How to take notes in the modern workplace

From pen and paper to digital recorders, we look at the best ways to make notes in meetings

With the rise of digital presentations and video conferencing, the art of taking notes in meetings is dying. However, it can be a vital tool in helping you to remember key points and retain information.

We take a look at some of the best ways to get the info down.

People Looking at a Piece of Paper and Smiling as They Work

Pen and paper
While this may seem old fashioned, taking notes by hand is still seen as one of the most effective ways of retaining information in a meeting. A study by the Association for Psychological Science found that people who wrote their notes with pad and pen performed better than those who used a laptop.

This is partly to do with how we take notes in each case. When we write, we select key phrases or ideas, whereas when we type we tend to auto-type and take down notes verbatim. Essentially, writing makes us analyse what is being said as we go, while typist only listen.

Make sure you type the notes up afterwards, expanding on points if you need to so they make sense if you refer back to them at a later date.

As discovered in the above example, knowledge retention is improved when taking notes by hand but those who used laptops recorded more information on the page. This means that when you get back to your desk, you can revise the notes and analyse them further. You can also add things like graphs, images etc in the meeting, embellishing your notes and making them more useful.

On the downside, laptops can causes distractions such as responding to emails, browsing websites and even the sound of typing can annoy other people.

Birdseye view of a Meeting

Tablets are becoming more common in the workplace thanks to their adaptability and the variety of apps available for businesses. By using a stylus and note taking apps, you can make in-depth notes by hand while also having the ability to include things only a laptop could previously supply like charts and photos.

Not only that but there are apps to help you organise and sort notes, add meeting contacts to your notes, email them and more – something you can’t do with a simple pen and pad.

On the downside, the act of writing with a stylus on a touchscreen is not yet the same as pen on pad and many find it difficult.

Voice recorder
As long as you’ve got permission from the company or whoever is holding the meeting, you could opt to record your meeting – whether it’s through a Dictaphone or app. This frees your hands up to take additional notes, search the internet or simply to listen more carefully and respond to what is being said.

It is important that the recordings are played back and annotated after, otherwise they become pointless.

For the tech savvy, there are a number of gadgets available to help you take notes.

The Boogie Board Sync is a pad that connects to your computer or tablet and provides a writing-like experience for taking digital notes. Livescribe offers smartpens that record your notes as you take them instantly transferring them to your computer screen. Finally, there are a number of apps that allow you to take photos of documents and transform them into jpgs or pdfs.


Posted by Ashleigh Sharp

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