Note-taking is a skill that we probably learned at school or University and not really honed since then, but we have perhaps found our own personal ways that help us remember important information.
Notes can be taken for various reasons and normally to record important information to refer back to. I take notes at every opportunity and especially at Networking meeting, 121s, Webinars, when reading a document, watching a video, and equally from a verbal presentation or a podcast or from other written text.
There are many different note-taking methods but here are 10 Top Tips to help you be an efficient and successful note-taker no matter whether you are listening to a visual presentation, reading a document, or attending a meeting.
- Don’t write down every word. – I use my own set of abbreviations, codes, and symbols. This will help to summarise information into a short form. It also helps if someone is speaking fast so that you can capture information easily in short form.
- Focus on what is an important key message. – Write a keyword or phrase and underline or highlight this. Try and focus on a keyword or theme and when in a meeting or webinar take note of an agenda/signpost of what will be covered. This will help you make headings and divide up your notes into key themes and subjects.
- Actively listen or Read. Take away all distractions from what you are doing to focus on what is being said. Try and keep your eyes on the person speaking or a specific slide in a presentation. Do not jump to conclusions as someone may say something vital and you may miss this.
- Use Coloured Pens & Highlighters. Using a theme of colours will help to denote the type of notes you are taking and whether actions need to be further effected. Fully highlighting and underlining keywords or phrases helps to make notes stand out and in particular for information to be retained in your brain. Highlight key areas in your notes to perhaps research more into a specific area or subject or to ask a question.
- Read through your notes straight away and make additional notes. This is key to information retention and to review and make additional notes if necessary. It is also vital so that when you refer back to the notes they make sense, so make any amendments, deletions or additions straight away while they are fresh in your mind.
- Make sure you always take notes at every opportunity. Once you get into the swing of taking notes, it becomes part of your daily routine and you become very proficient at it. Ultimately it takes less time and is more accurate in the long run.
- Try and keep your handwriting neat. This can be tricky if there are lots of notes to take but try if you get tired take a break and sometimes use capitals. Some software packages can turn writing into text but this relies on neat handwriting for accuracy. The more you take notes the better your handwriting will become.
- Don’t worry about spelling and grammar. As long as you understand your writing or codes then grammar for notes is not 100% essential but the more accurate you can be the better. Make sure your codes and symbols don’t duplicate and make sense to the context.
- Keep notes in specific notebooks This helps to easily access notes from a particular Client, month year, subject etc. perhaps investigate some digital note taking software or writing tools like Remarkable so that they can be kept digitally.
- Be an artist. sketches can have a huge visual impact on your notes and images tell a story and jog your memory.
There are lots of tips for note-taking but these are my Top Ten! Note-taking is a vital activity.
Remember it is about summarising key concepts as precisely as you can so that you understand their key meaning. Keep to the same method each time as this will make your note-taking faster and easier to recall. It will also help you stay focussed as you follow the same method each time. If you use a template then this will mean that this can be prepared ahead of each meeting and you are fully prepared and raring to go. Colours and sketches will help you to remember and tell a story of the subject matter that you will remember and recount.
Happy Note-taking everyone.