Does anyone really like taking notes in a meeting?
The problem with note taking, despite the obvious reluctance to be the meeting minute “stuckee,” is the futility in adequately capturing and distributing the meeting minutes. Note taking can be especially tedious when team members draw concepts on whiteboards or scribble down “parking lot” ideas on flip boards. Note taking on paper in today’s technology-enabled world is simply archaic. With the mobility of laptops, note taking has become easier to administer. However, carrying a laptop around is bulky and not trendy enough in the age of smartphones and tablets.
Even if your meeting minutes and notes are stored digitally, it can become difficulty to store and organize them on your laptop, file server, or web-based document sharing solution. I’ll frequently store files on a file server, but I’m less likely to keep the files current or delete old versions. Fortunately, I’ve been using an amazingly powerful yet simple solution to organize, track, and manage notes.
Remember everything with Evernote
Evernote is an application that truly helps you to remember everything. It can record notes in a variety of formats, including text, documents, audio, and pictures. Evernote’s application footprint has the ability to run on every mainstream computer, phone, tablet, and mobile device platform. Each note is synchronized with a free web-based account, so if you leave your smartphone or tablet at home, you can access your notes with any web browser. Figure 1 depicts Evernote on the Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet.
Evernote on the Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy 10.1 Android tablet.
The Android platform provides the standard Evernote icon and a unique widget feature that displays the past few notes and allows access to the quick note-taking functionality.
Apple fans can also install Evernote on their iPads, MacBooks, and iPhone devices. Evernote truly is everywhere.
Putting Evernote into action
Evernote’s feature rich application makes taking meeting notes easy. Notes are organized into different notebooks, so you can setup different notebooks for both professional and personal projects. Notes can also be tagged with user-defined keywords that are searchable across all of your notebooks. The keyword tagging and search features make Evernote an indispensable business tool. Figure 2 shows Evernote’s tagging feature on the tablet.
Evernote tags with the Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy 10.1 Android tablet.
Tagging isn’t limited to text-based notes. In past meetings, where a whiteboard is covered with notes, I’ve used Evernote and my tablet to take a photo of the whiteboard. By simply taking a photo of the whiteboard, the results of the brainstorming session can be sent to all the team members without having to transcribe the notes. Since Evernote captures audio, pictures, and text easily on the tablet, each of these items can be tagged with multiple tags for future search and retrieval.
Full meeting minutes can be recorded via audio using a tablet or a smartphone. The audio file is attached to a note, and additional text-based details can be added to the note. Key leadership messages, team meetings, and presentations can be recorded for future use without having to type a single keystroke.
Using Evernote’s Skitch application, users can capture and edit photos, annotate Google maps, and create freehand drawings to provide fast and visual feedback. The photo that you take of your whiteboard brainstorm can be edited to point out great ideas and next steps. In Figure 3 below, I captured and edited a Google map for an upcoming conference location. Skitch also integrates seamlessly with your Evernote account.
Google map with Evernote’s Skitch application.
Evernote also allows users to share a note or share an entire notebook with other Evernote users. Project teams can create a shared notebook and distribute key messages, photos, and meeting minutes with the team using smart tagging. Evernote doesn’t have to be limited to formal note taking. Memos, sound bytes, and pictures from a company picnic or team celebration can also be captured and shared.
What about Evernote security?
Security is always a concern when combining business note taking with an externally hosted service. I met with Dave Engberg, Evernote’s Chief Technology Officer, to discuss Evernote’s security and data protection procedures. Mr. Engberg explained how security is an important issue for Evernote and highlighted how the Evernote team protects data using a multi-tier security model in a secure data center with strong auditing controls. The data center is SAS70 compliant, and the company conducts regular security access control audits. Data is always transmitted using a secure socket layer, and the company intelligently balances the need for security with speedy search and retrieval. Notes and notebooks can also be encrypted and setup to be stored locally instead of on the server.
Evenote is primarily designed to be a consumer-based service. Encrypting data at rest is not currently supported, so personally identifiable information, financial information, and other confidential types of data should not be stored. Use common sense and review your corporate security policy before putting any business information into Evernote. If you feel comfortable sending information via an email service, which resides ultimately on another server, then Evenote should be considered. Sensitive data requires a higher level of security.
Read more about Evernote’s privacy and security policy.
Give Evernote a try
Evernote is an indispensable productivity tool for any consultant, small business or freelance IT professional. As a tech writer, I find it invaluable when researching tools, best practices, and snipping meaningful screen shots and articles into notes for future reference. The pervasiveness of the Evenote on PC, Mac, and mobile platforms ensures that I’m never without an effective note-taking solution. The screen capture clipping feature in a web-browser or in the mobile Evernote app is much better than bookmarking URLs. Download the Evernote application for free on your tablet, smartphone, or favorite computing platform.
Do you already use Evernote? Share you favorite Evernote tips and tricks in the discussion thread below.