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AI note-taking is unlocking new productivity gains for people and companies worldwide. AI makes note-taking easy, fast, and actionable.
At Xembly, we know all about AI note-taking. Every one of us employs our AI, Xena, each day to take our notes, manage our calendars, and execute on our to-do lists.
In this article, I’ll examine the crossovers between note-taking and AI, and where AI can add value. We’ll cover:
- What is AI note-taking?
- Classic approaches to note-taking and how AI can help
- Making AI notes actionable and useful
- The 4 key compounding benefits of AI note-taking
- Xembly turns AI note-taking into an AI chief of staff
What is AI note-taking?
AI note-taking is where software transcribes or produces notes on a given topic or subject. Or where the software assists a person in producing notes better or faster than before.
AI note-taking is not an AI doing the work for you; it's different to a lot of generative AI. It is related and uses generative elements but it is not asking an AI to write something for you.
It's using AI as a tool to assist you in writing and producing your own knowledge. It helps you to produce your own output or it can assist you to remember other knowledge and information.
What are the different types of AI note-taking?
There are lots of approaches to AI note taking because there are lots of different types of note-taking.
A student's notes in a lecture are different from accurate minutes in a corporate meeting.
These are two very different use cases, but overlap in how AI note-taking can assist in those situations.
One is note-taking for the individual's benefit and the other is taking notes for a group's benefit. I will spend time talking about both scenarios and how each can benefit.
AI note-taking in organizations is exciting because the benefits compound. It creates shared knowledge and opens up opportunities for greater transparency.
AI note-taking unlocks transparency and productivity
Ray Dalio, in his book Principles, talks about the importance of radical transparency. Dalio's company achieves radical transparency by recording everything and opening access. Every person in the company can watch the recording of a meeting between other people in the company. This transparency, Ray Dalio believes, helps create shared truth and shared principles.
We can find similar themes in Reed Hastings’ No Rules Rules - about company culture in Netflix. He talks about the importance of sharing financial data and promoting transparency.
Organizational transparency is a competitive advantage if you can leverage it. With the right AI note taker, it's easier to unlock.
Classic approaches to note-taking and how AI can help
AI note-taking might be new, but note taking isn't. There are lots of different versions of note taking. Some might be professional, some might be personal, some might be both. I'll look at four different approaches to note taking and how AI can help with them.
Classic note-taking #1: Shorthand and meeting minutes
Starting with the obvious: minute taking in company, nonprofit, or civil meetings. The note taker is trying to record what is being said factually and they're trying to do it quickly.
This is like how journalists take notes when conducting an interview or attending a press conference. People now often use recordings and transcribe them afterwards. But if you're trying to take notes live, you might use speed techniques like shorthand.
It's quite clear how AI helps with situations like this.
AI can record these transcriptions in real time with incredible accuracy. It isn't always perfect, but it is very accurate.
AI note-taking changes the game when it comes to taking minutes where you need to record accurate notes very quickly.
Of course, it's good to also have the audio recording so you can verify one against the other. This way, you can make sure the AI didn't make mistakes. That's one thing we do at Xembly: we make sure that you have access to both the audio and the transcription - just in case.
Classic note-taking #2: The Cornell method
The second method of note-taking is for individuals taking notes. One of the most common techniques for note taking is called the Cornell method.
"A study by Wichita State University in 2008 showed that when students switched to using Cornell Notes, on average their scores increased by 17%." - Educational Connections.
This is quite a simple concept.
You take a piece of paper and then you split it into different sections. At the top of the paper you have the title and an overview of the topic. In the left hand side column, you have big ideas, keywords, or questions. In the larger right hand side column, you put down bullet points, notes, shorthand, and more detail.
At the bottom of the page, in a shorter segment, you have the summary. This is the full width of the page and where you pull together your thoughts at the end.
The good thing about the Cornell method is you record lots of information, pre-structured. You've recorded information in varying levels of density; keywords, full sentences, and reflections. You've taken the time to pull the main ideas and include them at the bottom while they're still fresh in your head.
In the end, you have a useful one page overview for revising later or for sharing with others.
The Cornell method is very popular and there isn't an AI tool that explicitly achieves the Cornell method. But, you can feed that information back into an AI in a structured way because you separated the main ideas, keywords, big points, and conclusions. This means you can label them all as such when you feed it back into the AI to try to produce something out of it, to learn other things from it, or to get other things to research.
So in that way, the structured nature of the Cornell method is a very useful addition to note-taking.
Classic note-taking #3: The outline method
The third approach to note-taking is the outline method. The outline method is very similar to drawing up a bullet point list.
The benefit here, and what makes the outline method useful, is the structure of that list. In a normal word processor, you would use the tab key to indent and have sub bullet points. Under those sub bullet points, you can create other sub bullet points which form a tree of information.
In the outline method, you can go into great detail and great depth about a range of topics. It can exist as a structure that you come back to and fill out later.
