When I attend a conference, a meeting, a seminar, church, a class, listen to a speaker, or I'm at any function that requires me to listen intently, I typically do myself a favor and put my cell phone away, get laser-focused, pick up a pen and paper, and take a few notes.
Here are 7 quick reasons I take notes:
1. No one can remember everything. I don't care how good of a photographic memory I may think I have, there are some things that will slip pass my memory. For me, my notes are a great memory-jogger. I try to rely on my memory, but there are times when my memory fails me. Taking notes helps me recall information that I know I will otherwise forget.
2. When I take notes, I actually stand out. Often times, people don't take notes, so more times than not, when I take notes, I'm the only one taking them. Often times, it's a good thing to stick out from the crowd. As a speaker, when I look out on to the audience and see someone taking notes, that sticks in my mind. People notice, and sometimes it can be a good thing to be noticed.
3. It communicates my sincerity towards the topic or information being conveyed. I realize that I am communicating even when I'm not talking. Eye contact, actively nodding, writing down key points, and sitting up in my seat. All of that is communication. By taking notes, I'm communicating to everyone around me that i'm serious about this isse, serious about learning, and I'm eager to grasp the information being provided. It communicates that "I care deeply about this topic".
4. Writing down information commits it to a deeper part of my memory. I can text, email, or type on my laptop, but studies show that when I actually take a pen and paper, and write down information, that information gets collected and stored in a different part of my memory. Similar to speaking something out loud, writing something on paper connects the dots in my brain just a little bit differently.
5. Taking notes forces me to stay alert and maintain focused intensity. In order to take good notes, I have to listen carefully. To listen carefully, I have to focus. To focus, I have to stay alert. You get the point here. I make it a habit to sit up front, listen intently, watch the speaker, actively engage in the information, and take notes about the information being shared. It helps me not miss a beat.
6. Recording information on paper organizes my ideas and helps me highlight key concepts. The key here is to develop a system. Make pie charts, lists, squares and circles on your paper, use index cards, or draw mind maps: whatever works for you. For me, I try to write my notes orderly, but I don't focus on neatness. I organize my notes later. Going back to organize, and re-organize my notes, again, helps me commit them to memory. Which is a good segue to #7 below.
7. Notes are a study tool to learn from at a later date. My theory is what good are my notes if I don't take the time and energy to go back to them? I try to ALWAYS (although admittedly I'm not always successful at this) go back and re-organize, study over, and re-visit my notes. Of course this depends on how much I honestly care about the topic. If its super important, I try to memorize concepts from my notes so that the foundation of the information is committed to my memory. And if I have no notes, what am I going to go back and study?
Try it. You'll be surprised at how effective this is. I know for some of us, we haven't taken notes in 20 years, but give it a shot. It really helps!