Taking notes effectively at business meetings is a skill that takes time to master. And if you are a player in the corporate or business world, you will no doubt have to master this skill because you will need to attend business meetings where note taking is very important.

Though you might have a secretary or assistant who takes business meeting notes for you, they won’t be around to do the same when you attend an important business conference abroad or an impromptu meeting with a client or supplier outside of the office.

Even if you have taken notes for your own personal use on several occasions, that doesn’t mean you will be good at taking business meeting notes. This is because taking notes at business meetings requires a different set of skills altogether. For example, in personal notes, you are free to use abbreviations and shorthand, or even drawings that only you can interpret. Your own personal notes don’t have to follow a pattern or show any consideration for another reader. And they don’t have to be neat because they for your use only.

However, business meeting notes serve a completely different purpose because they are written for others, and they serve as historical documents that mark decisions and actions taken or discussed at a business meeting. Should you need to take notes at a business meeting; the following tips will help you take them effectively.

10 Effective Note Taking Strategies and Tips for Business Meetings

1. Use pen and paper

You might want to argue that we are now in the world of tablets, notebooks, and PDAs. But the truth is that using pen and paper is less intrusive, it makes it easier for you to maintain eye contact with the person talking. Aside creating a wall between you and the person talking, digital devices make it look like you are working on something else or chatting with someone even if you are not. And it’s even easier to get distracted while using these devices.

2. Learn and use shorthand

No, shorthand is not for just secretaries and journalists. It’s still relevant for taking notes at business meetings, especially when you are listening to a speaker who talks fast. Learning shorthand isn’t as difficult at you might think. Just search the web for helpful and relevant resources and you can master it within a couple a few months.

If you don’t have the time to learn shorthand, you can formulate your own abbreviations and mnemonics that you will use while taking business meeting notes. You are free to represent anything the way you like; just make sure it makes sense to you.

3. Just highlight key points

You will get bored with note taking if you are trying to get down everything. When taking notes at a business meeting, listen to everything, but write down only the important and relevant things. It goes without saying, but you don’t have to write down a short joke cracked during the meeting.

  1. Prepare a written report immediately after the meeting

As stated earlier, a business note serves as a historical document and reference—but only when it has been developed into a comprehensive piece of writing. You sure can’t expect the company to keep the roughly written sheet you scribbled on during the meeting. You need to prepare a neatly written report that is more presentable and understandable to any reader.

Try to prepare the report immediately after the meeting while everything is still fresh in your mind. And even if you’re not asked to submit a formal report, you can use the document for your personal archive or as proof in case a conflict arises about the discussion.

  1. Listen with care

Once a business meeting starts, your double role of listening and note taking starts. Though having to do both together is difficult and seemingly unrealistic, if you are to be better at one, it should be at listening. If you are able to listen to every important detail without missing out any, you can always include whatever you missed writing at a later time.

  1. Know the difference between different types of statements

During a business meeting, various types of statements are used by participants while discussing. These include opinions, facts, questions, suggestions, guesses, questions, and so on. You need to know how to figure each of these types of statements to avoid mixing things up. You know it can be confusing when you report a suggestion as a fact.

  1. Keep it short and simple

Regardless of how you write down what transpires during a meeting, you need to make your final report clear enough for the benefit of others. To that end, ensure that your language is understandable and objective throughout.

  1. Record everything about the meeting

When taking notes at a business meeting, don’t forget to add every necessary detail about the meeting; aside the discussions. These include the type of meeting (whether planned or emergency), the purpose of the meeting, the date and time of the meeting, the name of the person who called or chaired the meeting, the names of those in attendance, and any information regarding the next meeting. These details make your meeting notes complete. You don’t want people to start asking who said what or what date was the meeting held.

9. Be exact-: You must be absolutely accurate in presenting the details of a business meeting, since it will become an approved official document.

10. Proofread carefully

Even though your goal is to provide accurate information about a business meeting, having your note free of typographical, grammatical, and spelling errors is also very important. If your notes are filled with these errors, you will blow your credibility as a reliable information provider.

Ajaero Tony Martins