How long do you think you can remember the content of a keynote or a speech after you’ve heard it? Aren’t there times when you wish you would have remembered a particular fact or quote from a speaker? While there are those lucky few who never seem to forget a thing, the majority of us are stuck with average retention skills. In fact, it may surprise you to learn that we forget over half the things we learn within a matter of days. Yet we often spend thousands to attend professional conferences, and we take in a lot of information to remember—and promptly forget.
It may sound obvious, but taking notes at conference sessions is a great remedy for this problem. Set up a notebook in Evernote for an event you’re attending or organizing, and create a note for each keynote speech or panel discussion. Take live notes at the sessions, and you’ll have a notebook full of valuable insight that you can share or set aside for later.
Keeping an event notebook is a great idea for three simple reasons:
- Notes are short
Look around and you’ll find videos of keynote addresses and other speeches, but who has the time to watch them? It takes less time to digest a note summary than it does to flip through an entire PowerPoint, or sit through a video. Plus, you can always add PDF versions of presentations or links to videos in Evernote.
2. Notes stay with you
Why trust your short-term memory? When you write it down, what you capture stays with you—ready for whenever you need it.
3. Notes are shareable
If you’re attending a conference, share your takeaways with other attendees—or with co-workers who weren’t able to go. If you’re an event organizer, share notes with your guests as part of a “digital goody bag”—they’re sure to appreciate it. Evernote often serves as the “official note-taker” at major events, as we did with SXSW a few months ago.
Create a new notebook in Evernote. In Evernote’s notebook view, right click on the notebook you’ve just created to open the drop-down menu, and then select Publish notebook.
Set the name of your notebook’s public URL. When an Evernote notebook is published as a link, you’ll get a public URL that can then be shared with anyone. Unlike personal notebooks where you need to set reading permissions, anyone who has the public URL can view the contents of that notebook.
Tip: Make your public URL trackable and see how many people viewed your notebook. Shorten the URL with bit.ly to use on social media.
Create an agenda and an intro note
Once you’ve set up your notebook, it’s time to fill it with notes from the sessions you attend. Consider making notebook navigation easier by creating a Table of Contents note. If you set up your notebook so that each session has its own note, you’ll be able to recreate the conference agenda in just one or two clicks. Add the event line-up of speeches and panel discussions and insert links to each individual note.
Want to make your conference notebook even more enticing to your readers? Create an introductory note to welcome them and walk them through how to use the notebook. Take a look at this note to see an example of an introduction.
Get started with this note summary template
Now that you’ve set up the basis for your notebook, set up notes for all the keynotes and sessions you plan to attend. Setting up your notes means you’ll make sure that all the notes from each session have a consistent look. Take a look at our example note summary for some inspiration.
There are several things to keep in mind when setting up your notes:
- Give each session a title: Use a consistent structure for your note titles and stick to it. This will make it easier for your viewers to navigate through the notebook.
- Create a public link: You can also share each note summary individually. Learn more about how to create public links for individual notes.
- Set expectations: If you’re taking notes live from an event or conference, be sure to mention it. Tell your audience to check back later for the final version if you need some time to revise your notes before they’re ready to be shared.
Set up your public notes any way you like. Or, if you’d like some help, here’s a handy note summary template to get started.
Have you used Evernote at a conference you’ve organized or attended? Share your story with us in the comments below.