Best Tips For Note-Taking At Meetings

Written by Trisha Bhullar

Meetings often set you up for failure. Instead of note-taking at meetings, you spend more time thinking about how conference rooms are cold, discussions drag on, and the last night’s lack of sleep is really catching up to you… before you know it, the meeting’s over and you haven’t got a clue what was covered. Sounds familiar? Well, we might just know how to solve this problem.

 

WHAT’S SO GOOD ABOUT TAKING NOTES AT MEETINGS?

Note-taking is a great way to stay engaged. As you listen carefully to a conversation and condense the main points into understandable chunks, this cognitive process keeps you involved (and awake!) 

Besides this, taking meeting minutes is essential to subsequent team productivity. Instead of wasting time trying to recall the main points of a meeting (or waiting for the assigned scribe to email the meeting transcript), your team will know how to move forward immediately. This information retention gives meetings their value, distinguishing action plans from meaningless discussion. 

Ultimately, this results in a higher quality of work. Since time is spent on moving forward rather than re-consolidating, teams can get tasks done efficiently. Any queries are clearly noted in the meeting minutes so there’s no hesitation in how to proceed. 

 

THE ONLY TIPS YOU’LL NEED

#1 MEDIUM DOESN’T MATTER!

Plenty of sources will tell you that note-taking on pen and paper is the best way to go, and even though there is a scientific foundation for this, let’s be realistic. In theory, artsy shorthand notes sound great. However, in reality, you can’t write fast enough, you end up having to retype everything to send to your team, you lose an important sheet of paper or you end up not being able to read your own handwriting! In the 21st century, online note-taking is an efficient, neat and secure way to keep track of essential meeting points. 

Platforms like GoogleDocs, Evernote, or even MindMeister (if mind-mapping works better for you), are best-suited to online note-taking. If you prefer handwritten notes, use tools to alternate between note-taking and participating in a discussion.  Using a Timeqube, for example, you can unobtrusively manage the time you spend on note-taking during a discussion. This will make it easier to keep up with discussions, distribute minutes, and safe-keep documents. 

 

#2 BE ORGANIZED AND CONCISE

Even if you choose an online note-taking approach, things can get messy if you try to transcribe the entire meeting’s discussion. Here are the most important things to note down during a meeting: facts, issues raised, decisions and action plans. The rest is history. Even while documenting these ideas, keep sentences short and sweet. You can even try condensing ideas into simple bullet-point lists to promote clarity and precision. 

What if you prefer handwritten notes? Well, organization and shorthand is even more important for you! One of the best techniques for effective note-taking is the Cornell Method. Divide your paper into a small left column and larger right column. Most of your notes should be in the right column, while the left column will subsequently be used when you review your notes and weed out the most important points. 

 

At the end of the day, meetings are long and dreary — so you really should make the best of them! Note-taking is a great way to start.