In many organizations, the leader of the meeting must fill multiple roles. You probably created the agenda, are guiding the discussion, and also responsible for taking the notes.
Over the years I’ve developed some habits that help me fill both the meeting facilitator role and the note-taker role simultaneously.
- Before the meeting, I list out agenda topics with sub-questions that I want to ask. Sometimes I send this to the attendees, sometimes this is my personal reference for what needs to be accomplished. I leave space between each item so I can jot down notes next to my questions. (By the way, my meeting agenda and meeting notes templates are included in the Business Analyst Template Toolkit.)
- I’ve developed a bit of short-hand for capturing key items. For example, I use “AI” to call out an action item and “NR” to call out new requirements identified in the meeting. Other short-hand elements keep me focused on what was discussed in context of the original meeting purpose and the sidebars that might be issues that need to be followed up on outside the meeting.
- For intensive meetings, I block out time immediately following the meeting to type up notes. I find it nearly impossible to write everything down in the meeting itself without slowing the meeting to a bare crawl. But if I have time to type up my notes immediately after the discussion I can often remember things through stream of consciousness that I might forget the next day or even a few hours later.
- Throughout the meeting I summarize the outcome and use other active listening techniques to slow down the pace of the discussion and ensure everyone has a common understanding of what’s been discussed. Good meeting notes reflect a common understanding of all participants. Often what I thought I heard and what other participants heard are different stories entirely. Summarizing is a good practice that fills both the facilitator and the note-taker roles.
Trying to hold down multiple roles is not always the best situation, but you can make the best of it by incorporating some of these habits. These habits help me keep my sanity and at times prevent duplicate discussions, missed details, or a false sense of alignment.