You have to go to yet another meeting – your fourth or fifth in two days. Going to meetings ad nauseam takes its toll and trying to remember every detail from every meeting is next to impossible. So how do you keep track of all the meeting details? You take notes – every meeting, without fail. Note-taking is a highly effective skill not to be dismissed lightly.
Why take notes?
It all comes down to preserving your brainpower for other tasks. When you take notes, the simple act of writing allows your brain to assimilate and absorb the information. You can focus on the items that are of importance to you or your department. Your notes are handy when you need to revisit the information at a later date.
What should be in your notes?
- Answers to questions you may have
- Critical or sensitive information
- Actions items
Recording these items makes for easy reference if there are questions or doubts about what was discussed or what decisions were made during the meeting.
Here are 3 note-taking tips to consider for that next meeting.
Prior to the Meeting
Before heading to the meeting, review the agenda – note areas of importance that will require additional details or will have decisions attached. If you create the agenda, design it with space in each topic area to record your notes. This method also makes it easy to store meeting info in one spot – no searching through a notebook required. Being prepared is half the battle.
During the Meeting
There are always new forms of technology for note taking but pen and paper is still my first choice. Using a laptop or software program can get you caught up in trying to capture exactly what is being said which can make you miss other aspects of the conversation at hand.
Pen and paper gives you the ability to focus on the speaker. Recording full sentences is difficult and unnecessary, especially when someone is speaking quickly. Use lists or bullet points for key or critical details. Record important words and use abbreviations and symbols where possible that are meaningful to you. If you use your own form of shorthand – even better.
In the end, you are the one that needs to decipher your notes – make sure you can understand what you’ve written and they make sense when referenced at a later date.
End of the Meeting
Review your notes and highlight any parts that you need to action or reference at a later date. If your notes are a bit of a hodgepodge, write a short summary. If you are the note-taker, write up the notes for distribution as soon as possible following the meeting.
Try out this template for your next meeting.
Taking effective notes is a skill worthy of your attention. In today’s world, meetings will continue to take place with great frequency. Take notes and reduce your brain clutter.
After all, you have more important tasks to conquer.
Are you a note-taking wizard? I’d love to hear what works for you.