When attending a lecture or participating in a meeting you’re often presented with a wealth of facts and information, which can make committing these details to memory and impossible feat for most of us. We speak substantially faster than we write, which means that brushing up on your effective listening and note taking skills can allow you to take in large chunks of information, determine the major points, and then create useful notes to refer to for future use.
Effective Listening Strategies
Sitting in a classroom or meeting for hours at time can be mentally exhausting and staying focused and alert is absolutely essential. Here are a few ways to do this:
- Avoid eating large or heavy meals immediately before a class or meeting. When we eat, our body needs energy to digest it, and the more we eat(and the heavier the meal is) the more energy it requires.
- Avoid distractions like playing on your cell phone or checking your email.
- Resist daydreaming by staying focused on taking good notes. Nothing’s more frustrating than to leave a lecture or meeting and realize that the note’s you’ve taken are sufficient to review the material
- If possible, try to participate in discussions. This not only allows you to absorb the material better by placing it in context, but it also provides an extra activity to keep you alert.
In fact, listening more attentively may be easier for you if you sit near the front or center of the room. Studies such as the one conducted by the University of Nebraska – Lincoln show that people who sit in or near the front or center of the room listen better and retain more of a lecture or discussion. Placing yourself in close proximity to the speaker could help you remain focused and engaged in the lecture or meeting.
Along with strategic seating, you can also be a more effective listener by paying attention to the speaker’s body language and verbal cues. Speakers will raise their voices or emphasize words that they want people to remember. Likewise, they also will motion with their hands when they are trying to make a point. When you see this body language, you should take note of what is being discussed.
Finally, you can make listening easier when you prepare beforehand for the class or meeting. By reviewing materials or reading a text chapter, you can anticipate will be discussed and increase your chances of comprehension and retention.
Effective Note Taking
Listening effectively is only half of the equation when you want to remember as much of the information as possible. You also can retain the main points of the discussion by taking notes.
Here are a few ways to help you take better notes:
- Use abbreviations that make sense to you
- Rephrase the discussion or lecture into your own words
- Use a separate notebook for each class or meeting
- Write down the main points and also examples given to you by the lecturer
It’s also beneficial to make a note of anything your professor or instructor writes on the blackboard or dry erase board-chances are good that this information is key to the lecture. Writing down questions that you have about the material and presenting them during or at the end of the class could also be beneficial.