Do You Mind If I Take Notes?

When you interview prospects or clients, your goal is to learn all that you can about their needs, wants, desires and fears. You ask questions to get them talking about how their businesses are going, what’s happening in their lives, what’s going right and what’s going wrong. And you want to make sure you accurately capture what they tell you.

So, to get it all down and not miss a thing, you want to use your laptop to take notes, right?


Research published recently by psychologists Pam Mueller (Princeton) and Daniel Oppenheimer (UCLA) makes it clear that the laptop is not the tool of choice for note taking—especially for high-level, complex interviews. Their study, called “The pen is mightier than the keyboard: Advantages of longhand over laptop note taking,” describes how recall and understanding are affected by how notes are taken.

The study compares “writers” to “typers.”  Here are some differences the researchers found:

  • Writers naturally sort through information as they write, eliminating trivial information and capturing important information. Typers tend to madly type everything they are hearing, without distinguishing between trivial and important.
  • Typers reproduce information sequentially without regard for connections. Writers organize information into logical groupings as they write.
  • Typers record twice as many words as writers, but they remember less—even when they have the opportunity to review their notes.
  • Most importantly, writers recall and understand important or complex information better than typers.

Common sense and science pretty much agree: if you want to learn something from your client or prospect, you’re better off leaving the laptop at the office and taking notes with good old-fashioned pen and paper.

Next Steps

If communication with clients or prospects can be a challenge in your firm, Contact Us for a complimentary phone consultation. The Rainmaker Companies can help you Grow Your Firm, Grow Your Practice, or Grow Your Self.

Joe Fehrmann – Senior Trainer and Consultant at The Rainmaker Companies