The outline method is popular in a digital world because word processors make the outline structure quick to write and easy to edit.
The outline method feels digital-first now and is well equipped to link with AI. You can feed your bullet point tree into AI to produce an outcome. This is a great way of priming information for a generative AI tool to produce something larger with a bit of guidance and structure applied to it.
Classic note-taking #4: The boxing method
The final form of note-taking we'll look at is the boxing method.
The boxing method creates sections into which you will put notes. You create a new box each time a new big idea comes up - and then inside the box, you add details in bullet points.
Each big concept, topic, or area receives its own box and you put the notes inside for that topic or area. The advantage of the box method of note-taking is that it provides a visual overview of what is being discussed. It is, in some ways, the simplest form of mind mapping - a visual note organizing method, not a note writing method.
The boxing method is the simplest form of mind mapping in that it visually bunches information together to make it easier to understand.
The downside of the boxing method is that you might run out of space. You don't know how many boxes you need. Have you made the boxes big enough?
The boxing method is a better tool for revision notes than live note-taking. It allows you to collate information in simplified ways to make it easy to absorb.
That covers the four classic approaches to note-taking.
Next, we'll dive into how these approaches to note-taking tie in with AI and how we can use AI to make our notes more effective and more powerful.
Making AI notes actionable and useful
When it comes to integrating AI with note-taking, the benefits don’t stop at transcription. It's about leveraging these notes to improve productivity, information retrieval, and collaboration. Let's break down the advantages of making your AI notes actionable.
AI note-taking unlocks quicker actions post-meeting
One noticeable perk is time-saving. Normally you'd spend time transcribing, summarizing, and converting scribbled notes into tasks after the meeting. Or, you might never get round to it. With AI, those steps are completed automatically - and with Xembly the notes are shared with the team. The time you've saved can be redirected into action items.
Easy search and reference with digitized AI notes
With digitized AI notes, your notes are searchable automatically. You can easily find topics, statements, or decisions. It’s like having Google for all your personal thoughts or team's discussions. Finding information becomes more efficient and nothing gets lost.
Chat with your AI notes and generate content
Once you have your repository of meeting notes, you can upload your notes into another AI system and chat with them. Need clarification on a point? Ask. Use your notes as a foundation to generate a report or presentation. The possibility of turning notes into a more interactive experience can save time and improve output.
AI task automation with tools like Xembly
Integrating AI tools like Xembly can supercharge your productivity and uplevel your whole organization. Xembly doesn’t just give you transcriptions. It identifies potential tasks, todos, and opportunities to time-block slots in your calendar for each task. It’s like having a personal assistant for you or a chief of staff for your whole company. Sharing meeting notes with everyone also helps create shared truth across your organization, making everyone more effective.
By making AI notes actionable, you’re redefining the way work gets done.
The 4 key compounding benefits of AI note-taking
AI note-taking isn’t a one-off benefit - the value compounds with each meeting you have.
- Exponential Advantages: With every note you take, the benefits compound. As your database of notes grows, the knowledge you accumulate becomes a gold mine. Over time this collection can be used for analysis, research, and content generation.
- Deep Dive into Ideas: AI note-taking allows you to explore ideas with fewer distractions. You can maintain a flow of thoughts, allowing for better collaboration and exploration. Over multiple meetings, this could lead to better insights and conclusions.
- Theme Identification by AI: By scanning through months or years of notes, the AI can pull out recurring topics, ideas, or concerns. This feature helps you realize a pattern or trend in your thinking or in the topics discussed.
- Radical Transparency in Teams: The dynamics of a team improves when everyone has access to clear, concise, and accurate notes. There’s no "he said, she said." Every decision, every rationale, and every piece of feedback is visible, enabling radical transparency. This fosters trust and alignment which results in better future work.
The long-term compounding benefits of how we capture, process, and utilize information transforms note-taking from a mundane task into a strategic asset.
Xembly turns AI note-taking into an AI chief of staff
Xembly isn’t an AI note taker. In fact, that’s a small part of what Xembly does, or is capable of.
Xembly is an AI chief of staff - scheduling meet ups, attending your meetings, recording the notes, creating action items, assigning tasks, and helping team members manage their time so that work gets done.
Here are three advantages of using Xembly:
Smooth AI scheduling
Xembly enables 1:1 appointments and complex multi-person scheduling requests with ease. Whether it's via email, Slack, or a dedicated scheduling link, Xembly's AI aide, Xena, coordinates the details for you and your participants.
Accurate meeting documentation
Xembly documents the essential aspects of your meetings, leaving out anything unnecessary. It provides notes, recordings, and compiles video snippets of important segments. Whether meetings are remote, hybrid, or in-person, Xembly helps you focus on meaningful conversations.
Intelligent task oversight
Xembly’s Task Manager gives direction to your calendar through its auto-task monitoring and time allocation. With Xembly’s Task Manager, users experience a 26% uptick in task completion rates. It creates time for meeting tasks and shapes your timetable to help you get them done.
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