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Practical Advice to Reduce Notetaking Stress

We all schedule meetings on our calendars. But people who take notes at meetings need to schedule three events on theirs:

  1. Time before the meeting to review the agenda, reports, and presentations that attendees have shared in advance
  2. Time to attend the meeting
  3. Time to complete a final draft of the notes

When I taught the online course Meeting Notes Made Easy (now self-study), people were surprised to hear this advice. But they were quick to realize that taking time to prepare for the meeting makes the note-taking task less stressful and more successful. Setting aside time to finish the minutes helps get the job done without scrambling to type and distribute them just before the next meeting. 

I confess that I recently ignored my own practical advice when I took minutes for a group on a Sunday in September. Although I prepared for the meeting, when it ended on a sunny afternoon, I skipped the final writing task and did not add it to my calendar. Now I am pressed to get the notes done before the group meets again and feeling guilty about the delay.

Yes, adding three events to your calendar is a great way to take and complete notes confidently and calmly. I will be sure to follow my advice next time!

If you want to take better meeting notes and minutes, take the online self-study course Meeting Notes Made Easy.

Now let me sit down to finish those September minutes.

Syntax Training

Posted by Lynn Gaertner Johnson
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.

2 comments on “Practical Advice to Reduce Notetaking Stress”

  • I could relate to your story and have not followed my own advice at times as well. We sometimes know the right thing to do, but are not as quick to do it.

    Making time to draft the minutes is very important. I’m a visual person so just seeing it in my calendar helps me to do it, or if I can’t at the time I scheduled it, I move it, but it is always there as a reminder.

    Another bit of advice I need to follow is to draft the minutes within two hours of taking them, but if that is not possible, at least within a day and also to read the meeting handouts myself before the meeting. That is so helpful to know what will be discussed and very helpful when recording minutes.

    Thanks for the reminder and as usual, good advice.

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