Did you know that the latest tools provided by Evernote make it a very useful application for managing meetings?
Organizing and managing meetings is a tedious yet important part of getting things done, and I didn’t realize how useful Evernote could be for creating meeting agendas and taking minutes until recently. The latest features for adding to-do lists, creating tables, sharing notes and notebooks, and attaching documents makes Evernote an ideal tool for managing meetings.
If you’re new to Evernote, download our free unofficial Evernote manual to get up and running in no time.
Create a Template
All teams, committees and organizations have unique needs and purposes, but when it comes to creating a meeting agenda there are some standard items you will probably include for every meeting. Before your next meeting, create a note template that will be used for the agenda and minutes of your meeting.
I prefer using the Evernote tables feature for agenda and minutes because it automatically resizes as content is added. Columns and rows can’t be added or deleted, but since I use the table as a template, this is not much of a problem. Adding the names of regular attendees makes it easier to check off who attended the meeting.
I keep the date and time of the meeting in the title section of the note to make it easier for myself and other team members to identify that information. Another attractive piece of formatting for an agenda is Evernote’s special horizontal rule menu item (Format > Insert Horizontal Rule).
Duplicate your agenda note and try it out the next time you have an actual meeting to see what needs to be revised. When you’re satisfied with the results, you can duplicate the template for future meetings, and of course keep all your meeting notes in a designated notebook. You can also export (File > Export Note) the template note to your documents folder or Dropbox account, and re-import a copy when needed.
Link to Other Notes
In preparing the agenda for you meeting, you may or may not know that external links and links to notes can be added to items in your meeting note. To add an external link, select and right-click on an item in the note, and choose Link > Add Link… and insert the external URL.
To link to another note in your Evernote, right-click on the note in a snippet, card, or list view and select Copy Note Link. Paste the link as you would any external link to link to the note. This is very handy for adding the outcomes of past meetings to your current agenda, or discussing menu items for which you have other materials in Evernote.
Sharing and Collaborating
While there are several good agenda and minutes apps available for the iPad, I prefer using Evernote because of its sharing and collaborative features. These make it easy to share agendas and meetings online or via email with your team and other meeting attendees.
Another advantage of this type of sharing is that links to your meeting notes will always include changes and updates to the notes, and that the layout of Evernote notes is professional on a webpage.
If you use a premium Evernote account you can share notes with other Evernote users, particularly for collaboration purposes. Shared notes can be set for read-only or read and modify access. Evernote keeps track of who modified the notes, and if there are any system conflicts, Evernote automatically makes a duplicate of your conflicted note so the issue can be resolved.
Another useful feature in Evernote is that ability to set reminders. Personally I attach a reminder to a meeting agenda that which reminds me to mail the the minutes to attendees a few days before the meeting is to be held. Evernote reminders will show up on all your devices that have Evernote installed.
During the Meeting
While Evernote is of course useful for taking minutes, many versions include a presentation feature for displaying your meeting agenda and other notes via a projector screen, as well as a built-in marker tool for highlighting content.
The presentation tool includes a menu item for presenting a note on another screen, but you will need click or tap the presentation button in the tool bar each time you change to a different note, so be sure to practice using presentation mode before your meeting! The presentation feature could also be used as a digital “whiteboard” for brainstorming ideas.
The audio recording tool is also handy for recording portions of the meeting that you want to review later. You might need an external microphone, instead of the internal microphone on your Mac or PC, to get a good quality recording of a room full of people.
Evernote doesn’t at this time allow for two or more people to collaborate live on notes, but a recent update to the online service LiveMinutes (reviewed here) does allow for live collaboration using Evernote notes.
As with agendas, Evernote makes it convenient to also share the minutes of your meeting almost immediately after the meeting is completed. Team collaborators can make any needed adjustments to the minutes, and the minutes can be used to prepare the agenda for the next meeting.
The beauty of using Evernote is that all your minutes are kept in a notebook for easy access. After you accumulate lots of minute notes, you can select them all and either merge them into one huge note, or export them to a local drive (File > Export Notes) where they can be retrieved if you need them again.
Notice also when multiple notes are selected in a notebook, a table of contents can be created for that collection. The TOC is created as note and is a great way to way share a list of completed minutes over time.
Adapts To Your Needs
Using Evernote effectively to help organize and run your meetings requires that you’re familiar with many of the service’s advanced features. If your team members are also using the service, it can make organising, collaborating and sharing meeting materials easier, and it means using a few less applications to get things done.
Let us know if you use Evernote for preparing and holding meetings in the comments, below.