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Virtual First | Communication Kit

Write notes for action

Writing notes is an art. With more reps comes more speed, fewer unnecessary words, and more concise recaps. Leveraging agendas to keep meetings on track is a great first step, but don’t stop there! Learn to capture real-time notes in a way that spurs action and eliminates confusion.  


A group of people sitting at a desk as viewed from above. Some type on laptops, while others take notes or drink out of to-go cups and mugs.

Step 1: Take the lead

Ask any athlete and they’ll tell you: there’s no substitute for more reps. By proactively volunteering to lead notetaking in your next meeting, you inject focus into the process. Other attendees are free to talk and engage without worrying if their ideas are being documented, while you’re empowered to put your energy toward capturing key moments, challenges, questions, and action items. For agenda-led meetings, put your notes in the shared agenda. For other instances, you can capture in a collaborative document like Dropbox Paper and share after the meeting. 

Step 2: Use names and formatting

When you’re documenting real-time notes, write the speaker’s name before the note. Knowing who was speaking allows those reading your notes to gain context on the person — and in turn, their role and perspective. Go a step further by using smart formatting. Numbered lists are more citable than bulleted lists as they provide a specific number to refer back to, and indentations enable you to document a complete thread of conversation while avoiding run-on thoughts. 

Step 3: Listen for questions and actions

The quickest way to ensure you’re only documenting the most important takeaways (as opposed to a transcript) is to listen for questions, follow-up requests, and calls to action. If the situation calls for it, tag people and specify due dates. These are the most vital elements to refer back to, and it ensures that those who could not attend the meeting — or those who may be interested at a later time — have a clear view of what went unanswered and what comes next.
From Dropbox

More tips for stronger writing

Check out these other practices from the Virtual First Toolkit: 

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From others

Great resources from experts we trust

Learn to note take like a pro

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Someone pulling a note out of an envelope

3 easy wins

Build the habit

  • Tomorrow: Raise your hand to be the designated note-taker in an internal company meeting, and share this practice with those in attendence.
  • Next week: Volunteer to take notes in an external meeting, and share your takeaways afterwards. 
  • Quarterly: Ask meeting organizers in your function to add a “Please take notes” reminder atop all standing agendas.