How to Take Effective Meeting Notes

Using a note taking method to capture meeting notes can lead to more positive outcomes. These range from better retention and comprehension to building a set of resources to refer back to. To help explain more, in this post we’ll share how to take meeting notes and include a meeting notes template to consider using.

Why Take Meeting Notes?

Most settings–from workplaces to education–expect people to attend meetings. But when they don’t use effective note-taking methods they risk overlooking key details or undermining the value of the meeting. This can often lead to hindered progress and unwanted outcomes. 

To avoid this, selecting a note-taking method from across a range of options is a sensible move. With the most appropriate note-taking structure at hand, you’ll stay organised and on track. Plus there is a wide range of other benefits to consider: 

  • Better accuracy: Taking meeting notes allows participants to record all relevant details and key action points. This often leads to better and more positive outcomes.  
  • Improves comprehension: Using a strong meeting note method can improve comprehension and help with making connections between different ideas. 
  • Boosts memory retention: Using encoding practices such as synonyms can boost retention through the Generation Effect and make it easier to recall key points.  
  • Encourages active listening: To record all details correctly, note-takers must use effective and active listening skills. Otherwise, they may overlook important information.  

Taking Meeting Notes vs Meeting Minutes

So what’s the difference between meeting notes and meeting minutes? Neither is better or worse but rather each one is more suitable for certain situations. For instance, meeting notes are appropriate for more informal ways of capturing the essence of a meeting. In these cases, note-takers can use a variety of strategies that can help to capture key points. In most cases, meeting minutes are more appropriate for structured and formal settings. And they’re useful for documenting key business information. 

In summary, meeting minutes are appropriate for more formal events, board meetings, and legal settings. Meeting notes are more relevant for projects and team or client meetings. 

How to Take Effective Meeting Notes

While there are many benefits on offer from taking meeting notes it’s important to find an appropriate note-taking method to rely on. Successful meetings need planning, and without a plan for taking notes, you may miss out on important details. So let’s take a closer look to help you find a method that works.   

Choose a note-taking method that works for you

Understanding how to take effective meeting notes starts with having a good understanding of your own needs and preferences. For instance, you may prefer structure or order in your work. Or perhaps you prefer visual aids for boosting memory and recall?  

Several different note-taking tools and methods can help. These include Cornell, Outlining, and Mapping. Some other to consider include: 

  • Charting Method: This takes a categorisation approach using columns. They’re headed up with categories which help to draw out information into specific clusters and categories. This approach is most useful for tracking conversations.
  • Sentence Method: Write each new thought, fact, or topic on a separate numbered line. This approach is more organised than just writing paragraphs and helps with fitting related points together. 

Each of these methods offers a simple pen-and-paper approach. With power in simplicity, each one can help get the most out of meetings using a formal and structured approach.  

Use a Meeting Notes Template

For a simple view of how to take effective meeting notes, you might like to use the following meeting notes template. With this template, you should find it easier to track key points and understand the details behind each action you should take forward. 

Date and Time: 

Location: 

Attendees: 

Meeting objectives: 

Discussion topics: 

Item Delegates Key points discussed  Actions to take forward
Use bullet points to summarise

Assign a Specific Note-Taker for the Meeting

Knowing how to take effective meeting notes includes thinking about how to organise yourself during the meeting. For example, attempting to take meeting notes while leading a conversation is not likely to get good results. Instead, find someone to assign the role of note-taker to. There may be someone in the group with less involvement in the meeting discussion. If so, consider asking them to take up note-taking duties so you can focus on the meeting discussion. This can ensure someone is actively listening to the conversation and can focus on making sure they note down all key points with accuracy.  

Transcribe Conversations With Recording Software

A very effective way to take meeting notes is to get a transcription of the meeting via recording software. Transcription software allows users to record every word with a verbatim transcription. This provides the ultimate resource to refer back to for clarification and to ensure accuracy. 

With a low word error rate of 3%, Caption.Ed is highly accurate for meeting transcriptions. It’s available via desktop and mobile app and easy to use across all types of requirements. Caption.Ed is so much more than a transcription tool, but it is an easy way to generate the notes you need.  

Share Your Screen Whilst Note-Taking

Sharing your screen with meeting members is a smart way to boost inclusion. By using live meeting notes as a form of captioning, you can improve engagement. In other words, when others can read the notes you’re making they’re more likely to pay attention to the discussion. And if meeting members find it hard to hear other meeting attendees, this can offer a very effective way to boost productivity and engagement. 

Share Your Notes After the Meeting

By sharing notes after the meeting, you give all attendees clarity on the discussion and agreed action points. This also allows you to receive feedback and any pointers on the notes that can help others understand what happens next. And don’t forget, you’ll find the notes useful to refer to in any subsequent meetings or for clarifying any missed or misunderstood points from the last meeting. 

How to Organise Meeting Notes

Once your meeting is over, it’s a good idea to get your house in order. In other words, by sensibly organising your meeting notes you’ll make it easier to review all discussion and action points. 

One way to do this is by using a calendar event to save all relevant meeting notes and agendas to. This can make it easier to send all relevant documentation to participants in one go. By accepting the calendar event, they should be able to open up the event tab and find all the relevant information.

Another smart idea is to save all relevant meeting notes and documentation into dated folders. Doing so can help to stay organised and on track, building up a bank of meeting notes relevant to each meeting in chronological order.