Useless Notes

As a presenter, I often see attendees furiously taking notes, which may be flattering, but often leaves me wondering what they do with those notes. I think most of them are useless.

For more than 30 years I have been taking notes, but never on loose sheets of paper; I always take notes in journals. I number the book, each page number, and to date in am well into my 42nd book. Decades of valuable information gleaned from some of the best speakers in the world.

Over the last few years I have scanned my journals and store them in the notetaking app Evernote. This means that I can now search my journals, and reread them whenever I have a spare moment. I have thousands of notes in Evernote.

Being a bit of a ‘Note Nazi’ is why I think that most notes taken at seminars are useless. Most are taken on loose sheets of paper and will eventually be lost. Few are ever reread, meaning that the writers’ retention is next to nothing, unless they have photographic memories.

Unless you are going to take notes in a permanent storage facility such as a journal or notetaking app, and then study them for maximum retention, don’t bother taking notes. They will be of little value.

Retention

I remember sales trainer, Tom Hopkins, said many years ago that you need to hear, say, write and read something six times for 62% retention. It has always stuck with me, and since them I treat my notes very seriously.

It gave me great pride and pleasure when I interviewed Tom for Pittard TV and showed him my manual from 1983 – it was a 60 page manual that had grown to more than 500 pages with the notes I added over the following decade studying it.
Repetition

So if we are to retain, we must repeat. Read and reread our notes. The more repetition, the greater the recall. Who knows when something you read today turns into big commission? I don’t, and neither do you.

Handwriting versus Typing

I read that when you handwrite something, your recall is far greater than when you type the same text. So those who sit in seminars typing may recall less than those who took handwritten notes.

This is why I prefer now to take notes in my journal and then scan them to Evernote. I get the best of both worlds and probably improve my retention.

Useless or Useful

Your notetaking habits matter. Whether you type, handwrite or draw mind maps, without studying those notes afterwards, your retention will quickly wane.
Don’t waste good learning opportunities. Listen, write, store, review often, and then take those techniques into the field and practise them. Skill will be one reward; a higher income another.

The more you learn the more you earn.

Gary Pittard
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