Why? Because they either lack confidence in their spelling or simply can’t write so that others can read it.
The good news? Capturing information for all to see during a meeting can be very useful. Once captured, this information can be used to keep a meeting on track. For instance, let’s say someone in the meeting suggests that topic X be included in the next meeting’s agenda. A little while later, they make the same suggestion two or three more times. If the idea had been captured on the Future Topics poster, the participant will know that they have been heard and may not repeat the suggestion again. It may also be that the meeting facilitator, if present, could point to the list and verbally confirm with the participant that the suggestion was captured correctly.
Bullet notes captured on posters during the meeting are not the same as meeting notes, although they may be useful when creating the meeting notes. Bulleted notes captured during the meeting are targeted at meeting participants and not at folks outside of the meeting. Their purpose is to capture key information that will be used during the meeting as a visual reminder of key ideas. Better visual support equals better meetings, and better meetings usually equate to fewer and shorter meetings and higher productivity.
What Should be Captured?
Don’t capture everything. In fact, only capture that which will be used at a later time. It will be important to capture agreements and decisions as accurately as possible (and perhaps even verbatim). Sometimes, once the decision is written down, it just doesn’t seem nearly as clear as it did when spoken. Meeting participants may want to play with the wording a bit to either clarify the statements, restructure the sentence structure, or simply to put their special ‘mark’ on the wording.
Another key element to capture is assignments made during a meeting. Most assignments are forgotten about 5 minutes after a meeting ends, and these notes are critical to getting things done. Capture the who, what, and when information so that participants understand what needs to be done and can get it done in a timely manner.
How to Capture Information
Capturing information in front of a group can be harder than one might imagine. There are several things that can be done to excell at this task.
- Write large enough so that everyone can read it.
- Only capture information that will be used later….not everything!
- Capture information in a neutral way
- Think brief, concise, and clear. If needed, ask for help or a ’15 second sound bite’ version.
- Don’t worry about spelling, focus on communicating.
- Consider drawing symbols such as @ (to represent the word “at”), &, or %
- Good at drawing? It may be faster to draw a fish than to write the word ‘fish.’
- Avoid using red pens? Why? Some people cannot see red. Red can also illicit a strong reaction (think blood), and generally can’t be seen at a distance (even for those without visual problems).
- Use more than one color, such as black and navy, and vary which color is used to capture each idea (e.g., first suggestion is black, second navy, third black, etc.)
- Use abbreviations, especially those that are well understood by the meeting participants.
And the bad news…There is no spelling binkie to help avoid these mistakes. Sooner or later, something will be misspelled and someone from the audience will just HAVE to point it out. Don’t give up the pen!!! Either have the participant spell the word correctly, or just ask them if they are familiar with texting… incorrect spelling is just a non-electronic form.