#047: The Lost Art of Note-Taking [Podcast]

I don’t recall anyone ever teaching me how to take notes. I didn’t learn it in school—not even college. Nor did I learn it on the job. It was something I had to pick up on my own.

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Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/shironosov

Maybe this is why so few people bother to take notes during meetings or presentations. No one has ever told them why it is important or how to do it. In this episode, I do both.

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So let’s start with why. Why is note-taking important? Here are five reasons you should take notes in every meeting your attend:

  1. Note-taking enables you to stay engaged.
  2. Note-taking provides a mechanism for capturing ideas, insights and questions.
  3. Note-taking helps you track assignments–yours and others.
  4. Note-taking provides a handy reference weeks and months later.
  5. Note-taking communicates the right things to the other attendees.

So, those are some reasons why note-taking is important. How, then, can you take better notes?

  1. Don’t get hung up on the tool.
  2. Record whatever you find interesting.
  3. Give your notes structure, even if the meeting or presenter is unstructured.
  4. Use symbols so you can quickly scan your notes later.
  5. Schedule time to review your notes.

The method you use is secondary to the importance of doing it. Feel free to experiment. The key thing is to be intentional.

Listener Questions

  1. Brandon Jones asked, “How can you effectively take notes and still be an active participant in the meeting?”
  2. Cary Branscum asked, “What is the one favorite pen or pencil you have that you most enjoy using?”
  3. Deborah Owen asked, “How can we teach students to take notes in a way that will ultimately be useful in the workplace?”
  4. Erick Rheam asked, “How do you capture ideas and follow-up items on podcasts and audiobooks?”
  5. Jared Easley asked, “What’s your advice on taking mental notes, when you don’t have a pen and taking notes on a cell phone is inappropriate?”
  6. Jeremy Jones asked, “Do you have a regular process or system for making sure the notes you take get into your life?”
  7. John Brubaker asked, “How do you get buy-in from people who work for you to become note-takers themselves without forcing it on them?”
  8. Jordan Collier asked, “Can you recommend a system for reviewing or reflecting on your notes?”
  9. Paula Gibson asked, “How can we encourage students, who are using digital devices, to take notes?”
  10. Scott McFaddin asked, “How can we use digital devices in a corporate setting without making people wonder if we are taking notes or doing something else?”
  11. Tom McFarland asked, “What do you do with your notes after you finish processing them?”
  12.  Victor H. Manzanilla asked, “How do you create a notes archive that is indexed and searchable?”

Special Announcements

  1. I am speaking at Dan Miller’s Innovate Conference on Friday, March 29th, here in Franklin, TN. I am speaking on the topic of “Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World” with special emphasis on finding your voice.

    Next week, April 2nd, I will be speaking at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusettes. It’s about a half hour north of Boston. I will be speaking on the topic of “Platform.” Previous speakers have included John C. Maxwell and Sir Ken Robinson.

    Finally, on April 26th, I will be speaking at the CEO Summit in Frisco, TX on the topic of “Platform.” I’ll be there with my friends Bob Goff and Francis Chan.

  2. Platform University continues to thrive! This week, I hosted our monthly Q&A call. Our members submitted hundreds of questions. My staff went through and collected the most often asked ones, and then we took several calls live.
  3. My next podcast will be on the topic of “The 5 Characteristics of Weak Leaders.” I’ll talk about how not to be that guy and what to do if you work for that guy.

    If you have a question on this subject, please leave me a voicemail message. This is a terrific way to cross-promote YOUR blog or website, because I will link to it, just like I did with the callers in this episode.

Episode Resources

In this episode I mentioned several resources, including:

Show Transcript

You can download a complete, word-for-word transcript of this episode here, courtesy of Ginger Schell, a professional transcriptionist, who handles all my transcription needs.

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