Do you ever go back to your team meeting notes and discover you’ve scribbled pages of incomprehensible nonsense? You’re not the only one who feels this way.
It can be difficult to jot down crucial information while everyone is attempting to say something. Ideas are frequently overlooked, action points are lost in translation, and your handwriting is occasionally illegible.
Worst of all, you can’t recollect the specifics you need to complete your tasks when it’s time to perform them.
Learning how to take great meeting notes may appear to be a thankless task, but it has significant payoffs.
They’ll not only help you remain on top of important things, but they’ll also save you time and increase your productivity.
What do you mean when you say “meeting notes”?
Meeting notes differ from meeting minutes.
While meeting minutes provide a formal, organised summary of a meeting, team meeting notes serve as your personal record of the issues discussed.
Meeting minutes are intended to be shared with all those involved, although meeting notes are frequently kept for personal purposes. That’s not to suggest you shouldn’t share them, but you should make sure they’re legible first.
Why is it critical to understand how to take notes in meetings?
Nothing is more frustrating than leaving a meeting feeling terrific and then entirely forgetting what happened when it’s time to concentrate. This is a problem because you require those details to do the job correctly.
We’ve all been in that situation. It’s easy to become frustrated, if not desperate, in our quest for information without appearing negligent or inattentive.
This is why taking notes during team meetings is so important: it relieves the pressure of remembering things and makes it easier to stay present (and productive) both during and after the meeting.
Meeting notes, when done correctly, allow you to:
Make a note of the material in your own words. It’s simpler to grasp and remember information if you write down thoughts and significant points in your own words.
Assimilate real-time data. Writing or typing your notes allows you to better absorb and recall the information.
Improve the efficiency of your meetings. Maintaining your focus and staying present by accurately capturing any ideas, action items, and objectives presented during the discussion.
Records can be saved and shared. Keep your notes safe and readable so you can share them with the rest of your team and stakeholders.
Keep a record of crucial information. Examine your notes after a meeting to evaluate if the objectives mentioned were met (or if anything was overlooked).
What should you write down in your meeting notes?
It’s tempting to jot down everything that’s said in a meeting, but do you really need written proof of what lead designer Tim did over the weekend?
Making your note-taking efforts more productive and easier to filter through ideas is as simple as jotting down only the most useful information.
Here are some examples of the types of notes you should take:
1. Themes on the agenda
Summarize the most important aspects of each agenda item, including what was discussed and any outcomes noted. For brevity, try to keep each point short (less than three sentences).
2. Steps to take
The action items are what makes a meeting go from being a team chat to being a productive part of your schedule. Make a list of each action point, who is responsible for it, and when it is due.
3. Concepts from the group
Meetings frequently generate new ideas, especially when working with various departments at the same time. Make a list of any that stand out and that you can follow up on later.
4. Important questions
What significant issues arose during the meeting? Make a list of these, as well as any responses that were given. Make a specific note of any open-ended queries that require follow-up on your part so you don’t forget to add relevant chores to your to-do list.
5. Important decisions
Your meetings’ meat is made up of decisions. Details will be forgotten, but it’s critical to remember what was determined, as well as the following actions and any outcomes.
What is the best way to take meeting notes?
It’s one thing to know what to take notes on. Taking effective meeting notes is a more difficult nut to crack.
It all boils down to preparation and structure, like with other productivity hacks:
Before the meeting, start taking notes.
A few minutes spent getting your ducks in order before entering a meeting can make all the difference.
Make a meeting notes template with all of the information you want to remember. This is especially useful if you’re in the middle of a meeting and can’t recall what you want to get out of it.
The following items could be included in your meeting notes template:
- The meeting’s date and time
- The meeting’s purpose
- Meeting Presenters
- Goals of the meeting
- Any remaining questions to be answered.
- Next steps and action items
- Milestones and deadlines
It’s much easier to slip your notes into the appropriate locations as you go along if you have these sections listed out before you go into the meeting.
Select your preferred technique of taking notes.
