Taking Notes (The Most Important Part of a Meeting)

Photo by: eekim (Flickr)

On certain days, I feel like I spend more time in meetings than I do at my desk, and I’m sure that some of you can relate. I’m very big on note-taking, too, because sometimes, these meetings can go in a lot of different directions, making it a bit tough at times to follow. Again, I’m sure this sounds very familiar to some of you. With that said, it’s important to always take notes in meetings, for a variety of reasons.

Personally, I’ve found that note-taking has some huge advantages. Here are some reasons why you should always have a notebook and pen (or an electronic device, though studies have shown that paper is better) with you when attending any type of meeting in the office.

  • Remember what happened: This one may seem pretty obvious, but it needs to be mentioned. Often times, meetings can be fast-paced, with ideas being passed around rather quickly. This can sometimes make it difficult to keep up. By taking notes, you will have a better memory of what happened and can look back on these notes if you’re feeling forgetful about anything.
  • Share the information with those who couldn’t attend: If you’re a manager, for example, and have to relay information to your department or team at the conclusion of the meeting, it’s best to have notes so that you cover all of the bases and don’t forget to mention anything. When relaying information to others, it’s important to be as accurate and factual as possible because the last thing you want is confusion in the office.
  • Review notes and come up with ideas later: As I mentioned, meetings can often be fast-paced and difficult to completely keep up with. You’re taking notes and processing the information, but there isn’t always much time for creativity. By taking notes, I’ve found that one of the biggest advantages is that later on, when reviewing the notes, you can dissect individual pieces of what you wrote down and develop new ideas from there. For example, if one of the speakers in the meeting throws out a particular theory, idea, or suggestion, you can examine it a bit further later on and come up with additional ideas and suggestions to bring up to your co-workers at a later time. This isreally great for collaboration and brainstorming.
  • Allow people to feel heard and build trust with them: If you’re in a meeting, it’s important to show respect to the person speaking by showing that you’re taking an interest in what they’re talking about. By taking notes, you’re not only benefiting yourself by logging information to review later on, but you’re letting that person know that their individual contribution matters and that you’re taking something away from it. It’s the little things that can matter, as this can even help with morale around the office, believe it or not.

Business meetings can happen pretty frequently, and my two pieces of advice would be to know what to say and what not to say and that note-taking is a great practice, whether it’s electronically or on paper. What do you feel is the biggest benefit to note-taking?

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