Notes in Client Meetings: A Guide for Creative Businesses

Meetings are crucial when treating clients; they’re usually the space for deeper communication with them and avoiding a pile of messages on Slack. But at the same time, having them face on camera makes us struggle to take notes in client meetings without missing out on the conversation. In this blog, we give you tips on taking better meeting notes during client calls.

Why Take Notes in Client Meetings?

Even though you may pay close attention to what your client is saying and requesting during a meeting, studies show that we lose around 40% of the information we’ve heard within 24 hours without reinforcement. Nearly all of the conversation is lost within a week. Reviewing notes increases the likelihood of retaining more information you heard on the call.

Additionally, note-taking is helpful if you share accounts or projects with colleagues. Sharing your notes about the meeting can keep everyone informed of any information transfers and help your creative business’s organizational practices. You’ll want to ensure you have one source of truth for your notes so you and your colleagues are always on the same page.

Pre-Meeting Preparation

Taking notes before the meeting to get organized and prepare any thoughts and ideas you have is crucial. You’ll better understand what the meeting will cover and be more productive once it starts. As the old saying goes, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” Being unprepared is unhelpful and frustrating for others in the meeting, limiting connection and hindering progress.

If you’re the team leader or leading the meeting, help your team prepare by sharing an agenda beforehand, with enough time for attendees to review. Facilitators should also take pre-meeting notes to clarify objectives and talking points. You can base this off the meeting agenda items to provide structure or jot down some early ideas of the topics planned for your next meeting.

Standardize Your Note-Taking Format

Team members shouldn’t have to adjust to new formats and decode the meeting notes if they miss the daily sync. Consider using templates to standardize the format of your meeting notes to ensure that your records follow a familiar format over more extended periods.

Engage in Collaborative Note-Taking

While having a dedicated note-taker can help team members focus on the meeting at hand, collaborative note-taking can be a great way to keep meeting participants engaged. Create a shared document or canvas where teams can add sticky notes and important points about the meeting that can be referenced anytime after.

This crowd-sourced approach relieves the pressure on one person to capture all the most critical information and increases the likelihood that the whole team will capture all the most important notes.

Summarize Effectively by Highlighting Takeaways

Good meeting notes should balance a basic summary of the meeting and a word-for-word, written record of what happened. They should be written in a way that helps you record your insights, absorb information, and reflect on ideas. With the Cornell Note-taking method, for example, you divide the page into three sections and then record the following:

  • Notes from the meeting
  • Questions, takeaways, and insights
  • A summary of the meeting

This makes it easier to review and remember pertinent information after the meeting. Cornell Notes is an excellent method for linear learners.

Mind mapping is another method that can spur creativity and help you connect ideas and themes across various topics. It’s a visual technique that features main themes or ideas at the centre, with supporting ideas branching out. It tends to be a good option for non-linear learners. Mind maps can help collect takeaways from multiple meetings to see how different topics relate and which themes pop up repeatedly.

Regardless of your specific method, find a way to record your takeaways and questions. Focus on what’s meaningful instead of writing down everything a presenter or your team members say so you don’t forget the essentials once the meeting ends.

Include Relevant Context

Be sure to include context to notes, decisions, and action items so readers understand their reasoning. Are there projects you can reference and link to? How about a question posed in Slack that gets discussed? Clarify any abbreviations, short-hands, or acronyms so team members understand the notes without reaching out and clarifying. Include extra information where it’s relevant or add a section dedicated to appropriate resources so team members who missed the meeting don’t miss out on important information.

Turn Your Notes into Action Items

Practical meeting notes don’t just help you keep a record of the team’s discussions—they spur action. Without clear action items, your meetings are likely to be ineffective. End every meeting by noting clear action items and your role in accomplishing them. Be specific—write down the next step, how it’ll be done, who’s responsible for carrying it out, and the desired due date for each action item.

An action item could be as simple as following up with a colleague to get the data you need or sending out a memo to clarify something many team members had questions about. When crafting action items, consider your key takeaways from the meeting and what your team wants to accomplish.

Ensure you leave the meeting clearly, understanding what needs to be done next and how you’ll do it. Share your notes with all the stakeholders to record your collaboration and remind you of the next steps.

Use Your Notes in Retrospectives

So, you’ve captured the key points, summarized and analyzed your notes, and created action items. Then what happened? How did those action items translate into real-world outcomes?

If you never look back at where you started, making sense of where you ended up will be impossible. That’s why having a shared space where every collaborator is empowered to contribute is influential for real-time and asynchronous connection and for creating repeatable processes that scale into long-term success.

In conclusion, taking practical notes in client meetings is crucial for retaining information, fostering collaboration, and ensuring actionable outcomes. By preparing beforehand, standardizing your note-taking format, engaging your team, summarizing effectively, including relevant context, turning notes into action items, and using your notes in retrospectives, you can enhance your meeting productivity and overall client satisfaction.

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