Today we’re going to look at some of the various note-taking tools on the market, and I’d like to start things off with a metaphor. As any auto racing fan could tell you, Michael Schumacher is probably the world’s most famous race driver, a seven-time Formula One champion who spent an impressive 15 years at the top of his profession. And while his super-awesome talent accounted for most of his success, he was also on some of the very best teams in the sport, driving the world’s most advanced racing cars. If Schumacher hadn’t been given the right tools for the job—if he’d been put on the track in, say, a standard midsized sedan instead of a Formula One car—he’d never have won a single race.
While office meetings are admittedly a whole lot less glamorous than international Formula One racing, the point is that your success is dependent on having the right note-taking tools. When it comes to taking notes, are you in that Ford Focus, or are you in the Ferrari race car? Let’s take a look at some of the most common tools to find out.
The old standby. Whether it’s yellow legal stationery or a creative department-approved Moleskine notebook, the notepad’s a great starting point. But you can’t share it without a scanner, documents aren’t searchable, and it’s easy to misplace. For small, informal meetings, the notepad is great. But for anything bigger than that, you might want to consider stepping up your note-taking game.
Because documents created in word processors can be emailed, searched and saved to a backup drive, they represent a big improvement over the old analog notepad in terms of collaborative potential and security. Unfortunately, word processors lose a lot of that usefulness because they lack the freeform capabilities of the ol’ pen and paper. Ultimately, these programs are great for taking minutes but less useful for freeform creative thinking.
Evernote is a “freemium” tool that was designed specifically for note-taking and archiving—a combination intended to bring out the best of both worlds. Proprietary Evernote “Notes” can consist of formatted text, webpages, web excerpts, photographs, voice memos and even handwritten notes taken from tablet screens.
Like Evernote, Microsoft’s OneNote program is a freely available collaborative program meant to bring the note-taking experience into the 21st century. Microsoft designed the program to be a computerized version of the iconic three-ring binder. Unlike with word processors, where the emphasis is on publishing, OneNote makes it easy to collect, organize and share unpolished notes. Pages can be any size you want, images can be inserted without loss of quality and you don’t have to work around a set page layout.
Lifesize Record and Share
Lifesize video conferencing systems let you record and replay full meetings so you’ll never miss an update or an action item again. When used in conjunction with some of the more powerful note-taking tools, like Microsoft OneNote or Google’s new Keep program, this is our metaphorical Ferrari: fast, streamlined and powerful. Lifesize Record and Share enables any Lifesize App user to securely record their video conferences, or individual conversations, from any of their devices or meeting room systems. They can even capture the content that is shared within the call, all with a single click. When you record a video, it automatically saves to your personal video library in your Lifesize account where you can watch, like, share and save videos to watch later.
Without notes, meetings are an exercise in futility. And at the end of the day, the notes you take are only as useful and actionable as the media they’re recorded on. So if you want to get the most out of them, then you’d better ditch the Focus for the Ferrari—start recording your meetings with Lifesize, taking notes on powerful, purpose-built software and taking advantage of the most cutting-edge business note-taking tools around!
For more information and tips on leading the meetings your team wants to be a part of, check out our guide on How to Own Your Meetings.