How to Take Notes in Meetings

Taking notes shows you’re attentive, helps you learn, and provides a reference after the meeting. Get-It-Done Guy has helpful tips on how to take great meeting notes. 

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #117

Meetings. I just love meetings. No, I don’t. I hate meetings. At modern meetings, people sit around with their laptops open, dutifully typing in everything that’s said. Although we love to believe the laptops are making us more efficient, I know in my case, it’s really just an excuse to have a screen between me and the rest of the shudder meeting.

Taking notes shows you’re attentive, helps you learn, and provides a reference after the meeting.

As far as what to take notes on, check out my episode Taking Killer Notes. Always make sure you note the to-do items, decisions, and follow-up issues that come up in meetings. There’s nothing more embarrassing than showing up at the Capitol with your Zombie army, insisting that the world bow to your demands, and discovering that someone (that would be you) forgot to hose down the Zombies and make them presentable. Quelle horreur!

How to Take Notes in Meetings

How you take notes makes a big difference. First of all, do take notes. Taking no notes makes the rest of us think you are too clueless to realize what’s important. Even if you have a perfect recall, take notes for our sake, so we feel more comfortable.

How to Take Notes in Meetings

Taking notes makes people think you’re being attentive. You may even want to be attentive. That means you’re aware of whatever’s going on. I was attentive when I had my first big infatuation. I noticed everything. They painted their pinky fingernail black. Was that to be trendy, or are they sending a message? Black is spelled B-L-A-C-K. The second letter is L, which stands for LOVE, which mean they do love me! Yay! Don’t laugh. You’ve been there. You know you have.

Take Notes on Paper, Not Laptops

You can’t be that attentive with a laptop between you and everyone else. Jot notes on paper, keeping your attention on the group. Typing into a computer saves retyping later, but it kills the human connection. I know you’re thinking “Who cares about the human connection?” but don’t be so hasty. Promotions come from having the right skills and good relationships with the decision makers. Relationships with other humans get you what you want in life. Besides, until your Zombie Army wins, you need humans to infiltrate your enemies without leaving a tell-tale trail of decaying body parts.

Taking notes on paper isn’t just good for connecting to others; it’s also good for you by yourself. Taking notes on paper and typing them in forces you to mentally review the meeting a second time, which boots both memory and understanding.

Summarize and Organize Notes Afterwards

Record your meeting summaries in a different color or draw a box around them so that you can easily find them months later.

Finish your notes by summarizing anything important that happened and put this summary at the end of your notes. For some meetings, the summary will be  very short.

Quick and dirty tip: Record your summaries in a different color or draw a box around them. That way you’ll be able to quickly find and scan just your meeting summaries six months from now when you’re frantically trying to find the notes where you decided to go with Zombies instead of killer robots.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.