Note-Taking Skills (With Examples And Steps To Improve Them)
Updated 30 September 2022
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Most employees take notes when recording important information, such as receiving instructions or briefs for a project. Effective note-taking abilities can improve your attention to detail and ensure you gather essential data while studying or writing. Understanding different skills for note-taking can help you learn techniques to categorise information based on the source, purpose and usage of the data you compile. In this article, we define note-taking skills, provide a few examples, discuss how to improve your skills, explain how to use these skills in your workplace and share some tips for highlighting them during the job application process.
What Are Note-Taking Skills?
Note-taking skills are techniques to write information which you can use for reference later conveniently whenever you require it. They include methods to label each section in an easy-to-understand style and use phrases for long sentences, helping you to note extensive details conveniently. Your ability to be concise and record keywords that allow you to remember key points are essential. If the content of your notes is relevant to the conversation's goal, it may guide you in responding effectively. You can create high-quality notes by using abbreviations for repetitive terms and highlighting critical points.
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Important Note-Taking Skills
Here are some examples of common skills for note-taking that can improve your efficiency:
Writing brief statements
It is best to write brief statements which explain larger concepts you may discuss in professional settings. This allows you to gather more information and avoid missing vital pointers. Short statements make it easier to refer to your notes and assess the information faster. For example, suppose your teammates are talking about methods to improve sales by attracting a niche audience.
In that case, you can use a heading like sales improvement and write a short phrase to describe the pointers which help promote sales in that market. Such documents might help your team as reference material for guidance on similar issues.
Highlighting key points
If you have a fast typing or writing speed, you might note excessive information and get confused while searching for the necessary pointers. In such cases, highlighting the most relevant details with a coloured pen or pencil can help. You can also highlight such information by drawing shapes such as circles or rectangles, each of which indicates different levels of priority. If you want to avoid making unnecessary signs, choose indentation for effective note-taking. Another trick is to underline key points or draw stars beside the line. Such signs help you recognise essential details and identify important topics.
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If you are researching on a brand, project or specific department, some terms may get repeated. You can save time by using abbreviations which you can remember easily. If you are forgetful, address the acronym in a corner for future reference.
For example, if you keep hearing terms and conditions, you might find it convenient to write TnCs, as it can help you take quick notes. As some people take notes to share with their team, creating a section for abbreviations at the start ensures comfortable navigation for all involved parties. Try to develop techniques which permit your notes to appear smaller with the help of abbreviations.
Removing unnecessary details
While it is important to take detailed notes, it is equally important to identify and delete any irrelevant details. This helps you create focus on important pointers that are likely to offer value to the reader. Good note-takers know what details are important for their purpose. They can develop notes containing only relevant information.
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Active listening and reading
Some note-taking processes may involve reading a presentation or comprehensive document to extract key pointers, whereas others may include listening to another person talk. Practising your listening skills might enable you to identify verbal cues and emotions, which can help you understand if there is an emphasis on a point. Try learning to recognise how people use voice modulation when narrating speeches. Similarly, being attentive to keywords and sentence structures denoting the importance of a section in any readable material might guide you in effectively noting valuable information.
Reviewing your notes
If you review your notes immediately after you take them, you can identify any sections with missing information. Resolve these doubts by asking the relevant authorities to repeat the pointers you missed, if possible. If they are busy, you can try recalling the conversation and filling in the empty sections yourself. Consider transferring these handwritten notes to a computer document to make it accessible and sharable at all times.
How To Improve Your Skills In Note-Taking
Following these steps can help you understand how to improve your ability to take notes in your workplace or on personal projects:
1. Ask questions
Gaining clarity on the notes you are writing helps improve your note-taking proficiency. Even if you are not writing all the information, ask questions which make it easier to remember the context of the notes when you review or study them. Once you understand the meaning and purpose of each key point, you can revise the notes more efficiently. If you attend meetings with a team, also request them to ask questions. This may help you identify insightful information which the narrator may have forgotten to mention.
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2. Practise note-taking for personal projects
Using techniques to write short-form statements decorated with headings, sub-headings and numbered lists helps create organised notes. Get into the habit of making mock notes for personal projects, such as your hobbies or skill development lessons. Once you get accustomed to practising, your note-taking methods can improve eventually and help you write notes effectively for professional requirements.
3. Create concise notes
Try to write in fewer words. If you are proficient in writing concise statements, it can help you study them and make your observations quicker. Another benefit of developing brief notes is the smaller size of the reference material. This ensures you can easily access relevant information by referring to key pointers whenever required.
4. Request reviews
Asking your team or manager about the quality and descriptiveness of your notes can improve your note-taking efficiency and precision. Request suggestions on the formatting style for your notes and take feedback on how the documents can offer more beneficial details. After receiving their recommendations, try applying what you learned and create iterations of the same document. You can use the approved format as a template for the next time you take notes.
Note-Taking Abilities In The Workplace
Here are some tips for applying note-taking abilities in the workplace:
Fact-checking: After writing your notes, quickly check any information that seems doubtful. If you identify any inconsistency in data or an incorrect statement, verify it with your team or the responsible narrator and correct it as required to avoid future complications.
Compiling notes of your teammates: If possible, you can request your teammates to share their notes and collect unique statements from everyone's material to create a more informative final document. Such collaboration ensures you effectively and successfully update the entire team on all the relevant details.
Taking notes during meetings: Familiarise yourself with taking notes during all discussions, be it with interns or teammates or managers. This develops a good impression of your habit of making notes to ensure attention to detail and work efficiency.
Ways To Highlight Your Skills In Note-Taking
Here are some ways you can highlight your note-taking proficiency during the hiring process:
On the resume
You can highlight your ability to take notes proficiently in the professional summary, work experience and the skills section of your resume. Use the first section to mention how your note-taking methods contribute to your desired job position. The work experience section lets you correlate your note-taking process to your achievements and responsibilities in your past jobs.
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In the cover letter
Cover letters allow you to elaborate on how your note-taking abilities helped emphasise key details for project briefs. Give examples of specific incidents that you influenced positively with your note-taking ability. For instance, write about how a highlighted section on your notes guided other departments to focus their efforts on an important topic of discussion.
During a job interview
Face-to-face interactions let you verbally explain your strengths and weaknesses while taking notes. You can explain how you plan to contribute to the company and its operations with your skills and improve your skill set to achieve professional growth. You can also inform the interviewer how your notes cleared confusion while working on a past project, which led to its timely delivery.
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