Blog
Better Meetings

How to use AI to take more effective meeting notes

In business, every moment counts. And with over two hours spent in meetings per week on average, some moments are wasted.

We all know the drill for meetings—we sit, we listen, and we scribble, all in the hopes of capturing every essential point. But are we truly maximizing our potential, or are we simply splitting our focus, one word at a time?

In this article, we’ll dive into the complexities of note-taking in meetings and how the age-old way of taking meeting minutes is no longer an effective option—not to mention the toll it takes on our cognitive abilities and how it robs us of the opportunity to engage fully in these critical discussions.

With the advent of technology, we're stepping into a new era where the onus of note-taking can be shifted from our already overloaded brains to the proficiency of AI.

So put down your pens, close your note templates, and get ready to truly participate in your meetings, because it's time for an upgrade.

Why we take meeting notes

So, why do we really take meeting notes? The answer is simple—to keep track of what's happening. But let's break it down a bit more:

  • Keeping records: Meeting notes are like a diary of what happened in the meeting. They tell us who said what, what decisions were made, and why. They clear up any confusion later on.

  • Enhancing memory: We can't remember everything, especially after a long meeting. Notes act like a memory booster, allowing us to go back and remember important points or tasks. Meeting notes help enhance your working memory, making you more productive overall.

  • Accountability: When we write down who is doing what, it helps everyone stay accountable. There's no confusion about who's responsible for what task and what the due dates are.

  • Sharing information: Not everyone can make it to every meeting. Meeting notes are a great way to share what happened with those who couldn't attend. They make sure everyone is on the same page and that all the agenda items were covered.

  • Tracking progress: By looking back at our notes over time, we can see how far we've come on a project. They show us what's working and what needs to change in terms of project management.

  • Preparing for the next meeting: When it's time for a follow-up meeting, our notes give us a quick reminder of what we discussed last time. This makes it easier to continue where we left off and create an effective meeting agenda for the follow-up meeting.

We take meeting notes to keep records, help our memory, ensure we follow through on tasks, summarize and share information, track progress, and make future meetings more efficient. They're a simple but powerful tool in making our work life smoother and more organized. The more agile your meetings are, and the more streamlined your meeting notes are, the more productive you will become.

Meeting minutes or notes: What's the difference?

You might have heard the terms “meeting minutes” and “meeting notes” used interchangeably. While they both aim to capture the essence of a meeting, there are distinct differences.

Meeting minutes are a more formal record of a meeting, often required for legal and official purposes. They typically include the names of attendees, key discussion points, decisions made, and action items agreed upon.

On the other hand, meeting notes are less formal and more flexible. They capture not only the essential points but also the nuances, ideas, and sometimes even the questions raised during the meeting. Meeting notes are designed to be more useful for the attendees, offering a comprehensive record of the discussion to refer back to.

The ins and out of taking manual meeting notes

The process of manual note-taking during meetings might seem straightforward at first glance. You just have to jot down the important points, right? Well, there's a bit more to it than that.

Manual note-taking is an art form that requires a certain degree of skill and focus. It goes beyond simply transcribing what's being said. Instead, it's about summarizing, synthesizing, and categorizing information on the fly.

Let's dive a bit deeper into what this involves:

  • Active listening: The first step in taking effective notes is being an active listener. This means fully engaging with the speaker, understanding their points, and identifying key pieces of information that need to be noted.

  • Discerning important information: Not all information is created equal. A good note-taker must be able to differentiate between critical points and less important details. This involves a constant process of evaluation and selection to ensure that your notes are concise yet comprehensive. Each stakeholder may have something to say, so decyphering the important points is key to more effective meeting notes.

  • Rapid transcription: Once you've identified a point worth noting, you need to be able to jot it down quickly. This is where shorthand, symbols, abbreviations, and other techniques come in handy. They allow you to transcribe points efficiently without losing track of the ongoing discussion.

  • Organization: A mass of jumbled notes isn't helpful. Good note-takers structure their notes, using headings, bullet points, numbering, and other organizational methods. This helps in quickly locating specific information later on.

  • Participation: Manual note-taking shouldn't prevent you from participating in the meeting. Striking a balance between taking notes and contributing to the discussion is a crucial aspect of this process.

  • Review and revision: After the meeting, reviewing and revising your notes ensure they're accurate and understandable. This is the time to fill in any gaps, clarify ambiguous points, and organize the notes for easy reference in the future.

Disadvantages of taking notes manually

While taking notes manually during meetings is a standard note-taking method, it's not without its drawbacks. Here's a closer look at some of these disadvantages:

Cognitive overload

Our brains are powerful, but they do have limits. Trying to listen, understand, select key points, and write them down all at once can be overwhelming. This can lead to cognitive overload, which is when our minds have too much to process at once. As a result, the quality of our notes can suffer, and we may miss important points.

Distraction from the discussion

When we're focused on taking notes, we can easily miss out on the conversation happening in the meeting. We might not catch the nuances of what's being said or have the mental bandwidth to contribute effectively to important discussions.

