How to Take Meeting Notes Based on Your Learning Style

Two meeting notes notepads in front of a colorful background

Get the most out of your meetings by taking effective meeting notes.

From weekly team meetings to one-on-ones and Zoom calls, it’s safe to say that meetings consume a large part of our work day. And not only are we being asked to sustain our focus for long periods of time, but we’re also somehow expected to absorb all the salient points, details, and action items. 

The good news is you don’t have to rely on your memory alone. By simply identifying your favorite learning style, you can improve your note taking strategy for meetings.  

Below are some common types of learning styles to help you find the best way to take meeting notes and retain new information. 

What’s your learning style? 

We all have our own preferred method for learning and note taking. Some of us might prefer to jot down notes, while others might learn best from visual aids like diagrams and charts. Keep reading below to find the learning style and note taking system that works for you.

You’re an “academic” learner 

You consider yourself a lifelong student. You love writing by hand and reviewing your notes. As an academic learner you probably prefer studying in private as opposed to studying in a group setting. 

How to take meeting notes as an academic learner

Review the agenda in advance. As an academic learner, you love to prepare and study. So you’ll definitely want to study the agenda beforehand. Underline any terms or jargon you don’t know and brush up on them before the meeting. By doing your prep work up top, you won’t feel like you’re playing catch up and scrambling to take notes during the meeting itself. 

Write your notes in a notebook. Rather than typing up your meeting notes on a laptop, make sure to record your meeting notes in a notebook. Studies have shown that you’re more likely to retain information when you handwrite your notes. Also, you won’t get distracted by what’s on your screen, and you can give your full attention to the meeting.

Write down key words and details. Rather than trying to record every single thing that’s discussed, focus on capturing relevant and key information. Key information can include: important deadlines and dates; action items that are assigned to you and/or your team; key stakeholders involved in your project, and the main headlines discussed in the meeting. 

You’re a visual learner

As a visual learner, you like to absorb and organize information with visual tools and aids like colorful highlighters, notebooks, mind maps, and more. You love any excuse to color code information. And you like to write down your ideas and reminders on post-it notes so that you can always keep your eye on them.

How to take meeting notes as a visual learner

Use visual shorthand. If you’re visually oriented, then it’s probably not the best use of your time to write down every single word. Instead, use visual shorthand to help you take meeting notes much more effectively. For example, abbreviate common words instead of writing out the entire word. Use initials for names. And use symbols to help organize your information. 

Common note-taking symbols include:

↑ increase, at the top

↓ decrease, bottom, down

= equals, equates to

≠ does not equal

→ connects to 

Mark up your notes. Underline important terms, dates, or action items. Use highlighters to denote important information. And use bullet points to help you visually structure your notes. Marking up your notes will help you absorb the information you’re taking in and will also come in handy later on when you’re reviewing your notes. Your eyes will naturally be drawn to whatever’s highlighted and underlined on the page, which will then allow you to easily glance at what’s essential. 

You’re an auditory learner

As an auditory learner you prefer learning by sound. You love listening to podcasts or audio books.  And you like to memorize information by reciting it outloud and repeating it until it sticks. 

How to take meeting notes as an auditory learner

Actively listen. As an auditory learner, you’ll want to spend the bulk of the meeting actively listening. As such, it’s important that you harness your focus so that you can give the meeting your full attention. Block off any possible distractions by turning off your phone and putting away your laptop. And when you do take notes, use a notebook or notepad so that you’re not tempted to check your email. 

Use bullet points. Whenever there’s a brief pause in the meeting, take a moment to jot down a few bullet points summarizing what you just heard. This will help you crystallize the information and allow you to refer back to it later to refresh your memory.

Record your notes and play it back. You can also use your phone’s voice memo app to record your notes and then play it back to yourself. The process of reciting your notes out loud and then hearing it played back will help it stick in your mind.

You’re a social learner 

As a social learner, you like to study in a group setting as opposed to studying solo. And you like bouncing information off of others because it helps make studying feel more dynamic and fun.

How to take meeting notes as a social learner 

Engage in the meeting. It might help you to ask questions when you need a point to be clarified or echo back what’s been said to help you retain information. But make sure that you’re not disrupting the meeting or preventing other people from speaking up. You can always wait until the end of the meeting to air your questions or concerns. 

Share your meeting notes. Another way to take meeting notes is to record them in a notebook and then type them up and circulate your notes to the other participants. Ask participants for their feedback and to air any thoughts on what was discussed. This way, you’ll have notes on hand while also cultivating the spirit of collaboration.

Debrief your coworker or team members. After the meeting, give a verbal debrief to coworkers or team members who were unable to attend. The practice of repeating what was discussed will help you clarify and retain the information in your own mind. 

Written by JiJi Lee
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