On-Call Note Taking

Here’s a fascinating subject brought to my attention by a fella called Tom at one of my recent customers.  He mentioned to me that he was dyslexic and not wanting to use that as an excuse, was eager to improve his note making skills and asked my advice.  I ventured that a lot of decent note taking was linked to fine-tuned listening skills….. 

Impact Words 

Many people stumble because they try and write down every word spoken to them.  This is clearly impossible.  So focus instead on “impact words”.  What are the words you regularly hear that when crop up, are vital to you piecing together consequent data?

Commonplace Words

Then there are all those ‘filler’ expressions that people say a lot but you don’t need to write in longhand.  The obvious example is the ampersand (&) symbol for ‘and’.  Should a course in short-hand have been sadly absent from your colleague curriculum, simply make your own up for other common words.  I use a ‘w’ with a horizontal line above it for ‘with’ for instance.  Other common words I get to hear are ‘increase’ and ‘decrease’ (or their synonyms), so I simply use a vertical arrow for these, with arrowhead at top/bottom dependent on required direction.


You’re not the ‘expert’, the talker is, so don’t be ashamed to ask them to spell something, or repeat again to aid your understanding, whilst also giving you added time to note a key phrase down.  Interestingly I learned the other day that one of my clients won a national supplier agreement at a company called WSP by doing just this, so that one of their key presentations featured direct quotes relating to the scale of a problem from senior personnel.

I passed these hints on, and in reply, Tom sent me a cute finding from a 2006 Birmingham Uni study, which found that:

“as lnng as the fisdt and lsst lettr is coreht in wrding of a sntennnce the sentewnce is stwll posnlble to reed.”

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