Are you feeling like no progress gets made after spending hours in seemingly endless meetings?

Or maybe you participated in a productive meeting only to forget everything that was discussed the second you walk out the door or end the call?

A woman looks confused about math equations. Text reads: Trying to remember what I said I would do in the meeting.

If you've ever found yourself in this situation, use one of thesenote-taking methodsto get organized in your next meeting:

  • Quadrant Method

  • Cornell Method

  • Outline Method

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Meeting Minutes vs. Meeting Notes

Meeting minutes are actually different than meeting notes.

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Meeting Minutes

Meeting minutes are a formal written record and typically include information like:

  • Start and end time of the meeting

  • Names of people present and absent from the meeting

  • Decisions made and actions that take place during the meeting

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Meeting Notes

Meetings notes are quick references to:

  • Goals

  • Ideas

  • Action items

  • Other important topics discussed


You can still take your own meeting notes even if someone is recording meeting minutes. These 3 note-taking methods can help you document and recall your takeaways in any type of meeting.

1. The Quadrant Method

Paper divided into 4 sections: top L Questions, top R Notes, bottom L Personal Action Items, Bottom R Action Items for Others Image authored by Erin Ferris

The Quadrant Method organizes your notes according to 4 categories. The method can be used for personal or shared team notes.

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Set It Up

Separate your paper into 4 quadrants:

  1. Questions (Top Left): Note questions that need to be answered in the meeting. Include other important questions asked/answered here too.  

  2. General Notes (Top Right): Write key points and critical details.

  3. Personal Action Items (Bottom Left): Use this section as a personal to-do list for tasks discussed.

  4. Action Items for Others (Bottom Right): List the tasks assigned to other meeting attendees.

2. The Cornell Method

Top section - Meeting Details, left section - key points, right section Notes, bottom section Summary Image authored by Erin Ferris

The Cornell Method mirrors your notes to the overall meeting structure.

Think about the flow of a typical meeting:

  • Someone shares a key idea or asks a question.

  • Relevant details are discussed.

  • The conversation then shifts to the next topic or question and the cycle continues.

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Set It Up

  1. Meeting Details Section: Use the meeting name and date as your header.

  2. Separate your paper into 2 columns: a small column on the left and a large column on the right.

  • Left Section (Key Points): Include keywords and big ideas.

  • Right Section (Notes): Use the right side to capture the details of keywords listed on the left side.

  1. Summary Section: Summarize the topic(s) discussed.


Suzie is using the Cornell Method to record the team meeting notes. Her colleague pitches a new initiative to help boost customer satisfaction. Where should she list the timelines discussed for implementing the initiative?

3. The Outline Method

Meeting Details, Agenda Item 1. Below is bullets listing key point, question. Agenda item 2 lists the same bullets Image authored by Erin Ferris

The Outline Method works best when your meeting follows a clear agenda.

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Set It Up

  1. Meeting Details Section: Use the meeting name and date as your header.

  2. Agenda Items 1 and 2: Use each agenda point as a section heading for your notes.

  3. Key point and question: List key points and questions discussed and raised under their corresponding agenda heading.

Tip 💡

Use indented bullet points to list sub-topics and related questions.

Take Action

A man is pulling out a notebook from his pocket. Text reads:


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