How to take effective notes

Meetings, interviews with colleagues or a manager, client appointments, briefings… Whether we welcome them through the door or they sneak through the window, note-taking is part of our daily life. Here's our secret on how to make note-taking your ally. So, grab your notepads!

Before: Be prepared

  • Find out in advance what your meeting is about
  • Prepare what you need to take with you accordingly
  • On the handwritten notes, draw a margin on the right of the sheet to add your remarks or questions
  • Position yourself well in the room to make sure you can hear clearly
  • Determine how the notes will be used.

These points may seem like small details, but they can determine the success of your note-taking because you won't have enough time during the meeting to decide what information should be in your final document. Better to have all your eggs in one basket.

During: Don't lose the thread

  • Be satisfied with the general idea of ​​what's being said
  • Write down the difficult-to-remember elements first (numbers, dates, names)
  • Beware of technical words and expressions
  • Identify the keywords that mark out the speaker's logic.

One of the challenges of taking notes is also being able to stay focused for the duration of the meeting. For long meetings, if possible, set a break every 2 hours: go for a walk for a few minutes, leave your computer screen to rest your eyes, and drink a glass of water… or a coffee!

After: Don't lose the momentum

  • Same-day tips: reread the notes to complete the blanks, make corrections, and rewrite difficult-to-read passages
  • Next day task: highlight the plan and structure the text to give it meaning
  • Following week: work on the notes to obtain the desired report.

Very useful abbreviations

To help you with your note-taking, also think about abbreviations: whether you're making handwritten notes or typing on the computer, it's an easy way to save precious seconds. Below is an extract of our abbreviations.

You now have Acolad writers' tips for effective notes. But be sure not to forget the basics: have your computer charger (and a nearby socket), be seated comfortably, and put your phone on vibrate!

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