As we talked about yesterday, taking notes about what is going on in a meeting or presentation can distract you from actually get the most out the meeting. Being in a meeting where you don´t get the maximum possible benefit is not very productive. With that in mind, here are four more alternate ways to get the information you need out of a meeting without having to spend all your time frantically scribbling notes:
1) Listen now, write later — If you have a decent memory, you may want to listen closely to, and participate in, the meeting at the time, and then take a few minutes after the meeting ends to scribble down the highlights of the meeting. The advantage of this approach is that the notes that you do eventually record are just the highlights and you don´t have to deal with all the details that seemed important at the time you heard them, but are ultimately useless.
2) Listen now, record later — If you are more of a talker than a writer, then you ca record your thoughts so that you can listen to them later on when you need to refer back to them. You can go the old school route and use tapes or mini-cassettes, or you can go high tech and record it right onto your computer. That way you can file your notes away where they need to be for easy access.
3) Get the notes — If you want the words of an author you don´t paraphrase the best you can. You get the book and read the words as they were intended to be read. In the same way, if someone is making a presentation it often makes sense to get the notes or slides that the person has used for the presentation. People will often provide these for you which makes it easy. If they don´t provide them, though, just ask for them. People will often be flattered that you want their material and will happily give it to you. You get the complete and accurate presentation of the ideas in question and you get to pay full attention as the presentation happens.
4) Ask the question — this is a big one — Do I really need notes? I don´t know about you, but I have binders and drawers full of notes that I laboriously scrawled and then never looked back on. If you are just making notes because you feel like you should or because everyone else is that´s not good enough. Figure out if and why you would need the notes and then go from there.