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How to take good notes at your next seminar?

Taking notes during a seminar is essential to understanding of the topics discussed and the drafting a quality report. However, this does not mean faithfully transcribing the participants' interventions. Listening, filtering, summarizing: this exercise is not as simple as it seems. Let's take a closer look at the seven golden rules for intelligent note-taking.

I/ Work before the meeting

Just as you wouldn't go to the movies without knowing what movie will be shown, you can't walk into a conference room without knowing what topics will be covered. Read the agenda carefully of the meeting or program of activities upon receipt. Annotate the first ideas and questions that come to mind. Ask yourself about your understanding of the topics discussed and research them if necessary. Ask yourself who you will be reporting to at the end of the seminar and, most importantly, what is expected of you.

II/ Prepare your material

On the big day, don't come with your hands in your pockets. This is a common mistake that can be very damaging to your image. The pad, the agenda and the pen are, of course, de rigueur. You can also opt for a mini PCvery practical for structure your notes and optimize proofreading. Take a few sheets of paper and a pen with you in case your computer crashes or your battery dies.

III/ Be a good listener

Stay focused and attentive during the entire seminar. Remember that this is a long-distance race, so you must manage your mental effort properly. Knowing how to listen also means knowing how to process the words of your interlocutor without making personal judgments. Whether you agree or disagree with what is said, you must demonstrate empathy and understand the thinking of others.

IV/ Choose quality over quantity

Trying to write down everything that is said is a useless and doomed enterprise. A lot of information is superfluous and it is impossible to transcribe everything.
Select the main elements, which will be included in your report: issues, key insights, dates and key figures, new objectives, upcoming events, tasks to be carried out, decisions to rememberDistinguish between the important and the unimportant from the time you take notes will make it easier to proofread and prepare your report.

V/ Create your own language

Note-taking is an exercise that requires a certain speed. This is why the use of abbreviations is an essential prerequisite. Eliminate superfluous articles and wordslink your ideas with arrows and integrate bulleted lists.

VI/ Structure your notes or create an outline

Avoid spreading your notes all over the paper. Prioritize them by inserting headings and subheadings, if possible. To do this, use the agenda or the speaker's introduction. If you have a PC, creating a canvas will make your note-taking much easier. For example, you can title your columns "Theme", "Key words", "Main idea", "Secondary ideas"...

VII/ Review your notes within 24 hours

Preferably, Review your notes and write your report within 24 hours following the seminar, when all the issues covered are still fresh in your mind.


To optimize the preparation of your next conference,

discover our tips to stay focused during your meetings.