Dr. Judith M. Newman

Taking Notes

Being a "recording secretary" is an important role in a meeting and making sure you accurately record what the participants say and decide can be difficult. It is therefore important that you describe the main points of the discussion and any decision that was reached. It is also important that you understand your notes so that you can decipher them later.

Everybody has a different way of taking notes and there are a number of methods to choose from. Here are just a few:-

  • write down everything as it is said under headings just in case it is important – to do this effectively you need to know some version of shorthand
  • write a few lines for each heading which will to remind you of the discussion
  • use bullet points describing the conversation on a grid for each topic being discussed with columns for the subject, any comments and the decision reached

These three methods would look something like this:-

Type A

Topic Example
Minutes Are approved by Board
Matters Arising The Directors and Officers Liability Insurance was discussed and approved
Chair's Report Discussed converstation with City Councilors, raised questions about membership policy procedures

Committee Reports:

Shared discussion with Project Manager regarding meetings with Architect
Announced meeting with newcomer groups with YMCA...

Type B

Topic Example
Minutes OK
Matters Arising DOLI discussed and approved
Chair's Report conversation with Councilors, questions about membership recruitment
Committee Reports: Facilities meetings with Architect
meeting with newcomers @ YMCA

Type C

Topic Comments Decision
Minutes OK Approved
Minutes Arising DOLI discussed and approved
Chair's Report councilors: conversation mentioned
membership: questions about recruitment process
continue meeting with councilors

will review policy with Volunteer Recruitment and bring it to Board
Committee Reports: Facilities Architect
meetings announced with agenda
meeting at YMCA

When you first begin to take notes you may find that you adopt Type A but as you go along you will find you can streamline the process.