Tips to Taking and Using Your Meeting Notes Effectively

In the multiple meetings you have each week, it can feel chaotic trying to keep track of all of your notes and tasks. But not all notes are beneficial and constructive to performance, even if you’re jotting things down verbatim.

In college, I thought writing down all the text displayed on a PowerPoint was more important than hearing what my professor was saying, and because of this I often missed details. Even worse, I’d have to go back and flip through 10 pages of notes just to find one important ROI formula.

Long story short: I ditched those old habits when I started my career. I began utilizing my notes to my advantage and, to guide how I prioritize my day and my week. Don’t be like the college me; use these tips to navigate your meeting notes.

  • Go old school – use pen and paper.

With all the distractions on your laptop, tablet, or cell phone, it’s suggested (and typically a preferred method by most organizations) to take your notes via pen and paper. Plus, you won’t seem rude or disrespectful to the presenter if you’re jotting your thoughts down, making eye contact, and engaging in conversation, rather than staring at a computer screen, even if you are taking notes.

  • Document who, what, where, when.

At the very least, date and document the subject of the meeting. Including who was present will help you when you have questions that need to be answered or requires additional follow-up.

  • Jot down overarching themes.

You may find yourself writing down every single bullet point on a slide – thus sometimes missing the crucial details of the presentation. Often, the facilitator will share the presentation assets with you before or after the meeting so you won’t miss every little detail shared verbally. Things you might document include: deadlines, project statuses, and action items.

  • Create a “to-do” list.

Circles or checkboxes, you decide. Create a running list of follow-up items. Try to order them in a meaningful way, whether it’s priority items first or stuff that’s easy to cross off. Highlight or denote an asterisk next to items that are crucial to complete.

  • It’s okay to doodle!

Doodling stimulates the mind and often creates connections. And, for some people, visual storytelling is an easier option to retain information than by jotting a note or two. As long as you remain engaged, go ahead: draw your stick figures and scribbles!

  • Review and follow up immediately.

Whether it’s your thoughts or an action item, following up on your notes directly after a meeting has concluded is crucial to executing your tasks properly. Utilize your notes and don’t keep a project from being completed, or worse, your colleagues waiting!

At the end of the day, attendees will get out of a meeting what they put into it. By taking effective notes, being engaged and coming out of the meeting with meaningful action items, you can ensure your organization doesn’t have another unproductive meeting again. Who knew that such productivity comes starts with a pen, paper, and a little attentiveness? For more productivity tips, marketing insights, and company news, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Article written by:

McKenzie Decker

Marketing Manager