This article was originally published at www.propiacademy.com
When you graduated high school you probably thought taking notes was a thing of the past!!! Professionals in every field find note taking to be a critical skill. Although technology provides several note taking tools, pen and paper (notebook) are still the best for taking notes. Whether you are novice or a skilled professional honing your note taking skills will provide allow you to accurately record information, verify you have the information you need and reduce the time you need to complete your investigative report.
Pen/pencil and paper is the best note taking tool! - Although technology provides many benefits and without smartphones, computers, tablets, audio and video recorders you would not be able to complete your tasks as a professional private investigator, pencil and paper is still the be. Just like a car mechanic, you need to pick the right tool for the right task.
Using technology to take notes during an interview is distracting and takes more time than a notebook and pencil. Audio/video recorders are great tools for recording action as it happens but in an interview they are a hindrance for the person being interviewed to freely share information. Later, when you are trying to write your report, it is difficult to find a specific fact-- rewinding and fast-forwarding is frustrating when you are in a hurry.
SAFETY FIRST! When using technology it is easy for you to get distracted scrolling, highlighting, saving, etc. With paper and pencil you maintain awareness of your situation.
Five steps to improve your note taking abilities:
1. Focus on the information you NEED! When interviewed, people provide a lot of information that is not relevant to the investigation. Write down the important items. For example; you are interviewing a witness about a crime they observed. The interviewee may respond to your question, “What did you see?” with,
“I had just got my coffee from the store around the corner and was walking back to the office. When I walked in to the office I saw a lot of people standing in front of Tom’s office. Tom has been the manager for a couple of years and doesn’t talk to a lot of people. There was a man wearing a red shirt and dark pants yelling at Tom. The man in the red shirt then threw a notebook at Tom. Tom is really a nice guy so I thought it was odd that someone was so mad at him.”
Notes: Entered office and saw man, red shirt dark pants yelling at Tom. Several people standing near office. Man threw notebook at Tom.
See this story on 11 Alive News. Founder and Instructor Tripp Mitchell is interviewed.
Member of the Guardstar Academy Staff. All Guardstar Academy staff are experienced law enforcement, security professionals and/or private investigators.