In project management, meetings are not special occasions like in other fields but a regular thing. There are meetings with authorities, suppliers, clients, shareholders and team members to attend on top of the often hectic work schedule. It is easy to get confused or even forget what the last meeting was about unless you took some notes, which is (sort of) the point of this article. Now, before we even talk about the correct ways to write notes, let us have a reminder of why it’s important.
- Why You Should Write Notes in Meetings
Having some notes written before, during and after meeting with your team is advantageous in the following ways:
Notes Help You Remember
The human brain is not a computer hard disk or a tape recorder, and neither does it work like them. On the contrary, our brains, perhaps due to all the thinking we subject them to, are prone to forgetting things especially the minor details which make all the difference sometimes. When it comes to team meetings, you want to remember everything, and thus it makes sense to jot down all the key points of discussion. For some people, seeing the title or the keyword of a certain point can make them remember every little bit that was said about it.
Notes Provide Proof of Discussions
During a meeting, the notes taken by the Secretary or several independent people can be used in future to show proof of discussions and agreements. The official minutes, which are compiled by the Secretary or any other appointed person, are signed by one or two attendees and are proof that the meeting took place and outline all deliberations that ensued. In case of any arising conflicts, team members can always refer back to the minutes or their personal notes.
Taking Notes Improves Your Concentration
While in a meeting, it is easy to lose your focus and start thinking about a host of other unrelated things and, thereby, miss important titbits. To avoid that, you can train yourself to note down a speaker’s points as they discuss them, paying extra attention to the big words that they use. This way, your brain, ears, hands, and eyes will always have something to do, and your brain won’t have the opportunity to wander.
- Writing Notes to Prepare for Team Meetings
You will be able to contribute more to a meeting and similarly gain more from it by writing some relevant notes beforehand. Below are some six ways on how you can go about it effectively:
- Old School is Cool
In all other instances, freely use your laptop, phone or tablet to write stuff but in meetings, a good old-fashioned pen and paper will do. For one, it will be easier to write at high speed and read your notes at any time. Secondly, most of the people around you probably have their notebooks and pens out so you won’t look out of place. Taking a laptop to the boardroom when nobody else has theirs makes you look snobbish and unprofessional.
- Convenience Over Grammar Rules
Before and during a meeting, you may not have all the time to write well-structured, grammatically correct notes and that’s all good. For these occasions, develop your own method of writing that will allow you to write faster but still be able to read and understand whatever you’ve written. Using abbreviations, shortening names and words, and writing numbers as figures instead of words are some of the ways to speed up your writing.
- Go Through Past Minutes
When preparing your pre-meeting notes, take time to go through minutes of past team meetings. Unless the meeting that you’re preparing for is the first one for the particular project, there is always something that you can take from past meetings that would be relevant to the next one. Additionally, you might find that you had missed some important details in the last meeting that you needed to note to request for further clarification. Whatever the case, it’s always good to revisit past meetings as you prepare for others in the future.
- Back to the Future
After taking a trip down memory lane, you may then start actual preparations for the upcoming meeting by checking the proposed agenda. Typically, that is highlighted in the invitation email or letter or memo. If it’s not there, get in touch with the organizer and ask them for pointers on the planned topics of discussion or go to the company site and look for information there. On top of that, seek to know who will be attending the meeting, the speaker(s), when the session starts, how long it will take and what you need to carry. That will help you get mentally ready for the meeting and if you’re slated to speak, to prepare your presentation. Furthermore, analyzing the difficulties that you faced in the past will give you a clue on how to overcome similar challenges in the future.
- Have a General Outline Before the Meeting
Before stepping foot into the meeting room, write some headings under which different aspects of the meeting will fall. As you’re not sure how long your write-ups will be, leave generous space under every heading, about one or two pages. Examples of titles to use in your basic outline are:
- Date, Time and Location of the Meeting.
- The main topic of discussion.
- Other topics discussed.
- Issues agreed upon, members responsible for carrying out said issues and the deadlines.
- General resolution of the meeting.
- Next Meeting: Location, Time and Agenda.
Having a rough idea of what to look out for will keep you sharp throughout the meeting and might even earn you some brownie points if your boss is around!
- Summarize, Always!
This point applies across the board – whether you are writing notes for your personal use or the whole group. A few hours after every meeting, sit down and go through all the small notes that you took during the meeting. Use them as references when writing the report/minutes or summary, depending on your reasons for writing. While at it, remember to avoid using shorthand and elaborate on some points in the notes that may appear vague.
- In Summary
Most people know or have an idea of how to write short notes in meetings and seminars. However, only a few can do it correctly. We hope that this article has taught you something new about note-taking and that it will make you a better writer overall.
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Author Bio: Christina Battons is a web content expert from LA. Creative writer, she is able to connect various thoughts into a single theme. Christina loves to stay up to date on the latest content marketing trends, and her works have been published on various resources. Connect with Christina on Facebook.