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No matter if you're a participant or the facilitator, it's almost impossible to remember every crucial detail from a meeting. That's why you need a smart note-taking system. Let's see some possible ways to take useful and readable notes…
A rule of thumb: do not try to write using full sentences or strive for perfection. You won't have time to write down everything and also not every sentence spoken during a meeting will be so important to be documented. Instead, focus on the ideas: write down keywords, graphs, whatever will work as a visual reminder of the context.
Prepare ahead. You can plan your notes ahead using the meeting's agenda. It should contain the biggest topics of the meeting, and these should be your keywords. Write them down spaced evenly on a piece of paper, then write details around. This approach works great when small bits of information, tasks, numbers or insights can be categorized into predefined topics. Each topic will end up creating a cluster with clearly defined context and details.
Visually organize information. Important bits of information should be bigger, details should be smaller. Things that are relevant to each other should be close together. It's like making a mind-map, or a mind-zen-garden of a kind!
Use proper resources. There are many amazing note-taking systems like Cornell Notes, but when it comes to business meetings, easiest is best. Instead of using a pen, use a soft pencil, so you can erase and reorganize your notes and fix mistakes. Having an eraser and enough paper sheets goes without a question!
Use technology. Important meetings may require usage of recording technology, be it audio or video. There are many local regulations specifying if and how a conversation can be recorded, so before recording anybody always ask for their permission and make participants aware of the recording. It would be also polite to inform participants how the recording will be used and when it will be removed, for example: "I'd like to record this meeting as audio if you don't mind, because I'd like to make detailed project notes. I will remove the recording after that". Being transparent and keeping the message clear should make it acceptable to anybody.
Collaborate with other participants. This is our favorite technique of note-taking: instead of being the only responsible person, involve other participants as the facilitator. Share post-its with them and ask to write down their ideas, insights, important numbers, and whatever else will be usable in the meeting. These notes can be them placed on the wall or a window, reorganized, discussed, then easily collected and documented. There are even applications to handle that and we checked, off-brand post-its will work too!
We hope your next meeting will be more productive and every single detail will be documented masterfully. Over time you will work out your own effective note-taking system, but we hope our hints will get you there faster!
Cubitoo offers personalized coaching for startups and small companies focusing on running effective meetings and other communication-related aspects of running a successful company. Get in touch today