How to Take Effective Notes During a Meeting
Have you ever sat through a business meeting only to forget what was discussed as soon as you left the room?
The ability to take effective meeting notes is a skill that is useful, no matter what your job is. It helps you stay organized and can even help strengthen your relationships. If you’re looking to brush up on your note-taking skills, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to find out how you can take meeting notes more effectively.
How to Take Notes in a Meeting that Really Work
Before we get into how you can take effective meeting notes, it is important to define exactly what meeting notes are. Meeting notes are not the same as meeting minutes. We have past blog posts that talk all about meeting minutes, what they are and how to take them, which you can check out here.
Meeting notes are less formal than meeting minutes and are usually not intended to be distributed to other attendees; they are typically just for your own, personal use. They can be used as a quick reference for important topics discussed in your meeting, such as goals, roadblocks, deadlines, and new ideas.
Writing meeting notes does not include word for word transcription of the discussion, but rather, taking down essential ideas that will be useful to recall later. Although meeting notes aren’t as structured or formal as meeting notes, they should still be written according to some sort of guideline. If you don’t, you might find that your notes lack context and are a little confusing.
Which Points Should Be in Your Meeting Notes
If you’re unsure of what exactly to include in your notes, follow this simple structure. Here’s what you should include:
1. Time and date of the meeting
While it may seem like common sense, noting down the time and date of the meeting will be important in the future when you look back on your notes to see what decisions were made and what actions you have to take following the meeting.
2. Names of attendees
Note down a list of attendees so that when the time comes, you can easily remember the people who were involved in the decisions and ideas that were discussed at the meeting. Our best tip on how to do this is by noting down names as you send out (or receive!) the meeting invite. That way, instead of frantically writing down names as people walk into the meeting room, you can have the list of names ready and cross them off as people arrive.
3. Topics discussed and decisions made
This is one of the most important parts of your meeting notes. Take down any important discussions, challenges and action plans that are discussed. Write them down as they’re being discussed, as opposed to after the meeting, as it will help you better remember it. Another added bonus of taking notes down as the meeting is happening is that it will reinforce that you understand what is being discussed and will not lead to any misunderstandings later.
4. Important questions and answers
Writing down any questions asked and answers given during the meeting can provide context to the notes and give you a better grasp of the planned outcomes, allowing you to better work with your team members to reach common goals.
5. Action items
Finally, note down action points that need to be taken, who it’s assigned to and what the deadline is. We often only write down action items that have been assigned to us, and as a result, we lose sight of the bigger picture and the overarching goals that we are aiming to achieve with our teammates.
Best Note Taking Methods & Strategies
You can stay on top of actionable tasks and important deliverables by taking effective meeting notes. Record any key discussions in your meeting notes so that you or your team can refer back to them later. Here are a few tips to help you make sure your note-taking techniques are effective.
1. Choose your preferred note-taking method
This comes down to a matter of personal preference. For your reference, here are some possible methods for you to choose from:
- The outline method – This method relies on your meeting agenda. List the key points outlined in the agenda and as the meeting progresses, fill out the details underneath each point.
- The quadrant method – Divide your notes into four sections, labeling each one with general notes, action items for yourself, action items for other team members, and questions and fill them out as the meeting progresses.
- The slide method – If your meeting is a presentation, ask the presenter if you may have a copy of the slide deck ahead of time. As the speaker is speaking, you can add any notes you have to certain slides.
- The Cornell method – With this method, you take notes in 2 columns. The small column, the left one, is for highlighting the key ideas of the meeting. The larger column, the one on the right, is for writing down more detailed information.
- Don’t write things down verbatim
It’s a waste of time and energy to try to copy down meeting notes word by word. A meeting involves a lot of talking, but not all of it is necessary for people who will be reading the meeting notes afterwards. So that you can focus on the practical work that matters most, write down the major topics that are discussed, the outcomes of that discussion, and any future steps.
Use shorthand, symbols, acronyms, or abbreviations to quickly get common phrases or concepts onto the page if you’re handwriting your notes. Just don’t forget to keep track of their meanings to avoid confusion later.
3. Use a template
If you know us, we always recommend using templates when it comes to note-taking! This will save you time on formatting as you go along. Regardless of who is taking notes, all of your meeting notes will have the same format, and if you choose to share them, everyone on the team will know what to expect from your notes.
4. Transcribe your notes (with Notiv!)
It is often difficult to actively listen, participate in the discussion and take notes at the same time. Use a note-taking software like Notiv to take notes for you while you focus on having productive conversations. By recording your meeting using a software like Notiv, you are able to get the important details of the meeting from the transcript and won’t have to listen to the whole recording again just to remember something small, like a date or a name.
Automate and Optimize Your Meeting Notes with Notiv
Notiv is here to help you record, transcribe and summarize your meetings so you can focus on having productive conversations. As time passes, you may look back at your physical notes and they might no longer make sense to you. By having a recording of your meeting, you’ll be able to refer back to what was said and get word for word reminders of what decisions were made and how they were reached. Additionally, voice is more engaging and you’re able to listen to the meeting as you’re on the go.
Notiv uses artificial intelligence technology to record and transcribe your meeting notes with summaries, highlights and action points. Notiv automatically syncs with your Google or Office calendar to join and record your scheduled meetings no matter where your meetings are held. It takes notes in real time based on what is being said with speaker ID, so that you can differentiate between speakers in the transcript.
After your meeting ends, Notiv will automatically send you an email with the recording and transcript that you can share with meeting attendees or those who need to be aware of what happened during the meeting.
Notiv helps you stay on track and collaborate with your team in an easy and efficient way. To get more details on how Notiv works, click here.
Note Taking Template
There are many free templates out there online but this is one we personally like. Depending on what your meeting is about, your notes may vary but overall, this simple template provides a structure for any meeting.
Before attending your next meeting, think about what you aim to achieve out of it. This will help you with your note-taking and will directly affect how you retain information after the meeting.
Creating a centralized area where all due dates and action items live is the easiest approach to keep your project and meeting notes organized. We recommend using Notiv to keep track of your meetings. To try Notiv out for yourself, click here.