Writing Effective Meeting Notes : Take Your Note-Taking Efficiency To New Heights!

Writing Effective Meeting NotesOften I get pulled into unavoidable (sometimes unbearable) corporate experiences, called meetings. Some days, it seems like that only thing I have done is attend meetings! There was a time I used to scribble something on a notebook. I called it my meetings notes. (Basically, I had an accumulation of unprocessed meeting notes.)

The “wake up call” occurred one day when I spent about 20 minutes trying to find a “meeting note page”, on a meeting I attended about a month ago! Worse part was that I couldn’t remember a single thing from that meeting. (Things did fall into place when I finally found the particular page though!)

If you attend many meetings, track many projects, etc the benefit of note taking will be painfully obvious and taking meeting notes becomes a survival skill, naturally!

Yet, I am surprised at how few people bother to take notes in meetings.

Why Bother With Meetings Notes?

1. The value of the meeting (in most cases) is the action taken after everyone's left the meeting room. Effective meeting notes make the difference between a productive meeting and a waste of the whole group's efforts.

2. Taking notes prevents you from zoning away into the ceiling tiles! It is a way to stay more alert and be actively involved.

3. Notes make a platform for creativity.

Pen & Paper or Electronic Notes?

Recently, I put down my pen and paper and started using Microsoft OneNote. My reasons being
1. Since I have been in front of a computer all my working life, I type faster than I write. Now my notes are more comprehensive, as I am able to cover more details than before.

2. The ease of templates. From Status meetings to design meetings to …, I just have to fill in the blanks in the appropriate template.

3.It’s searchable; I am able to retrieve what I need in a few seconds.

4. Unlikely to get “lost”. With the notebook/paper, I sometimes, forget and leave it in some meeting room! The sad part is, I only realize it either when someone kindly brings it to me, or I need it for the next meeting. So having the laptop, simplifies this without a doubt.

Yes, the results have been uplifting. However, I still prefer the flexibility paper gives me to create diagrams and freely position my notes on the page. So based on the type of meeting, I use both in combination.

The process

Here are a few questions that will generalize what needs to be noted.

1. Which date was the meeting?
2. What type of meeting was it?
3. Who were the participants?
4. What was the purpose of the meeting?
5. What were the topics discussed?
6. What decisions were made?
7. What were the action items and who was responsible for each?
8. Will there be follow up meetings? What needs to be addressed in those?

For a long time I was taking meeting notes without a clue of how to go about it. Through the years I have refined “what” I take as meeting notes. As with many skills, good note taking skills take time to develop!

If you put these into practice you will find yourself more efficient and effective. It will definitely have a positive effect on your productivity.
Do you already have a habit of taking notes? What do you prefer? Pen or electronic?

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Evelyn Lim said...

It's great to get organized. Still, I must admit that I'm one of those who face some troubles in doing so. Let's just say that I have a unique system of doing things...LOL!!

For me, it is usually pen and paper. However, in certain situations, I choose to use the laptop. I type pretty fast too. So typing is not an issue for me.

positively present said...

I came across your site over at Think Simple Now. I love this post and the great advice you offer on here. Thanks!

Tommy Kront said...

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