My friend Tonya Alexeeva posted this on Twitter some day:
“Tomorrow begins my intensive one-week course on machine learning. I just realized I’m not used to make notes, but it would be great to revise this material later. Any tips for making notes for technical subjects and coding?”
I came across her tweet and gave a piece of advice on making notes during meetings and lectures. Here’s my perspective:
I don’t think there are any special tips for machine learning. No matter what subject you’re learning, techniques are pretty much the same. There’re dos and don’ts.
- Take notes not during the lecture, but in the first 30 min after it. This way you’ll be able to focus on listening and absorbing new information.
- Sketch anything that requires visual explanation. Images work better than abrupt and incoherent notes.
- Record a memo of the class to go back to something you’ve missed later.
- Don’t make screenshots or photos of the teacher’s slides. No one ever gets back to review them.
- Don’t try to remember and catch every minute detail. Pay attention to what brings novelty into your work, not what you already know.
- Don’t be afraid of asking questions like. “Why” is the best tool of gaining knowledge. Use it as more as you can.
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Most people spend hours writing follow-up emails after meetings with their clients. They keep looking for the right words that will work. However, follow-up emails aren’t about the right words and metaphors. Speed and accuracy is all they require.
A follow-up email is easy to turn into a template and reduce the time of writing one to 20−30 minutes maximum. The meeting itself is where all the magic happens. Here’s a ready-to-go plan to nail follow-up emails, follow it and you’ll be able to build trust with your clients way faster than before:
- Read up and prepare questions. The best meeting is the one you’ve planned in advance.
- Show up on time, don’t make your client wait for you.
- Remind participants why you’re having this meeting and draw a short plan of what’s going to happen next.
- Ask questions, shut up and listen to the answers—that's the most important part. Your client has all the necessary information you need to solve your problem.
- Ask additional questions to clarify anything you didn’t get or have doubts about. Don’t be timid, it won’t help you to do a good project.
- Make notes during the meeting. Write down only core ideas and thoughts. It shouldn’t be a word-by-word transcript.
- Edit notes and turn them into a list of agreements, certain steps, and tasks with deadlines.
- Send the list of agreements and the following steps to your client within one hour span after the meeting. Ask them if you got it right and offer to make suggestions to your notes if not.
- I added this point to make the total number odd.
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