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Preparing the Tools to Listen and Take Notes Properly

Before you begin a note-taking assignment, it is important that you set the table first -- be prepared ahead of the main course, the speaker. If this is a classroom situation, prepare for the discussion or lecture before you come to class. Preview, read and review necessary material. Familiarity with the topic and concepts will allow you to identify important information quickly and easily.

If you don't prepare by previewing the topic or material to be covered, you may tend to think that everything coming from the speaker's mouth is important. You can't possibly write down everything that you hear. Being properly prepared makes note taking easier and more meaningful.

If your note taking is to occur based on a verbal presentation, remember some of the listening skills that were reviewed earlier -- principally, reducing distractions. Distractions can distort what you hear and, consequently, the notes you are able to make.

Therefore, arrive a little early for the presentation and pick a seat near the front of the room, where you can easily hear the speaker and also see the blackboard or any overhead used by the speaker. Also, if you feel that you would be distracted by sitting near a window or a door, select a seat away from these potential distractions.

Finally, make sure you are prepared to take notes by having an adequate supply of paper and more than one pen or pencil. If, halfway through the presentation, your pen runs dry and you don't have another, you may be out of luck. It is amazing how people can attend a class or lecture and at the last minute be running around trying to find paper or borrow a pencil. Come prepared.