4-3 Developing Note-Taking Skills
One way to develop your note-taking ability, your skill in using abbreviations and to increase your speed in this task, is to take notes during television newscasts.
Develop the habit of watching the screen while you take notes. Learn to listen to the broadcaster and note his expressions as well as what he says. Learn to remember more of what was said than you note on paper. Note only the highlights of the report, recording all essential facts.
At the end of the 30-minute broadcast, review your notes, organize and transcribe them. If you have a video-cassette recorder, record the broadcast and review it after transcribing your notes. You may be surprised at how much of the broadcast you remember without using a tape recorder. Your speed will increase with practice.
There are six additional points to consider in note-taking.
Use a steno pad, or a pocket-sized notepad. Single sheets of paper may become disorganized and the notes taken on them can become as tangled as a pile of old wire coat hangers. Steno pads and notepads can be safely and quickly rearranged at the reporter's desk.
Write on only one side of the paper. Use a new page for every shift in topic to simplify organization later on.
Don't lose eye-contact with the subject (interviewee). With practice you can learn to write without looking at the notepad. This will let the interview become more conversational and will give the source something to look at other than the top of a head.
Pace your note-taxing. When the source says things of little interest to you, the tendency is to stop writing. Resist this natural tendency. The person will notice if you stop taking notes and his or her enthusiasm may wane.
Know ahead of time which key points you must ask questions about. To help you remember them, tape a 3x5 card with essential notations to the back of your steno pad.
Transcribe the interview as soon as possible regardless of whether you used a tape recorder or a pad and pen, or both. One Army writer goes so far as to transcribe important quotes from the interview as soon as he gets into his car following the interview. Others go to a library and many return to their office typewriters. Remember --the memory dims with time, rapidly. Tomorrow isn't soon enough, transcribe immediately.