How to share notes in meetings with OneNote 2013
Taking notes in meetings is often over-looked, and the result is a waste of time and energy. It could be that everyone scrawls down their own version of notes as things go along, when they should be focused on what people are saying, or it could be that no-one takes notes at all - in which case you end with a great meeting but lots of missed action points.
Doesn't it make a lot more sense to use a single set of team notes, to which everyone in the group can contribute as much or as little as the situation requires?
Brainstorming together can be a powerful creative process, but with a shared note-taking solution it can also produce an effective and thorough set of notes at the end. The goals of a meeting can be pre-determined and set out for all attendees to see, and follow-up tasks can be clearly expressed and allocated to members of the group without confusion. OneNote 2013 makes these complex-sounding tasks as simple as sharing and typing.
To make use of any of Office's collaboration features, first you need to make sure the relevant notebook is stored in an accessible shared location, such as SkyDrive or SharePoint. If it's not already, then open the notebook, click File | Share and select the cloud location you wish to use, then move the notebook there.
OneNote will take a moment to sync the files from your local hard disk to the cloud, after which the notebook will be accessible by anyone with an internet connection and appropriate access rights - thanks to Office Web Apps they don't even need to have a copy of OneNote installed on their PC.
There's an important distinction to make before you go any further, which is that you are free to share any notebook that's necessary for your meeting - but be very aware that whatever you select, your colleagues will be able to see and edit. Rather than sharing personal notebooks that may contain sensitive or unrelated notes, it makes sense to have a shared team notebook that's dedicated to collaborative events such as this.
Once the necessary files are in a supported location, there are several ways to give other members access, depending on the meeting situation and environment. OneNote 2013 can communicate with Outlook 2013, so as long as you have a meeting arranged and the attendees invited, it's easy to add the necessary note-taking elements to the meeting before you begin.
In Outlook, go to the Meeting tab and click Meeting Notes - this will give you the option to take notes yourself or Share notes with the meeting. Select the share option and choose the relevant notebook page, then send out the meeting invite as normal. When it's time to start collaborating, the meeting notes page will have the time, location and any other invite details from Outlook already imported and kept up to date, and the participants will be listed below with checkboxes so you can easily track attendance.
On the other hand, if you're already in a meeting and want to share notes, you can do so from directly within OneNote. Click File | Share | Share with Meeting, then choose the existing meeting if it's there, or create a new Lync meeting if not - the link will be shared with all participants, complete with any files uploaded to the Lync meeting, ready for them to start collaborating.
Once that's all set up, it's business as usual. Those with OneNote installed have full access to its suite of effects and tools, including the ability to record contextual audio - the notes that are entered are connected to the audio being captured at that moment, making it easy to jump to relevant sections of a presentation or conversation long after the meeting itself has been forgotten. Those using the Office Web Apps have a reduced palette, but the core note-taking features are still present and correct.
Notes are associated with each user's Microsoft account, so it's easy to see at a glance who made which edits. It's also possible to search for all edits by a particular user. The collaboration occurs in as near to real-time as possible; the sync interval is shortened when OneNote detects that someone is editing the page to ensure changes are reflected almost immediately. If you find it's not updating quickly enough to follow along with the meeting itself, any attendee can press Shift+F9 to update their own page with the most recent group edits.
It's easy to see why OneNote 2013 is a natural extension to the familiar Office suite that can save time, increase productivity and make the often stressful and time-consuming experience of a team meeting more efficient for everyone involved.