copies of documents, which are often printed for in-person gatherings, can be substituted with electronic copies presented virtually using screen-sharing features. This approach is not only cost-effective but also very environmentally friendly.

4. Virtual meetings are universally accessible

The accessibility of virtual meetings is second to none and ensures that all the people who need to attend can do so. All one needs is a device with an internet connection (e.g., smartphone, tablet, or computer) or an old-fashioned telephone.

Another of the many benefits of virtual meetings is that they open the opportunity for additional parties to easily attend. This could include other teams within your corporation, service providers, or your minute-taker, if you use an external vendor. The accessibility of virtual meetings is reason enough to take your discussions online to ensure that those who need to participate can and are comfortable doing so.

Conclusion: The organization that meets together stays together

The changes to the way meetings are being conducted right now don’t mean that your processes will be ineffective. Take your meetings online to keep your corporation on track and moving forward through good virtual communication to allow for streamlined discussions and decision-making. The cost-saving and accessibility benefits of virtual meetings facilitate these needs, and they are key elements in maintaining the viability of your team as you move through challenging times together.

In-Camera vs. Restricted Records

There have been some recent decisions regarding the use of the term “in-camera”. Minutes Solutions has reviewed the decisions and discussed them in detail with our legal counsel. Here, we would like to clearly set out the main issues of each case and our stance going forward. The recent decisions are summarized below:

Decision 1: The main issue being the original request for minutes did not result in all of the minutes being provided. There was a lack of explanation as to why certain portions of the minutes were not provided, and why they were redacted. (Robinson v. Durham Condominium Corporation No. 139, 2021 ONCAT 81)[]

Decision 2: The main issue being the original request for minutes did not result in all the minutes being provided and an overall lack of good minute taking practices by the board. (Russell v. York Condominium Corporation No. 50, 2021 ONCAT 103)[]

Decision 3: The main issue being the original request for minutes did not result in any minutes being provided and a complete lack of response by the board. (Zamfir v. York Condominium Corporation No. 238, 2021 ONCAT 118)[]

The takeaway from all three cases is not only the importance of good minute taking and record keeping, but also the erroneous use of the term “in-camera”, which is not referenced in the legislation governing these decisions. Overall, it is critical to ensure that each request for records is in alignment with the requirements of the applicable legislation and regulations for your region.  As a result of these decisions, Minutes Solutions will no longer be utilizing the term “in-camera” and instead will use the term “restricted records” as we feel it is a more applicable term for our clients, no matter the region.

If there is a request to review records (from a person or entity that is allowed to see the records) the Board is responsible for providing the minutes and ensuring that there are no records omitted, either purposely or unintentionally. If there is a requirement for any redactions to those minutes, then the board must ensure that there is a reason supplied for each redaction.

Minutes Solutions is of the opinion that separating open minutes and restricted records has proven to be a benefit. Separate sets provide ease and efficiency for our clients, particularly in instances where redacting is required. Separate sets help the person redacting the minutes to identify which items are likely to contain portions that should be blacked out. Requesters have the right to review restricted records as long as the appropriate redactions have been made.

We are happy to continue providing minute taking services for restricted records for our clients and will continue to do so for all clients we currently provide this service for. If you no longer wish to receive a separate document with ‘restricted records’ please let us know and we will stop. Ultimately, we will continue to operate with the best interest of our clients at heart.

Audio Solution: Creating the Best Audio for Hybrid Meetings

Boards have adapted and migrated from in-person meetings to virtual meetings, to a blend of both, known as hybrid meetings. Virtual meetings require individual participants to log into the online meeting room remotely; hybrid meetings, on the other hand, involve both remote attendees and participants who gather physically (such as in a conference room) and who log into the online meeting room together.

While many participants are now familiar with common audio disruptions during virtual meetings from technological glitches, hybrid meetings present new challenges because multiple microphones and sound speakers are being used in a single room. This emits audio feedback (or screeching) and echoing that eat up precious meeting time, create distractions for attendees, and make it difficult to understand the discussion.

What Causes Audio Feedback or Echoing

Audio feedback or echoing during hybrid meetings occur when multiple active sound input and output devices are within proximity. If the sound speakers are loud enough to play into nearby microphones, the originating audio signal (i.e., the voice speaking) will be picked up by the nearest microphone, be played through the multiple speakers in the physical room, and then simultaneously be channelled back into the other active microphones nearby, resulting in an audio loop that causes the screeching.

To avoid audio feedback/echoing during hybrid meetings, some participants resort to using a single cell phone that is logged into the Zoom room. While the cell phone’s built-in, echo-cancellation function prevents audio loops, a single microphone is unable to record the participants’ voices with accuracy and clarity (especially if attendees are physically distanced in accordance with public-health protocols). This results in poor sound quality for all meeting participants and makes it difficult for remote attendees to hear and understand the discussion.

How to Fix It

During hybrid meetings on Zoom, in-person participants can minimize audio feedback/echoing while maintaining the audibility and clarity of the conference discussion by isolating active sound speakers and microphones within the physical room.

Step 1:

Only one person in the physical room, such as the chairperson or meeting organizer, logs into the Zoom meeting room and turns ON the speaker and microphone (Figure 1).

(Figure 1)

Step 2:

Everyone else in the physical room logs in using their device, turns OFF the sound speaker, turns ON the microphone (Figure 2), and lowers the device volume (Figure 3). This setup allows Zoom to pick up original audio signals (i.e., voices) throughout the room without emitting and channelling those signals back into nearby microphones and creating feedback/echoing.

Step 3:

Meeting attendees who participate remotely can use both their microphone and speaker on their single device (Figure 4). Using two active audio devices to log into the Zoom room, such as a computer and cell phone, can cause audio feedback/echoing.

(Figure 4)

Now enjoy clear and audible sound during your hybrid meetings and have a clear recording once the meeting is complete, whether attending in-person or remotely. If minutes are being created from a recording of your meeting, it is very important to provide the minute taker the best-quality audio from your meeting.

Cheat Sheet for the Best Audio Quality for Your Hybrid Meeting

  • Only one person in the physical room logs into the Zoom meeting room and turns ON their device’s speaker and microphone.
  • All other in-person attendees (or as many as possible) log in using their device, turn OFF the sound speaker, turn ON the microphone, and lower their device volume.
  • Remote meeting attendees turn ON the microphone and speaker on their single device, as they would for virtual meetings.

Enjoy clear and audible sound during your hybrid meetings, whether attending in-person or remotely.