Today I'm sitting in an MVP event and taking notes. I sent my notes to the PM team and they remarked on how many more notes I captured then anyone else who was taking notes. The secret? When users are talking, write down everything they say. Just transcribe what they say, every word. If uses are talking, write it all down. It sounds easy because it is. Most people filter, “should I write that down? what about that?“ Filtering actually takes longer then just writing it all down, but it takes a lot of practice before this really sinks in.

This is also true when you visit users and watch them work. I tell people to not even bring their portable computers for taking notes, just bring a pad and a pen. There are two reasons for this. The first is that the computer makes you do a lot of stuff that is not writing down what users are saying, like creating and saving files, switching batteries, etc... Also, a pad and pen lets you scribble diagrams, flow charts, etc... Tablet PCs are a good alternative though becuase you get searchability, etc...