Some people feel that meeting notes should be given a minute in a meeting as a thankless task. However, mastering the art of using effective meeting minutes not only allows participants understand issues, discussions, and agreed actions but also helps others who were not in the decision-making process. Don’t underestimate the power and effectiveness of learning how to master this skill.
Choose the Right Tool
Effective note taking starts with choosing the right medium for your notes:
- If you have to share your notes with other people, the digital format is obvious: writing directly on the computer will save you hours of tedious work retyping all your notes.
- If the notes you take are for your use, choose the tool with which you feel most comfortable, whether it is paper or the computer.
Prepare for Note Taking
Effective note-taking starts with a few minutes of preparation. Preparing your note-taking does not require hours of work. It can be the story of 10 minutes of reflection. You just have to ask yourself what you expect from this meeting and how it can help you move forward effectively in your work. Make a list of points to discuss and questions you need to answer. This list will thus constitute the first basis for taking notes for the upcoming meeting.
Create a System to Sort Data
Most people take notes linearly and chronologically without questioning the effectiveness of this method. This simple way of taking notes can be improved with a few tricks. One of the secrets to effectively taking notes is to classify the information as it is transcribed from oral to written. You will be able to identify different types of entries in the flow of your notes: the information you are given, the questions that come to mind, the tasks to be distributed and planned, etc.
Using an information organization system that meets your needs is therefore essential for effective note-taking. If it is possible to reorganize the notes afterward, doing this work as you take notes has two great advantages:
- If you know precisely how to find the questions you need to ask or the different tasks defined during the meeting, it will be much easier to close the meeting with all the elements you need to get to work. An organized note-taking system saves you the energy of sending emails in the hours/days following the meeting because you are missing crucial information that you could have retrieved directly.
- Taking notes efficiently also saves valuable time if you need to share the result of your notes or just process them for your use. Well-organized information avoids having to search for key elements of notes that span several pages.
Take Notes on the Computer
Taking notes in a digital format with the help of a virtual boardroom is a whole different process. If the pace of note-taking is moderate, color coding may be the best solution to organize the information. However, it is easier to manage several documents in parallel.
The first file is your main note space: this is where the information that is shared goes, and everything that is said during the meeting or the course. The second file is a kind of checklist: this is where you can write down the questions you can ask, the tasks, and the next actions to be carried out. It window allows you to put aside the elements that need to be processed.