How to Take Excellent Meeting Notes (Our 7 Tips to Get You There)

Leaving the meeting room with concise notes that effectively summarize key points and action items is crucial to getting the most out of a meeting. However, in the busyness of the day-to-day and with multiple distractions competing for our attention, we might not always end up with notes of the highest caliber. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways that can help to improve the quality of meeting notes that you can start implementing right away.

Here are our top 7 tips to make sure your notes are top-notch.

Take Handwritten Notes

Using a computer to take meeting notes can be incredibly useful in many contexts, but may not always be appropriate for every occasion, especially if doing so is distracting to others in the room. Before bringing your computer to a meeting, consider the meeting environment and determine whether it might not be better to take handwritten notes. Moreover, studies have shown that there is a magic to writing things down and that doing so can actually support the retention of factual knowledge. Indeed, we’ve talked about the usefulness of writing things down when it comes to increasing overall productivity and that remains true in this context, too. 

Jot Things Down in Bullet Form

If you’ve resolved to take handwritten notes, you will quickly find that trying to jot down every word being said in a meeting is nearly impossible! Instead, make sure to capture important points in bullet form. When doing so, be mindful that those notes still make sense when you’re reviewing them at a later date.

Prioritize Key Points

While the bullet form approach can certainly be helpful in condensing your meeting notes, prioritizing what you write down or choose to omit in general is also very valuable. For example, you may find that details regarding an unrelated conversation that two of your colleagues had during the meeting is neither interesting or relevant. As such, as a general rule we recommend including at least some of the following points in your notes:

  • Topics covered
  • Action items
  • Decisions
  • Items that were not discussed but might need additional follow up
  • Questions and answers (Q&As)
  • Key facts

Use Headings to Create Visual Breaks

Large blocks of text can be difficult to digest both during a meeting and after. In a worst case scenario, it can create real difficulty in adding supplementary points or reviewing something that was already mentioned. Likewise, understanding the key points from a meeting after the fact can be equally difficult if notes lack structure. 

As such, headings are a great way to group ideas, identify themes and generally improve the organization of your meeting notes so that they may truly serve as a helpful resource. 

Highlight Key Ideas (Literally!)

Don’t be afraid to add some variation to your notes with the help of color! Using highlighter markers and different colored pens can make certain themes and keywords stand out visually and emphasize ideas and themes. Using color can bolster the general usefulness of your meetings notes as a resource.

Use Symbols and Diagrams Where Appropriate

In the same way that bullet points can effectively communicate ideas in a condensed and more visually appealing way, so too can symbols and diagrams. These devices are particularly useful in communicating more complex ideas, where text alone may fall short. They are also a helpful accompaniment to text itself, and can serve to further illustrate a concept or idea. 

Compare Your Notes to the Meeting Transcript

Finally, refer back to the meeting transcript to ensure that you captured all key ideas and concepts. With the TranscribeMe app, you can place your mobile device next to you during the meeting and record the discussion. You don’t have to worry about missing a single detail, as with the recording at your fingertips you’ll receive the audio-to-text transcript in as little as one business day! You’ll be well on your way to reaching your deliverables and hitting those action items in no time.

Ready to get started? Upload your audio and order transcripts from our Customer Portal online.

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