The ability to take good notes represents a key task for any administrative assistant. The information you take down becomes the permanent record for that meeting. A detailed and accurate account of the event allows everyone on the team to stay up–to–date. It also creates a useful reference point for developing long-term projects.
But taking good notes can present a complex task. It requires organization, concentration, and quick thinking. Still, there are some things you can do to make the process go more smoothly. Here are some tips for taking better notes as an administrative assistant:
Prepare Ahead of Time
You will know some of the details of a meeting ahead of time. Take advantage of this information. Have notes already prepared on who will attend the meeting and the basic outline of what is to be discussed. Also, gather any materials that will be used during the discussions, things like hardcopy handouts or PowerPoint decks. This prep will give you the context you need to take better notes.
The information you gather prior to the meeting will help you recognize the main points. You can focus on the details that are important, making sure you document the key information.
Have a Process
Have a structure with predetermined shortcuts in mind when you go to take notes. This can be formal shorthand, some other note–taking process, or a procedure of your own design. Having this framework will allow you to keep up with the discussion as it proceeds. It will also make it easier to read your notes later.
Keep Track of Any Questions You Have
If you get confused or don’t understand a particular point, make a note in the margins. This way, you’ll know to go back later and get follow–up information. You can ask questions after the meeting to gather the needed context, or research it on your own so you know how it fits into the broader discussion.
Make Sure You Can Understand Your Notes
Taking notes is only the first step in the process. You also have to understand what you’ve documented. If your handwriting is illegible, or your typing method leads to significant errors, you might have trouble deciphering the information later. Similarly, if you use too many shortcuts without a formal plan, you might get confused about what you were referring to in the notes.
Keep things organized and straightforward. That way, you’ll have no trouble recapturing the details of the meeting.
Type Out a “Clean” Copy ASAP
The notes you take in the moment provide a guide. However, they won’t represent the final document. You need to translate your notes into a clean copy that you and others can refer to down the line. Recopy your notes as soon after the meeting as possible. This way, you will have details in mind, and the information will be fresh in your head.
Keep Your Notes for Future Reference
When you have created a formal version of your notes, store a copy for later. You never know when someone will want to refer to the information processed during the meeting. Have an organized filing system, so you can locate the notes again. Use logical reference points to help you organize things, like dates, people involved, and the subject of the meeting.
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Having the right skills, like taking excellent notes, makes you a dynamite administrative system. However, you still need to find the right position in order to flourish. A top-flight staffing firm, like SmartTalent, can put you in the perfect position.
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