Taking notes may seem like common practice, but is it? Read more about how to avoid confusion with note-taking.

Leaders, have you ever had a meeting where, after a tough discourse, you left the meeting feeling there was progress – only to learn later that someone in the room had a different recollection?

I have.

That’s when I re-send that person “the notes.”

Notes can be your best defense. They help you keep your efforts from getting thwarted.

It’s challenging to bring leaders with different points of view together to make critical decisions. It happens when careful preparation before a meeting is combined with directed dialogue during the meeting. When the leaders get on the same page, it is an accomplishment and something to acknowledge (and sometimes even celebrate).

It’s also simply madness to not memorialize that hard work. When you don’t distribute notes, you often end up having that same discussion again…and again.

Get in the habit of documenting any discussion where you make decisions, identify items that need further work and, when possible, assign someone to a specific follow-up task.

Good Note-Taking Essentials

It’s as simple as this:

  • Categorize what’s important: Attendees, Key Decisions, Open Items and Next Steps.
  • Don’t overthink them. Write in clear short sentences. Use bullets.
  • Get them out promptly – within 24 hours.
  • Request review of notes by attendees — for accuracy and completeness.
  • Refer to them in future meetings.

Hallway Conversation

Sometimes decisions are made on the fly in the hall, over lunch or on the phone. That’s ok. It’s actually great.

Just use the same principles: document the discussion and send it out to confirm you heard the same thing.

Not Your Meeting?

When there are no notes from a meeting you attended and a decision was made that is critical to you, take action.

Send an email to all that were at the meeting. In it, summarize the decision and ask them to let you know if what you summarized is inaccurate or incomplete.

As others experience you, your meetings and your notes, you will have a better output. Your meeting participants will learn that in your meetings, progress is made.

They will show up, work hard, and feel good about their collective accomplishments.

Originally posted on LinkedIn.