Taking meeting notes allows you to stay organised and remember important information from the meeting. It’s pointless to follow a methodology that doesn’t work for you. Because we all take in and digest information in different ways, your notes should represent your preferred method.
There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. However, there are a few well-known approaches that you might employ for inspiration.
Notetakers should write basic notes on the right side of the page and key takeaways on the left, according to the Cornell note-taking system.
This allows you to scan the most essential points rapidly while still recording important background data.
The Cornell Method is divided into five steps:
- Record: Make a list of important details.
- Reduce: Using keywords, summarise vital information.
- Recite: In your own words, rewrite the crucial facts.
- Reflect: Consider how you’ll use the knowledge you’ve gathered.
- Review: After the meeting, go over your notes again.
The Quadrant Methodology
This easy note-taking approach asks you to divide your paper into four pieces and fill each with the following information:
- During the meeting, there may be certain questions that arise.
- During talks, ideas that spring to mind
- Personal to-do lists, containing milestones and deadlines
- Certain tasks others have been entrusted with.
The Method of Mind Mapping
If you prefer a more visual approach, try mind mapping, which involves creating a graphic representation of thoughts and concepts.
In a diagram format, key bits of information are combined to provide a fast, birds-eye picture of the meeting. Nonlinear note-takers had a 20% greater comprehension rate than linear note-takers, according to one study.
After the meeting, take care of your notes.
Have you ever put your notepad in your bag after a meeting only to find it dog-eared when you return? Or have you ever opened your PC to find disorganised notes scattered across various platforms?
If you answered yes, all you need to do now is take care of your meeting notes.
The more time you spend summarising, storing, and acting on your notes after a meeting, the less time you’ll waste later trying to sort through jumbled information.
Consider the following after the meeting:
- Any handwritten notes should be typed up.
- Add your notes to your customer relationship management system (CRM). (eg. RisePath CRM).
- Use your project management platform to convert action items into tasks. (eg. RisePath PlanCentral)
- Any task can have reminders and due dates added to it.
- Add your notes to your project dashboard or store them in the appropriate folder.
- Sharing your notes with key members of your team and stakeholders.
Tips for taking excellent conference notes in a hurry
When it comes to taking meeting notes, practice makes perfect. The more you do it, the easier it becomes, and you’ll find a method that works for you faster.
To get the most out of your note-taking efforts, try these top suggestions.
1. Take notes throughout meetings.
Request permission to record meetings so that you can review them later. This is very beneficial for long sessions with a lot of relevant material to discuss.
2. Organize your notes
Use one of the aforementioned note-taking strategies or come up with your own. The more structured your notes are, the easier it will be to keep organised and get the most out of them when you need to refer back to them.
3. Make sure your notes are easily accessible.
Make sure your notes don’t get lost in the shuffle. Maintain their relevance by ensuring that they are accessible to all project participants so that you and your colleagues can meet your deadlines (without missing any important pieces of the puzzle).
4. Include necessary materials and links.
Add relevant links and attachments to your notes in your CRM or project management programme to make them more interesting. All team members can readily access the tools and information they need to get the job done well by gathering your resources in one location (and on time).
5. Don’t try to catch everything.
When attending a meeting, try not to jot down everything that is said. Instead, focus on the significant aspects, such as the main concepts discussed, any decisions made, agreed-upon action items, and any important issues that arose.
6. Think about the key goal.
The type of notes you take and what you do with them thereafter will be influenced by the meeting’s aim. It’s not necessary to write down every single idea during a brainstorming session, for example. Instead of transcribing the ideas you know won’t work, it’s more productive to shortlist the finest ones.
On the other hand, in a one-on-one conversation, the majority of the talking topics will almost certainly be really useful. In this scenario, it’s probably worth noting down what your boss (or team member, if you’re running it) says.
7. Use a template to take consistent good notes.
Use a pre-made meeting notes template to make your life easier. Offering pertinent suggestions and assisting you in structuring your notes in a memorable, easy-to-digest manner, eliminates all guesswork from note-taking.
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