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

Don’t Organize Notes During Meetings

By the same token, don’t try to organize your notes during meetings. Just record the date, time, and meeting title, engage your eyes and ears, and jot down the to-dos, decisions, and information that needs to be captured. When you type in your notes later, that’s when you organize. Group action items together, decisions together, and reference information together. Now you can easily refer to the meeting’s key outcomes.

When Bernice returns from vacation, bring her up to speed quickly by reading the three categories. “Your action item is cleaning out the Zombie holding pens. Lucky you. We decided our mascot will be Melvin’s pet boa constrictor, to strike fear into the hearts of our enemies. And our survey says 20% of our Zombies are demanding 400-thread count sheets.” Actions, decisions, and reference information. There’s no need to point out that the lump inside Melvin’s boa constrictor has a profile disturbingly similar to Bernice’s missing Pekinese “Pookie.”

Use Technology

Using technology (I just love technology!), you can buy special pens and paper that record your notes as an image, import them into your computer, and recognize your handwriting so you can search your notes. LiveScribe makes a pen that uses special paper covered with teeny dots that tell your pen where it is on the page. The pen records the page image! It’s the best of digital entry with the human connection of real pen and paper. Plus, at the end of a long day, you can stare really closely at the dots and find shapes like a duckey, or a horsey, or Boticelli’s Stoning of Saint Stephen.

File For Future Retrieval

When you take notes you’ll need again, file them electronically or on paper. Name the file MEETING, hyphen, then the name of the meeting and the date. If you’re filing electronically in a tool that lets you add tags (remember when I told you how helpful tags are?), tag the notes with the attendee names, topics discussed, and decisions made, so you can find the notes by searching for those tags. If you are capturing your notes into an image, check out Evernote.com, which lets you store images and then indexes them by the words that appear in the image. I don’t know how they do it; I think it’s magic. 

I hope you were taking notes as you listened. Use a pencil and paper so your attention stays in the room, not in your lap. Record a summary at the end of the meeting. If you need your notes electronically, type them in. Review as you type, and group the to-dos, decisions, and reference information so it’s easy to view at a glance. Consider using fun technology to capture hand-written notes electronically, and file everything labeled and tagged in your filing system.


https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/productivity/learning/leave-your-laptop-at-home-taking-notes-by-hand-is-better  (link http://getitdone.quickanddirtytips.com/productivity/organization/taking-killer-notes-that-keep-you-on-top-of-your-game ) - My “Taking Killer Notes” episode
http://www.evernote.com - A service where you can store your digital images
http://www.LiveScribe.com - An electronic pen that takes note digitally

Notepad image from Shutterstock


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.