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Who are the best DocumentorsMany people are unsure what a documentor should do and what characteristics truly describe 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:


Meeting Documentor

  1. Trained session leaders frequently make strong documentors. Supporting one another and experience numerous benefits from cross-training, especially for newer facilitators.
  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. And 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 a metaphor or analogy.
  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 MG RUSH  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.


    Don’t ruin your career or reputation with bad meetings. Register for a class or forward this to someone who should. Taught by world-class instructors, MG RUSH  professional facilitation curriculum focuses on practice. Each student thoroughly practices and rehearses tools, methods, and approaches throughout the week. While some call this immersion, we call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.

    Our courses also provide an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, and 40 CDUs from IIBA, as well as 3.2 CEUs for other professions. (See individual class descriptions for details.)

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Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, PSPO, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Facilitation Best Practices blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

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