Public relations often requires note taking. Note taking can be tricky because you want to keep your notes simple, but also have as much important information as possible. You can quickly get caught in the trap of trying to write down every word and fall behind. Check out these tips to become a better note taker.
First and foremost, be prepared. You can’t take notes without note taking materials. If you need to commit concepts to your memory, use a pen and paper. A study at Princeton University shows that note takers retain information better when they take notes by hand instead of using a laptop. If you need to write down exactly what someone is saying, use a laptop. Most people can type faster than they can write, so using a laptop allows you to write notes word-for-word. However, you’ll need to go over your notes a few more times to commit them to memory if you use the word-for-word method.
Use a method that works for you. Your notes are for you. Write them in a way you’ll understand. I prefer bullets, but you can make webs, draw pictures, or use symbols. It doesn’t matter if your notes look like hieroglyphs, as long as you know what they mean. Learn about the mind mapping technique here http://www.mindmapping.com
Keep your notes short. Stick to abbreviated keywords that matter. Cut out words you don’t need, and use symbols like + for and or w/ for with. Shorten longer words and phrases like Declaration of Independence to Dec. Ind. or DoI. Also, write down your notes in your own words. When you write down notes in your own words, you’re forced to think about the content you’re writing about.
Leave wide margins. If you write linear notes, make sure you leave space on the left or right side to add information to previous notes. Overcrowded notes can quickly become illegible or confusing.
When you blog multiple times a week as I do, it sometimes feels impossible to keep churning out stimulating posts. When you feel you’re in a rut, remember these tips and tricks to stay creative.
Caffeine is your best friend- I once asked an established PR professional how she stays creative and she told me: “Caffeine…so much caffeine.” Caffeine can help you get the kick-start you need to get your thoughts rolling. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, try a decaf tea or coffee. My roommate swears that the act of getting a cup coffee or tea (decaf or not) can give you the placebo effect of being caffeinated.
Move around- Researchers indicate that you should take a two-to-five minute break every 15 minutes to an hour to stand up and move around. However, this can seem unproductive in an office setting. Also, you might feel uncomfortable doing stretches at your desk (I know I do.) To get around this, I usually eat lunch at my desk and I take a few 10-minute breaks throughout the day instead of taking an hour for lunch.
Talk to people- A few times a week I go to Starbucks to get a much-needed Passion Tea around midday. I make an effort to talk to at least two people. You never know whom you will meet and what they will say. They may even spark your creative juices. (Also for any future interns: the doorman for the office building likes his Starbucks with two creams and four sugars.)
TED Talks- Their slogan is “Ideas worth spreading” for a reason. If you’ve never heard of TED Talks, log onto https://www.ted.com/talks immediately. You will learn things you didn’t even know you didn’t know. When in doubt, TED Talks always gives me an idea to roll with.
Drink water- I was flipping through the channels one night and landed on Lifetime’s “Child Genius.” It seemed like every other scene was of one little girl’s father demanding, “Please drink some water.” It seemed bizarre to me at first but I looked up a study on the effects of water on the brain. As it turns out drinking water may boost brainpower and reaction times. So stay hydrated! http://www.self.com/flash/health-blog/2013/07/health-drink-water-boost-brain-power-reaction-time/
Go outside- I take getting outside the box literally; I like to go outside the office on my breaks and get some fresh air and sunlight. Because my office is located in Washington, DC , I don’t have to go far to find inspiration. The streets in NW are always brimming with ideas.
Reflect- Remember that creativity flows to the willing. Focusing too hard on being creative can inhibit your creativity. Think about what’s going on in your life and relate it to current events, studies, or viral videos you’ve seen. After all, my initial lack of creativity today inspired me to write this post.
Sometimes your campaign will be educating the public and you must address a community group. The best way to educate an audience is with a presentation. Make your presentation the best it can be with these tips:
Know your audience. Learn as much as you possibly can about your audience so you can tailor your presentation to their needs and interests. Find out about any recent events related to your topic that may have impacted the audience.
What’s the point? Is your campaign meant to call people to action or is it part of an ongoing campaign? Make your purpose for speaking clear.
Know what you’re talking about. You should know the issue inside and out. Bring fact sheets to show you’re prepared.
Open your presentation the right way. Show the audience you know who they are and care about them and their issues. Stimulate the audience immediately with a personal story and let them know you want to hear their questions and stories, too. They should know you are there not only to describe the issue but also to provide solutions.
Use good judgment when presenting with a PowerPoint. Nobody wants to hear you read a slide word for word. They can read it themselves. An effective presentation requires engagement and eye contact. Don’t go over the time allotted for the presentation. Indeed, use of a Power Point can sometimes distract an audience from your oral presentation.
Ask questions. Make sure to give the audience enough time to respond if you really want an answer. If you wait long enough, someone will respond. Questions are also a good way to show you are talking to your audience, not at them.
The demand for infographics has grown immensely in the past few years. Check out these tips to make your infographics stand out.
Show don’t tell- your responsibility is to turn information into something visually stimulating. Let the images do the talking. A picture is worth a thousand words.
Make an infographic, not an excel chart- anyone can make a graph on excel. If clients wanted excels chart, they wouldn’t need you. Take your chart to the next level and make it really stand out.
Think outside the box- Most inforgraphics read vertically. Mix it up so your inforgraphic doesn’t get boring
Three colors are best- A three-color palette is easy on the eyes. The wrong colors can make your infographic hard to read. Stay away from dominant dark colors and neon together. Check out color psychology to really get an edge.
Begin with the end- Know what you want your audience to ultimately take away from your infographic and center your design around that.
Pick an interesting topic- It doesn’t matter how visually stimulating you inforgraphic is. If your topic isn’t interesting, your design will fail.