Consulting 101: Taking Notes

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Throughout my “formative” years teachers would write notes on the board for students to furiously copy down. We would then be tested on said notes every few weeks. Then in college students were expected to copy down the important pieces of information that spewed for teachers like alcohol from sorority girls on spring break.

Jotting down important notes during lessons was never my strong suit. I got through school by paying attention during lectures and asking questions when I had trouble understanding. I felt I learned more by listening and thinking than by having my nose stuck in a 3-ring during class. I may not have graduated from Harvard or Yale but I did manage to graduate with honors and land a job.

As an entry level analyst, you’re expected to take meeting notes while the big boy/girl consultants ask the questions and do the thinking. This is where I struggle in my current role but thankfully this project is flexible enough for it to be ok. I’ll be honest: my meeting minutes are subpar. It’s not because I’m off checking Facebook or writing blog posts (although…), I’m too intrigued in the conversations and issues of the meeting to get bogged down in taking notes. This is not to say that those who are great note takers don’t care about that topics at hand. I don’t learn that way and it’s a tough.

This is an area that needs improvement. To be able to send out key decisions made and assign follow up tasks after a meeting brings another level of skill and professionalism to the table. It’s little things like this that get you noticed and instill confidence in your team and client that you know what you are doing. As I grow in the working world, taking better notes is a skill I look to command.

What areas are you working to improve?

P.S. When I do take notes, it’s in OneNote. What a dream of an application for consultants.

One comment Add yours
  1. I am not good at note taking either, I generally try to capture key words from the conversation and names, and then post meeting will spend about 30 minutes reviewing the discussion in my head and breaking the whole meeting out into bullet points.

    Note taking is a pain, but it is also important to have written documentation of action items before the memory fades.

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