Incomplete notes

No matter how fast we write or type, we can't catch every detail. This is especially true in fast-paced or complex discussions. As a result, our notes may end up missing crucial information.

Inefficiency

Manual note-taking can be time-consuming. We have to spend time not only during the meeting but also afterward to review and organize our notes. This can take away from the time we could spend on other tasks.

Readability

Depending on your handwriting or typing speed, your notes might not always be easy to read or understand later on. This can make it difficult to refer back to them when you need to.

Dependence on the note-taker

Manual notes are usually taken by one person, and they're influenced by that person's understanding and interpretation. This can lead to bias or gaps in the notes if the note-taker misunderstands or overlooks something.

Taking automatic meeting notes

In a world where technology is rapidly reshaping the way we work, why should note-taking be any different? Automatic note-taking is an innovative solution that leverages the power of AI to transform our approach to capturing meeting discussions as a way to streamline and centralize team meetings in real time.

Here's how it changes the game:

  1. No more multitasking: With automatic note-taking, you no longer have to juggle listening, understanding, and writing all at once. The AI does the heavy lifting for you, allowing you to fully focus on the discussion and contribute more effectively with a more efficient workflow.

  2. Comprehensive capture: Automatic note-taking systems like Supernormal are designed to capture every detail from a discussion. This means you get a complete record of your meeting, without the gaps that can occur with manual note-taking.

  3. Efficiency and time-saving: Automatic note-taking saves you time both during and after the meeting. You don't have to spend time transcribing points or organizing your notes afterward. You can use that time for other tasks, making your workday more productive.

  4. Highly accessible and searchable: Automatic notes are digital and can be easily shared and accessed by all team members. Plus, they're searchable, so you can quickly find the information you need without having to wade through pages of handwritten or typed notes. You can also review the meeting agenda to quickly reference where the part of the discussion you’re looking for happened.

  5. Smart features: Automatic note-taking systems come with a host of smart features. For instance, Supernormal can automatically generate action items from your discussion. This makes it easier to keep track of takeaways, tasks, and follow-ups.

  6. Reduced bias: Because automatic note-taking is powered by AI, it's not influenced by human biases or misunderstandings. It captures the discussion as it happens, providing a more objective record of the meeting.

Examples of automatic meeting notes in the real world

Automatic note-taking isn't just a concept—it's already driving efficiency and productivity in various sectors. To illustrate, let's explore how Supernormal's automatic note-taking is making a difference across different fields—agencies, marketing, sales, and product teams.

Agencies

In a fast-paced agency environment, meetings are often the norm rather than the exception. With Supernormal, agency teams can focus on brainstorming creative ideas and strategy meetings, rather than getting bogged down with note-taking. Post-meeting, everyone has access to a comprehensive and accurate record of the discussion, ensuring that no creative insight or action item is lost in the shuffle.

Marketing teams

Marketing teams thrive on collaboration and innovation. With Supernormal, these teams can engage more fully in discussions, knowing that all the important points, from campaign strategies to performance metrics, are being captured accurately. The auto-generated action items also help in keeping track of tasks, ensuring the smooth execution of marketing plans.

Sales teams

For sales teams, every detail matters. Supernormal ensures that all information from sales meetings, be it about lead generation strategies or sales target discussions, is captured and easily accessible. The ability to quickly search the notes also helps in preparing for client meetings or follow-ups, enhancing the overall sales process.

Product teams

Product teams juggle multiple aspects, from product development to user feedback and market trends. Supernormal helps these teams keep track of their multifaceted discussions without missing any detail. The auto-generated action items can be particularly useful in managing product development timelines and tasks.

Meeting notes template

A template can further aid in organizing your notes for quick reference and follow-ups. They create a concise record of what was discussed, making it simpler to share updates and refer back to previous meetings when needed. Automatic note-taking shines here. While Supernormal ensures all essential details are captured, you can take it one step further with the platform’s template library. These templates customize meeting notes based on the type of meeting you’re having, making your notes even more effective and accurate. 

AI-powered meeting templates like these process your meeting notes for you. They’re a shortcut to improving your meeting comprehension—the work of identifying the key takeaways and action items is all done automatically.

These templates exist for a wide variety of meeting types, like customer discovery, team meeting, and job interviews. Supernormal also has quite a few beta note templates in the works, including attending a presentation, recruiting, sales pitches, and more. 

Step into the future of meetings with Supernormal

In an age where technology streamlines every aspect of our work, it's time to let go of the distractions and inefficiencies of manual note-taking. Say goodbye to cognitive overload and hello to a new era of efficiency, focus, and productive meetings.

Supernormal's automatic note-taking technology empowers you to fully participate in your meetings, safe in the knowledge that every detail is being captured accurately. It's not just about recording the conversation—it's about intelligently distilling the key points and action items, giving you a comprehensive, easy-to-navigate record of your discussions.

Leverage AI to capture any meeting and automatically generate actionable transcripts and notes. Make your meetings more efficient, your notes more reliable, and your team more productive with Supernormal.

Join 200,000+ people using Supernormal to move their work forward

Sign up for free to discover the magic of Supernormal.