Tips and Tricks for Effective Note Taking

As a presenter, there is nothing more gratifying than knowing an audience member has taken something away from your presentation. At the same time, it is equally gratifying to be the one who has learned something. After all, conferences and lectures can sometimes feel like a huge waste of time and money. Though they are intended to be an investment in your knowledge and skills, they don’t always turn out that way. And though it’s sometimes the fault of the speaker, more often than not, the fact that you didn’t learn much has more to do with you than the speaker. You might feel like you have a world-class memory but if you failed to take notes during the presentation there’s a high probability that you will forget something important. The fact is, effective note taking is a critical skill because it helps you to identify important concepts and it also provides a history of things you learned. Consider the following tips and tricks for effective note taking during your next presentation. 

Pay Attention to Cues

Oftentimes presenters will give cues to let you know that information is important. They might put it in bold on the PowerPoint or they might designate a chart to display important information.  Sometimes they even begin their sentence by saying something like, “This is a really important point…” Furthermore, presenters might use voice inflection when something is important. You might also notice the speaker repeating points that they want you to remember. 

Don’t Write Everything

If you spend the entire time writing, you won’t be able to effectively listen to the presentation. It’s not necessary to write down everything. Rather, just jot down the main points. Remember to leave a little space between each point and you can always go back and fill in supporting details. 

Avoid Full Sentences

It’s extremely difficult to process what the speaker is saying if you are constantly playing catch up with every word they are saying. Note taking is most effective when coupled with listening so don’t waste time writing in complete sentences. It is better to write short sentences and use abbreviations whenever possible. 

Add Photos to Your Notes

Presentations can sometimes be intense and packed with important information. You can save yourself the hassle of fervently writing every little thing by taking photos of the presenter’s slides. Not only will you have a perfect visual reference, but you will be able to spend more time actually listening to what the presenter is saying. This tip is especially helpful when charts and graphs are displayed. 

Jot Down Questions

The presenter might be throwing a lot of information your way and its inevitable that you will have a few questions along the way. Rather than interrupting the presentation, jot them down as they come to you and you can always go back and ask them at the end of the presentation. It’s always helpful to answer questions and clarify points as soon as the presentation is over while everything is still fresh in your mind. 

Consider Digital Notes

Some people love attending a presentation with a notebook in hand, but others might not love that old school method of writing everything down. There are several benefits to digital notes. For starters, many people can type faster than they can write so digital note taking can be more efficient. Furthermore, digital notes are better organized and can easily be saved and shared with others.