Taking notes in meetings at work

Hi all. It’s been forever since I’ve dropped in on the community. Life (and my brain) really got in the way. But I need some advice, and I figured this was the perfect place to find it. Every month, I need to report back to my bosses about things that went well, and things that could’ve gone better. However, my reports keep getting dinged for not being detailed enough. Specifically, this past month I wrote that a design presentation I gave “was well received”, but the feedback I received was that I should have given examples to explain what “well received” actually meant.

The problem is, I remember the overall tenor of the meeting, but not the specifics of what people said. Clearly I need to take better notes in meetings at work, but I’ve always found that when I focus on taking notes, I can capture some of what’s being said, but totally miss the thread of the conversation. Does anyone else encounter this, and do you have any strategies to cope with it?

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Are a lot of the things they’re tracking related to presentations? If so, maybe preparing and passing out evaluations would be helpful to see how people receive them. Are they looking for information on numbers and attendance? Do they need information on productivity? Do you know what exactly they’re tracking? If not, having them put that down specifically in writing would be helpful.

I do think taking notes at meetings is one step. Maybe using a voice recording app too after meetings to jot down quick notes or to record things people have told you if you don’t have paper nearby.

A lot of times companies want you to justify your job and prove the work that you do. So, the more you can “show your work” the better. Include copies of e-mails, show them your calendar of appointments, keep an excel spreadsheet of the tasks you do each day. It depends on how detailed the employer wants things. I’d start with your supervisor and ask for clarification if she/he can provide it. Sounds super stressful!

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Can you get a voice recorder or use you phone to record the meeting so then you can go back and listen to it again.

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Writing when its fresh in your brain might help. Or … when your brain is FRESH. First in the AM. Right before bed. Just find a time DAILY to write out an accomplishment or challenge. You don’t have to use them all with your status but by writing it immediately the details are more fresh.

If you know which kind of info to look out for, it might help to prepare a sheet or page with sections for anything that relates to those aspects. Do your bosses keep asking for suggestions that came up during your presentation? Have a section for that and whatever comes up, make a quick note there.

If the reactions tend to be roughly the same (I tend to give very brief reports, too, especially when things go as usual and nothing out of the ordinary happens), you might even one-up the prepared sheet idea and create some kind of bingo card for remarks that come up a lot, so you can just check them instead of writing them down.