Conference Note Taking Tips so You Can Take Action

Filed under Organization

I just love going to as many conferences, lectures and furniture markets as I can each year so that I can stay on top of my designer game. I do my best to get organized before I go, execute my plan each day while I’m there and make sure I have my follow-up to-dos written down and scheduled before the wheels of my plane touch down at home.

You spent the money on the conference fees and travel to get you there. You took time away from your business and family. You want to make sure you’re getting—and remembering—all the learning experiences you can. I can help.

So, I used to be the one who wrote up copious notes at these events and “filed” them away to reference in the future. Sound familiar? My failing system had much to be desired and 9 times out of 10, I NEVER looked at my notes again.

Then, I got wiser. I found a way to take ACTION on those juicy tidbits I gleaned at conferences because I got better at note-taking! My Conference Notes template was the little bit of magic I needed to quickly jot down my key takeaways while listening to each speaker.

Here are a few of favorite tips to take great notes at conferences:

Set conference goals
We all have different objectives when heading into a conference, so make sure you are clear with what you want to achieve before you even go. This helps reduce confusion and distraction and streamlines your note-taking when you listen to speakers, because you will note those juicy tidbits that pertain specifically to the goal you wish to achieve.

Be present and attentive
If you are too wrapped up in furiously taking notes, you’re going to miss out. You do need to take notes, but don’t let it stop you from looking up at the presentation and being attentive to the speaker.

Why are you taking notes?
Is it only for your use or will you share it with a team? Are you wanting to just recall the info or do you plan to write a blog? Knowing your particular purpose for taking notes—no reason is a bad reason—will also help you focus your note-taking.

Key takeaways, not every word
Believe me, because I tried, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to jot down every word of a presentation. AND, it won’t help you remember it any better than just jotting down key ideas, quotes and takeaways. Focus on the meat of the message rather than every word.

Use your smartphone’s camera
Sometimes, you can capture content by snapping a quick picture of the presentation slide. Voila! No note-taking necessary, but you have the image to refer back to. It can also be helpful to record some of the audio.

Notebooks and pens
You can’t always rely on the conference center’s Wi-Fi. Depending on how many people are trying to use it at the same time, it can be dicey to connect. That’s just one of the reasons I always bring my Conference Notes template with me. We ALL know how fast our phone batteries die out during a conference and you don’t want to be stranded when your electronic devices fail you.

Conference Notes Break Down

Here’s how I break down my Conference Notes:

  • To Do ASAP!
    • There’s no time to waste because completing these to-dos are the way you will propel your business forward! Jump on these ideas!
  • To Consider
    • While maybe not an idea you want to implement IMMEDIATELY, this is where you jot down an idea that might work well in the future!
  • Great Ideas, Quotes and Thoughts
    • I get so inspired by quotes, so whenever I hear one that resonates, I HAVE TO write it down! You can always Google the exact quote later if it’s well-known, just record enough so you can search for it. If it’s a soundbite from a speaker on stage, try your best to write it all down.
    • Quotes are perfect for your Social Media calendar. Be sure to enter them into your calendar as #tweetables.
    • If any of the items that you jotted down need to be reviewed, WRITE them in your calendar now! Believe me, if you don’t do it now, it won’t get done!

Tips to Take Action!

  • Create a new Conference Notes page for every session you attend.
  • Put your airport and airplane time to good use and review your notes on the way back from your event.
  • Put your action items in your calendar.
  • Scan your notes into your computer when you get back and follow the same naming convention so you can easily find them later. Here’s how I like to name my files: Conference date/name/breakout session name. Consistency is key when you name these.

To help you make the most of your conference experience, download my Quick Reference Guide for Great Note Taking. There’s no better way to take out the overwhelm and keep you organized and focused!

Go from knowing to doing and don’t just stop at hearing a great idea! Make sure you act on them!

Click Here to Download the Conference Notes Template!



P.S. Feel free to share this with anyone you know who might need a little help to take ACTION!