Difference Between Agenda and Minutes (With Table)

Agenda and Minutes both of these words are used in Business English like What’s the agenda of this meeting? or Did you record the minutes of the last meeting? There is an important difference between these two terms and you should be familiar with that.

Agenda vs Minutes

The main difference between Agenda and Minutes is that these two terms have completely different meanings from each other. Agenda is used to describe the purpose of the meeting whereas Minutes is used to describe what happened in the meeting. 

Agenda basically means the objective of the meeting. It is referred to as what you’re planning to discuss during a meeting. It contains a list of objects or topics that needs to be discussed during the whole meeting. Think of it as a plan about what is going to happen. 

Minutes mean the summary of the meeting or event recorded in brief. When talking about the meeting, minutes are said to be an official record of real happenings like what was said or discussed at a meeting. So one can record minutes only when an actual meeting has happened.

Comparison Table Between Agenda and Minutes

Parameters of ComparisonAgendaMinutes
MeaningAgenda is a list of topics that needs to be discussed in the meeting.Minutes is a record of what happened during the meeting, decisions taken, and resolutions passed.
PurposeThe use of an agenda is to help the chief executive make decisions as well as make sure other members are familiar with it. Minutes act as official records and proof about the happenings in a meeting.
WhenAn agenda is prepared before the meeting starts to make everyone familiar with what’s going to be discussed. Minutes are recorded after the meeting ends.
TenseAgenda is always written in future indefinite tenseMinutes are always recorded in past indefinite tense.
Prepared bySecretary prepares the agenda and gets it approved by the chairman. There is no need for approval from members.Secretary prepares minutes too but it is approved by the members. Chairman confirms it finally.

What is Agenda?

Agenda is a term used to describe the schedule or purpose of a meeting. It means a list of things that needs to be discussed in the course of this meeting. Any formal meeting to be conducted needs to prepare an agenda. 

The agenda consists of a sequence that lays forward the list of items that are taken up and discussed by everyone in the meeting. Before the guests make their presence at the venue they are handed this agenda so that they are familiar with the topics that will be discussed during the meeting.

The main objective of preparing an agenda is to make the participants aware of the future happenings and do not sit unaware of their surroundings. Other words that can be used in place of agenda are “program”, “schedule”, or “docket”. 

For example- The boss is asking the manager the agenda for today’s meeting. We’ll get that too so that we know what’s going to happen in the meeting. It is prepared to make the participants aware of what’s going to happen. 

What is Minutes?

Minutes is a term used to describe the official record of a formal meeting conducted. These minutes come to be of great help especially if the members forgot what happened in a particular meeting. Minutes tell what was discussed in the meeting, what was finalized, etc. 

If any member or guest fails to attend the meeting due to unavoidable circumstances, they can always take the help of minutes to know what exactly happened in the meeting. It contains the name of the venue where the meeting happened, the time and date of the meeting, and the name of all those people who attended the meeting. 

Minutes also record the name of the person who is recording the meeting. In most meetings, the secretary reads out the minutes of the previous meeting to make the participants aware about what’s going to be discussed further. Minutes might also be distributed for reference purposes. 

If anyone gets confused about what’s been discussed in the meeting, he or she can always take the help of the reference. An interesting fact about this term is that it is rarely used outside Business English.

Main Differences Between Agenda and Minutes

  1. The agenda specifies the purpose of the meeting whereas Minutes specifies what happened in the meeting.
  2. The agenda is approved by the Chairman only whereas Minutes is approved by both the members and the Chairman.
  3. The agenda is distributed among the guests to make them familiar with the whole process of meeting whereas Minutes help those who couldn’t attend the meeting understand what happened in the meeting.
  4. One should always write Agenda in Future tense whereas Minutes need to be written in Past Tense only.
  5. The agenda is prepared well before the meeting to avoid any unawareness and blankness whereas Minutes are recorded after the meeting ends to act as an official proof of the meeting. 

Conclusion

Agenda and Minutes are often used together in a formal environment basically in business places. For example, Suzan was asked to record the minutes of the meeting so that the boss can show the corporate office that she followed the agenda properly and made decisions according to that.

Which term should be used when totally depends on the timing. If you are talking about what’s going to happen in the meeting, you should use Agenda. And if you are talking about what happened in the meeting, you should use Minutes. These terms can be confusing if one is not aware of the meaning of these two terms. 

References

  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=zBc5DQAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=agenda&ots=Qmgbrop8CD&sig=ROZkN5oaTikDwlQCwFCvXqa9BZ8
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc1316557/