How to take notes in a mastermind meeting

The first key to success is to take notes during every meeting.

Consistency and practice are key. The best way to take some good notes is to take some really bad ones. I’m going to guess you’ve had some practice in school, so your worst notes are likely behind you.

Note taking is something that anyone can be good at, though if you’re reading this, you might think that you aren’t, or you can’t be.

But just like any skill, notetaking can be learned!

WHY NOTETAKING IS IMPORTANT:

You learn to quickly process someone else’s words in a way that will make sense for review later.

Notetaking forces you to quickly process someone else’s words, and write it down in a way that makes sense for review later. If you can come back to your notes without a lot of context, then you’ve done a great job!

You get to observe others’ communication style and learn to translate it into your own.

Notetaking in mastermind meetings allows you to observe and experience how differently people communicate, and how to translate all these communication styles into something that makes sense to you.

You get the important stuff down as it’s being said, so you don’t forget it.

And of course, especially when working on your business, the last thing you want to do is forget something really important someone shared with you. Note taking allows you to get it all down then, so you have the important information later.

STEP 1: DEVELOP A HIGH LEVEL OF WHAT YOU’RE TAKING NOTES ON

Ask yourself: Who is your audience?

There’s something that’s very different about writing for yourself vs writing for others.

When you write for yourself, you:

  • can say and write however you want;
  • can keep it private;
  • can write in shorthand;
  • you can write notes by hand without worrying about legibility for others;
  • it can be tempting to slack off.

The most important thing is that you get to craft your notes just for you, so be extremely self-centered.

When you write for others, you:

  • have to translate what you hear into something that makes sense to you, and then translate your own words to be understood by others;
  • get a double-check on your communication process;
  • get to practice writing for other people;
  • are more likely to self-edit, and potentially focus more on your notes than on the meeting

When writing for others, you want to be succinct and very clear.

What is the Structure?

Think about the structure of your meeting first, before you start taking notes. The structure of the meeting should inform your notes.

Create headers based on agenda items, and space each section by the length of meeting time for each item. I’ll cover this a bit more in the next step.

Understand the Desired Outcome.

What is the point of YOU taking notes?

The most important reason is so that you or others can refer back to your notes later, without the context of the meeting.

STEP 2: CREATE YOUR OWN TEMPLATE

Template your notes so you don’t have to spend any time thinking about logistics. When creating your template, think about the structure of your meeting is to think about the chronological order of events.

An example from my Mastermind Meeting Notes Template

Here are the headings I use in my template:

  • Attending
  • Wins
  • Hotseat
  • Goals
  • Next Week
  • Notes

These are purely based on the order of events during our meeting. We took attendance, talked Wins, did the Hotseat, shared Goals, discussed logistics for next week and anything important for group members to know.

The important lesson to learn is that templates aren’t set in stone. They should develop over time. It’s going to take a couple meetings to stumble on the right note taking groove, as it did for me.

After a couple months, I made some edits and changes, based on how the meetings were going.

Attending

I removed this section, because we decided that attendance tracking isn’t a big deal. You can read more about coming to this decision here.

Summary

This is a quick overview of the “theme” of the meeting. I added it at the very top of the notes.

Takeaways

These are 2–3 specific actions the person in the hotseat can take in the coming weeks. I added it between the “Hotseat” and “Goals” section.

I added these two sections to my notes because I was taking notes for my whole group, and I wanted the notes to be really actionable and reviewable for everyone in my group, not just for me.

Get the first step to success! Grab the Hotseat Prep Template below for free!

STEP 3: STOP WRITING EVERYTHING DOWN

The goal of writing notes is not to get every word and concept down. The goal of taking notes is to understand.

If you take notes in all your meetings, you’re going to feel that it becomes easier to understand people. It becomes easier to translate someone else’s words into something more clear. You’ll be able to decipher the difference between what someone says, and what they mean.

Not everything said is worth knowing or writing down.

I know I like to talk. Not everything I say is a million dollar idea! Sometimes I need to say a couple things out loud before I get to the right place, and a good idea clicks. That’s okay!

As long as you keep your desired outcome in mind while you’re writing, then it’s really easy to know what’s important vs what can stay out.

It’s important to process what you hear in your own words.

Not everything said is worth writing down in the words that they were said. meetings aren’t a place for poetry or beautiful metaphors. The desired outcome of mastermind meeting notes, for example, is that the audience can understand the notes later, outside of the context of the meeting. If you are the official note taker for the meeting, you are the official translator too!

If someone says something that is not clear to you, it’s possible you’re the only one confused, but it’s not likely. So if you need to explain something a different way, then you should do so. You don’t lose the concept, but it’s more understandable.

This is the part of note taking that might feel intimidating, but this is the skill that gets better as you take notes more often.

Unless the quote or the syntax is important, write things down how you would say them and how you would say them.

And if it becomes a problem, say you’re translating the notes into your own words and it’s confusing to your group, then that’s something you should work to improve. It’s a skill you may not have realized was something that needed improvement, and taking notes gave you the opportunity to work on it!

STEP 4: FORMAT YOUR NOTES AS SOON AS THE MEETING IS OVER

If you’re using a template, most of the formatting is done for you as your writing.

During a meeting, I’m writing down what I hear chronologically. But a lot of times during a meeting, connections are made between something just said, and something I wrote down awhile ago. I want to make sure the connection between those two points get’s drawn, because connecting ideas are important.

When I’m formatting, I move a lot of the information around. I put similar concepts and ideas together, and I lightly format, using colors, bolding, and so on, to make the notes really easy to understand.

If you’re writing notes by hand…

Formatting matters for you too!

One, you can rewrite your notes, more neatly, with different colors, and to connect ideas.

Two, you can digitize and type what you just wrote by hand. This is probably the best solution if you’re sharing with your group.

Please do one of these two options. I can’t tell you how often I’ve lost an important idea to chicken scratch in the margin.

I promise if you take the time to format, it will be well worth it, because there’s another little secret benefit: it helps you retain information.

Not only is writing notes valuable for recall, but formatting them right away gives you a chance to digest them. As you’re making connections between ideas or writing a theme for the meeting, you’re turning the information over in your brain, and you’re going to retain it.

A special note for masterminders:

I hope you do not approach the idea of taking and formatting notes as extra work. If you do, I’m afraid you’re missing the most important reason you’re in a mastermind: to get better. You’re not here for your fun and games, you’re here for your business. You should be taking every opportunity to squeeze every bit of usefulness out of your mastermind, and this is your first step.

If you liked this template, it’s yours. Download it now and make your mastermind meetings work for you! The Mastermind Meeting Notes Template will save you time and valuable brainpower during your next meeting.