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Nothing derails a meeting faster than people speaking just to be heard, interrupting each other, and failing to integrate each other’s points. Being a good listener can help you be sure you aren’t adding to the chaos. Use a simple note-taking method called “margin notes” to help you separate key points of discussion from your questions and concerns, allowing you to truly listen to what’s being said. In the main body of your notes, write down only what the other person is saying, and then write your ideas and judgments to the side, allowing you to set aside your own voice, and giving you space to listen to others. If you take the time to write down your observations and make connections between key ideas, you can thoughtfully craft your contributions to the discussion and set an example for others to do the same.

When I write notes in my journal, I’m just trying to scribble down as much as possible. Later on, I decide whether to follow some of those first impressions or whether to abandon them.

Natasha Trethewey

Here are reasons you should learn to take notes in Meetings;

  • Your memory is not as good as you think, so take note of what one of the world’s smartest men said!
  • Many meetings are filled with facts, names of contacts, names of projects, details of those projects, budget details etc.  You will not remember all of that data after the fact!
  • When you can show detailed notes from a client meeting it demonstrates your professionalism to your manager.
  • Later you can use your electronic calendar to identify the date of any meeting you have had (because of course you also use your calendar religiously) and go back to the notebook you used at that time, to tell you what was said at that meeting.   This can be useful for a million reasons.
  • Among your notes will be tidbits of information that may prove crucial at some future date … contact names, phone numbers, dollar amounts (eg revenue spend of a client), commitments etc.
  • If you have notes written down then you can quickly share them with anyone … scan and email, transcribe into a CRM or even photocopy and drop on someone’s desk!
  • The act of writing things down actually improves memory of the facts … so you remember those facts better when you write them down!
  • Taking notes means that you am not going to forget commitments you make … if you are in a meeting and commit to sending information later it will be highlighted in your notes.  If it is only in your memory then there is a chance you might forget.
  • When you are meeting with a client and take notes it demonstrates your seriousness/professionalism to the client.

Cell phones, alas, have pretty much ruined train travel, which I used to love. I could read or even sketch notes for what I was working on.

Thomas Mallon

Here are Good TIPS for note taking.

  • Your notes should be legible to you … if your handwriting is bad then use capital letters.
  • Leave lots of space in your notes to add commentary later.
  • Keep all of your notes on one topic or meeting together … don’t have it in different places.
  • If you take notes in a sales meeting it is good practice to transcribe the information into quick notes for the CRM.
  • If you use a consistent method of taking notes then you can always find what you need later when wanting to refer back … so use a notebook, a time management system or some such organised method of collecting notes.
  • Always date notes and list who is present (eg. Joe & Ted or Sales Team etc.), a title would be good too … these can be done before the meeting in your best handwriting to make the notes easier to find.
  • Offer to take notes in company meetings and share them … its a good way to develop note taking skills.
  • Always review the notes from your last meetings before going to the next meeting.

Copying or Writing without understanding is not a very effective form of learning. While taking note, you are not just trying to win points but to review them before you either make decisions.

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