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March 22, 2019

How to Take Good Meeting Notes

The ability to take clear, effective notes at meetings is important for productivity and professionalism. You have to listen for key messages, capture them quickly, and be able to translate the notes later! Here are some tips to help you improve note taking.

  • Go Old School. While some people prefer to take notes on an tablet, laptop, or smartphone, these devices create a separation between you and the speaker. It gives the impression that you are working on other things rather than participating in the meeting. Also, it can be hard to capture notes on a device if someone is speaking quickly since they will speak faster than you can type.

Many experts agree that using an old-fashioned pen and paper for note taking is accepted practice—at least for now! If you do use electronic devices, make sure you turn off incoming alerts.

  • Use Shorthand. Create your own shorthand or learn standard shorthand. Those who frequently take notes, especially notes for meeting minutes, use shorthand. This includes visual note taking, such as drawing an arrow from a task to the name of someone at the meeting. You can also use color coding, for example assign a color to each person and code tasks by the person’s assigned color code: “Task A—Red, Task-B—Green.”
  • Capture Key Points.Start before the meeting by checking the agenda and set up your notes with a new page for each agenda item. Place the agenda topic at the top of the page and fill in important details as each item comes up. Listen for key messages and note them as briefly as possible on the appropriate page.
  • Write Up Your Notes ASAP. As soon as possible after the meeting ends, write up your notes while they are fresh in your memory.

Taking good notes is a useful skill at every level of your career and helps you become more positively productive.

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