BEST PRACTICE

What “The Devil Wears Prada” Taught Me About Mastering the Art of Notetaking

Maria Leuzinger By Maria Leuzinger, Copywriter and Swing Dance Enthusiast, Extra Mile Marketing

In “The Devil Wears Prada”, Andie, the new assistant to the intense, harried, and demanding Miranda Priestley, thinks she can rely on her basic intelligence and writing abilities to carry her into the world of Fashion.  At her first meeting with Miranda, she is woefully unprepared, attending the meeting without a note pad, without having familiarized herself with the company, and with the brazen arrogance that she is smarter than everyone and can manage an entire laundry list of tasks with her memory alone. 

In the world of Marketing, launching, running, and completing multiple campaigns, with literally hundreds of essential tasks, requires meticulous organizational skills. While we all have varying preferences on how best to manage marketing chaos, at EMM we’ve found one thing that’s a must-have for any project or meeting: comprehensive and intentional note-taking. 

In the following 7 simple tips to note-taking mastery, we’ve outlined our best practices and insights that we find critical to kick off a project on the right foot, keep all stakeholders aligned throughout the process, and ensure technical details are represented correctly. 

 

We are ALL note takers! 

We find it helpful to have a designated note-taker for each meeting. That doesn’t mean that others are off the hook, though. 

If everyone chips in, taking notes that they deem critical, the designated note-taker can later use others’ notes, compiling them into a single document to fill any gaps, sort out inconsistencies, and enter the project with a strong foundation of information.  
 
 
Don’t rely on memory alone 

Even the smartest brains, with the strongest memories, can overlook details.  

According to an article in Artifact, on average, we can hold up to seven pieces of information in our heads at once, and only for about 20 seconds. That’s roughly one phone number.  

After that, our brains become too saturated to secure any more information, and details start to topple like Jenga blocks.  

It’s important to capture details and quotes verbatim so you’re not left scratching your head. This is why having multiple note-takers is a plus!  

 
Prepare ahead of time 

If you have an upcoming kickoff meeting with a client, make sure to familiarize yourself with the company, key stakeholders, and their industry beforehand. View their website, recent events, social media accounts, videos, and any other materials with important information about their company, goals, and values.  This will help you enter the meeting with any questions that you didn’t find the answers to in your research.  

It also helps to have a framework for your notes! . Preparing a shell document can save time, organize your thoughts, and help keep your notes thorough and consistent across all meetings.  

You’ll thank yourself later! 

 
Listen to everyone

Sometimes meetings are crowded! Kickoff meetings often have multiple Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), project managers, business leaders, marketing leads and everyone in between. With so many voices and opinions, parsing out the most pertinent pieces of information can be difficult.  

By jotting down each attendee’s title, you can keep track of who said what, to approach the project with everyone’s vital input.  

 

Don’t editorialize 

This one is extra tricky for copywriters!  

It’s tempting to edit as you go, but this often leads to skipping key details and context. Write down as much as you can and save the fine-tuning for later.  

 
Clarify what you don’t understand (but don’t interrupt meeting flow) 

No matter how long you’ve worked in the tech or marketing industries, you’re bound to need clarification from time to time.  

When you encounter topics or technical jargon that you’re unfamiliar with, highlight it (or bold, or italicize, or underline - you get the idea). If the meeting includes time to ask questions, ask away. Otherwise, follow up with your fellow note-takers or consult Google to clarify, and verify with an SME at a later date.  

 

Record everything

Ok, maybe not everything. You probably won’t need to remember the name of your client’s cat that jumped into their Teams screen mid-meeting.  

But recording meetings in their entirety has many benefits. The Teams transcription tool enables you to record conversations in real time and reference direct quotes that may have been lost during the note-taking process. It also makes it easier to take screenshots of helpful slides, diagrams, and graphics.  

Write the time stamp of sections you want to review later and remember what your math teacher said: “Don’t forget to show your work!” That way, you and your team can go back and confirm where a specific piece of information originated. 

 

Finally, note-taking is like a muscle that needs frequent strengthening.  

It is an indispensable practice that benefits you and your clients.  Establishing effective note-taking practices at your organization can help projects run more smoothly, capture the true meaning of what is being shared, and foster trust with your clients. 

Don’t wing it, write it down! 

 

If you are interested in having one of our note-taking gurus give your team a refresher course, let us know at: Emma@emminc.com. 

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