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A Life-Saving Habit: Note-taking in Meetings

“The palest ink is stronger than the sharpest memory.” proverb is enough to emphasize the importance of writing. Like in every critical moment of our lives, taking notes in meetings saves us from forgetting the most important details underlined. Most of the time when we are out of a meeting, we have hard times recalling some certain parts. Note-taking in meetings lets employees be prepared for the next part to take action according to the outcome of the gathering. We, to make a better understanding, plan to draw a bold frame about note-taking, meeting notes vs minutes, and the components of a meeting note. Reading further you’ll have a clearer idea about haw to take notes like a pro.

What Is a Meeting Minute?

If this article has to cover the subject of “taking meeting notes”, we should definitely answer the question “What is a meeting minute?” as well. Although being an important part of note-taking, meeting minute is differentiated from meeting note with a sharp line. Below are the differences between meeting minutes and notes:

Meeting Minutes

  • are formal
  • should be in a certain format
  • should be shared with meeting participants after the meeting
  • include transcript of the meeting

Meeting Notes

  • are informal
  • do not have to be written in a certain format
  • are for personal use
  • include key details of the meeting instead of a transcript
  • do not have to be sent to participants after the meeting

As you can clearly understand from the above list, taking meeting minutes are for every participant of the meeting to see the outcome. However, meeting notes are special to the notetaker not to forget the important details from the meeting.

What Are Meeting Notes?

Now that you have a clear answer to “What are meeting notes?”, we can do with a brief explanation to this part. Taking meeting notes serve as a quick reference to what have been discussed in the meeting. They are totally personal and don’t have to be understood by anyone else but the notetaker. We can also call them “jot-notes”. Even if you do it for yourself, meeting notes had better include those topics below:

  1. Date and time
  2. Topics discussed
  3. Meeting participants
  4. Next steps to be taken
  5. Questions to be asked

Now is time to explain the purpose of all these topics. Let’s go!

Date and Time

Although it seems unnecessary to most of you, specifying date and time in note-taking during meetings is essential. Especially for recurring meetings, attendees tend to forget which topics have been talked in which meeting. That’s why you must see the date and the time of the meeting when you go back to meeting notes as reference. Start you meeting notes writing down the date and the time.

Topics Discussed

This is another precious component to be add in meeting notes, maybe the most important one. Because meeting notes will take form according to those topics. The propose of including what topics have been discussed in the meeting is to remember every detail without further effort.

Meeting Participants

This step is generally useful when you have questions on your mind after the meeting. Names of the attendees written on your meeting notes will guide you well though this journey.

Next Steps to Be Taken

This is the hard-hitting part of meeting notes. As people have bias to forget, when you do not mention these next steps that means you will most probably have hard times recalling taking required actions for the next meeting. And if you forget your tasks assigned to you, you could not do your job properly. Nobody wants such an experience!

Questions to Be Asked

Questions scratched on your meeting notes will help you remember the queries to be directed to the related participant. Not to interrupt the meeting, you may write down your questions and ask them to the person after the meeting.

Essentials of Effective Note-taking

Everybody has its own way of writing. That’s why effective note-taking in meetings is not a one-size-fits-all thing. You do it your way while your colleague does it his own. Below, we try to underline some important tips for note-taking in meetings for you to form your own template.

  • Instead of long sentences, prefer abbreviations and symbols.
  • Use bullet lists.
  • Do not focus on grabbing every word and writing everything verbatim. Only the most important details will do fine.
  • A research carried out among students in the United States shows that handwriting is much more useful than digital writing. So, try to go old-school and use pen and paper instead of a tablet or laptop. You will thank us later!
  • If it works for you, form your own note-taking template and use it every time you take notes. This will save you time.
  • Write down your questions to be asked at the end of the meeting.
  • Underline the most important parts.