Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Note-Taking -- How do You do it?

How do you capture information? Are you a note taker? Do you draw pictures? What's your preferred way to ensure that you have captured the right take-aways from a meeting? I used to to work with someone who outlined every meeting. We could be having a 1:1, and his notes would read:

1. Catch up
1a Weekend conversations
i My weekend
ii Her weekend
1b Kid conversations
i Soccer game
ii Dance lessons
iii Preschool drama

It helped that this person had the most beautiful handwriting I've ever seen. Each of the post-meeting outlines could have been framed for posterity.

I'm not nearly so organized when it comes to meetings. I've learned that I retain information better if I link related thoughts on the page. So my notes tend to have lots of arrows, and small text where I'm expanding on a topic. It's fine for me, since I'm the only one who needs to read the notes, but would make it very difficult to share those notes with anyone else.

I'm always impressed by people who capture information visually. There's something about the way they reflect the meeting that shares the content, but also draws connections that may not have been explicitly stated. When I've participated in a meeting with a professional graphic facilitator, I always feel that the notes/drawing presented at the end of the session represents the best outcome of the meeting. Not only is the content captured, but the way it's depicted it brings a different level of understanding. David Sibbet from The Grove recently posted an interpretation that one of his consultants did of Obama's inauguration speech. It's a very different way to think about the speech, and I really liked it.

So, what are your best tips for capturing information? Sound off in the comments.

1 comment:

Mattathias said...

I use a combination of notes, a lexicon of categorical symbols and a column of metadata. I've wrapped this all up in a methodology you can find here: http://www.mightynotes.net - specifically geared toward business. check it out.