The value of notes can not be under emphasized. While facilitating a session with a customer, the discussion typically contains a large amount of useful data that needs to be recorded. Although we would like to think that our brains are infallible pinnacles of data retention, the reality is that sometimes a fact or two will rudely vacate without notice. It can be frustrating for the customer when he must repeat information which he already divulged, so good notes are crucial.
First, good notes are clear, concise, complete, communicable, and cataloged. Comparatively, good notes are not convoluted, confusing, crude, cryptic, nor a cluster funk. Starting with the basics, one option is the tried and true pen and paper. A method of holding multiple pages together, like a notepad, is beneficial. Data entry is only limited to the ink in the pen. Read and write times are limited by the user, and there are no connectivity issues. The drawback, however, is communicating the notes is tedious, as they must often be transcribed. The physical space requirement can also grow large, and searching through a growing stack of pages can get daunting.
Taking a step in the write direction (pun intended), the Livescribe pens pack a lot of functionality into a familiar device. The pens use real ink to write on special paper that records the image of what you are writing. They also have electronic storage built in to store audio recordings. The recording syncs with the words that are written in the notebook, so you can simply use the pen to press a word to have the audio played from that point. Transferring the recordings to a computer is automated once the pen is docked, and there are quick options to share the notes. It is immensely helpful to preserve the entire meeting, but if you write a lot, it could be costly to buy more Livescribe paper.
A third option is Microsoft OneNote. You can record any type of data under the sun; whether it’s text, spreadsheets, graphs, drawings, or even audio, OneNote can capture it. Tight integration with other Office products makes housekeeping a breeze. It is easy to connect notes from the meeting invitation in Outlook and sync them to a project SharePoint site. Laptop battery life has eclipsed the duration of even grueling meeting durations, so power supply isn’t an issue. All notes can be quickly searched to find information instantly, and multiple people can collaborate on notebooks. However, there is a caveat to all of these features. If you want to capture every single word of a meeting, you could either be keyboard cowboy or record the audio, but not both. On some laptops, the microphone is positioned too close to the keyboard to avoid picking up the clicking of keys being feverishly pressed. If a separate microphone is used, it will solve the problem and even line up the audio by each new line in the notes.
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive review of notetaking tools. There are many others that will produce good notes, and as technology continues to improve, it will be even easier to communicate information.