I get it. Nobody likes taking notes during meetings. Even fewer people like reading them – which might be why nobody likes to take them. It’s a vicious circle.
But – and it’s a big “but” – taking meeting notes does not have to be cumbersome or useless. And having a written record of meetings can be really useful.
MY TOP 4 NOTE-TAKING METHODS
I compared four of the most popular note-taking methods for you. Here are the results. If you prefer watching over reading, check the video below.
One of the easiest and most common types of note-taking is outlining. It involves structuring your notes using a hierarchical system. You start with the main points, subpoints, and details.
It keeps your notes clear, well-organized, and easy to review later.
How to use
To organize the topics, you put
bullet points. For every section, begin with headings of the
main topics of your meeting. Then, underneath, write the
subtopics and then the related details. These can be written as key point #1, key point #2, and so on. By using indentions, you can emphasize the relationships between various parts or topics.
Taking notes with the outline method does not require any particular preparation or template. A blank sheet of paper – or an empty document on your PC, tablet, or even phone – will do nicely.
You just put your meeting title at the top. Then, each section starts with a heading per main topic. Each subtopic and related facts are written underneath the proper heading.
Mind Mapping is a visual note-taking technique that uses a central idea or topic at the center of a page, with branches radiating outwards to capture related concepts and subtopics.
It helps to represent connections between ideas visually and stimulates creative thinking and brainstorming. It encourages using colors, symbols, and images to represent connections and relationships between elements.
Mind maps capture information holistically and creatively, allowing for flexibility and non-linear thinking. This method promotes better understanding and memory retention by engaging the brain’s left and right hemispheres, fostering a more comprehensive and interconnected representation of knowledge.
How to use
- Write the main idea in the center of your page in a box or circle.
- Write each agenda item in the circles linked to the outside of the main idea.
- As the meeting progresses, draw lines pointing to sub-thoughts, ideas, facts, and figures.
- Draw pictures and interlink items.
- Export and share.
The Cornell Method is a systematic approach for taking, organizing, and reviewing notes. Professor Walter Pauk of Cornell University devised this method in the 1950s.
This method encourages active listening and later review by condensing and organizing information effectively.
- At the top of the page, write down the name of the course, meeting, or seminar, the date, and the subject.
- The left portion should be around 5 cm wide, called the `Cue / Questions / Keyword Column`.
- The larger column on the right is the `note-taking column`.
- At the bottom of the page, reserve a space of about 5 cm for a `summary`.
How to use
- Write down your notes in the note-taking column. Make them as detailed as necessary, noting any examples and sketching any diagrams that will make them more meaningful.
- write keywords and key phrases or actions in the cue column immediately after the event.
- Now revisit the notes and write a summary in the bottom section of your page while the whole event is still fresh in your mind.
The Quadrant note-taking method is a structured approach that involves dividing a page into four quadrants or sections.
This method allows for clear organization and separation of information, making it easier to review and study later.
How to use
As with the Cornell method, preparing for taking notes before the meeting makes sense. But even if you don’t, it’s really very easy and does not take much time.
- Divide the paper – or your document – into four separate quadrants.
- The top left section is where you write down any `questions` that need answers during a meeting
- The top right section gives space for `notes` that are key insights.
- The bottom left is for your `personal to-dos`.
- The bottom right is used as a `to-do list` for others.
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