Attending conferences is always an investment to extend our knowledge, learning new topics, discovering new techniques, networking …

To increase the return-on-investment of our participation, let’s think about the benefit of taking effective notes.

Below 7 tips from my personal experience how I’m improving my notes taking.

1. Prepare your Wishlist in Advance

Before at least one day try to read the abstract of the conferences carefully, choose the ones suitable for you by asking yourself the below questions in order to prepare a good structure in your mind.

  • Who is the speaker and his background?
  • What is the topic of the talk and the mentioned takeaways ?
  • What is the relation between the conference topic and my everyday work or curiosity ?
  • How the conference can improve my skills on that topic ?

So, you will have a clear idea of what topics could bring value to you and worthy to attend.

2. Go Beyond the Conference Title

Following step 1, you have a list with topics that interest you the most.

You can go further, make online searching and investigation from your own knowledge.

Then, prepare a mindmap for chosen conferences and prepare your thoughts, questions and what you want to learn more about it. It could even generate a lot of interesting ideas and make you realize if this is the right topic that motivates you.

3. The Conference Day

Try to be on time for the conference and prepare an empty space for talks you are interested in in your notebook with conference title for faster notes taking.

4. Structure Your Notes

When the conference start, follow it wisely and donβ€˜t note everything. In fact capturing everything blindly won’t make you remember the message being said, instead you can use your own words to summarise the main ideas or concepts while taking notes.

Also don’t forget to choose your note-taking mode (digital notes or hand notes) depending on available materials, skills and preference. See the comparaison below

If you want to share it live, make sure to have good camera, tripod and internet connection in placeThe results feel finished and polished; this makes it more difficult to co-create or to go and fill in the gaps
For quick sharing of results in digital way use the camera of your smartphoneParticipants expect more perfection in the visual work
If you want to work small but display large, use a document camera to project your images Mastering your digital tool is critical for a successful facilitation

Another tip that helped me to track my progress, and to see all my notes any time is the creation of hashtag specially for my notes #emnanotes on linkedin.

5. Consider Sketchnoting

Text and images are mightly friends, and when paired together they make information more memorable and easier to process.

It’s really interesting to sea all the value that a talk brings modelished in a sketchnote !

When using drawing as a tool to communicate or capture ideas, focus on the key identifying factors of what you are trying to draw and what use the seven seed shapes to create your image.

Remember that you are not an artist, the more simple you image are the faster they are to draw and the more they inspire participants and invite them to fill in the blanks.

6. Follow a note-taking strategy in all your notes

You can choose a template for each note or it would be great if you get familiar with one example and you structure your content, colors images, sections in the same manner to make it easier for your follower to understand your patterns.

Take pictures with your phone so that you can remember all what’s being said while reviewing your noes.

Also, just after the conference, I’m sure you have more notes in your mind, phone than what you wrote. So review and summarize your notes you can make a greater one but if you skip this step your learning curve will start decreasing.

Personally, my real time notes are awful but I collect all notes, what in my mind and some mobile pictures then I make a fresh one the evening of the conference.

7. Share Your Notes

Sharing your notes with a quick summary of your takeaways in social media using the conference hashtag is a great opportunity to reach conference attendees, speakers so that they can add their feedbacks and their observation to your notes that could be an occasion to retrospect your notes and make a better version everytime.


Hope those tips inspire you for better note-taking experience, don’t hesitate to comment your feedback. I’m a new sketchnoter, so there still a lot more to learn and to practice. Happy to receive your feedback, follow my blog for more updates.