Documentor Support

Who are the Best Documentors?

Many people are unsure what a documentor should do and what characteristics are needed for a good documentor.  A good documentor should be easy to work with, willing to keep quiet (ie, follow the role of content neutrality), have good handwriting, understand the situational terminology, be willing to work for you during the session, and understand the purpose and deliverable of the structured meeting notes.

 Good documentors can be found typically in three places:

  1. Trained session leaders frequently make strong documentors.  Supporting one another is also a good way for new session leaders to get cross-training.
  2. Project members from other, especially related projects.  These people understand the terminology and how notes get used (eg, input to requirements or design specs).  They must be chosen carefully because they need to remain quiet and cannot become involved with the discussions.
  3. New hire trainees or interns provide a win-win opportunity.  These people tend to work hard at being good documentors.  They frequently have enough background in terminology that they do not get lost in the discussions.

Be careful when selecting and training documentors.  Remember, if it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen!

How to Train Documentors?

The following steps provide a method for training documentors:

  1. Provide them a copy of your annotated agenda.  Walk through each of the agenda steps, their role, the volume of documentation you expect, and what to do with it.  Provide them with examples from prior workshops or deliverables to illustrate how their captured input will be used.  Examples can be from previous sessions or created by the session leader, preferably relying upon your metaphor.
  2. Documentors often feel intimidated when they see a bunch of templates and do not understand their purpose.  Explain the purpose of the deliverables from each question you intend to ask in the workshop.  Your FAST Reference Manual includes descriptions of the deliverables from each step in the workshop of the Cookbook Agendas.  Your note-taking tools should not get in the way of documentation.  Let them modify the format of note-taking if it is appropriate.
  3. Develop a picture of the final deliverable of the workshop.  You can use simple flow-chart or templates or arrows and icons to represent the final document structure.  This helps the documentor to move the note-taking out of the abstract into something concrete.
  4. Walk through the technique and methods with the documentor prior to the session to ensure that that their role is clearly understood—address any questions they have.
  5. Training does not end with the start of the workshop.  During the workshop, check with the documentor often to ensure that there are no problems and that the appropriate outputs are being properly documented.

For additional facilitative leadership support, see your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST Professional Facilitative Leadership training  session offered around the world (see for a current schedule).


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