One of the essential skills and core responsibility of a facilitator is to record the data and output gathered in the course of the discussion, and making sure that they are being acted upon. For recording and note-taking to be successfully done, the facilitator has to know and be clear about what needs to be recorded, how to record it, and who will perform the task. In most cases, the facilitator himself is the sole note-taker in a session. But depending on the kind of session that is facilitated, a note-taker can also be assigned for a better delegation of tasks.
When note-taking and gathering data in the process, it is important to make sure that the participants hear, see, and understand the information presented. The facilitator or the assigned note-taker must be accurate in the documentation of information and the activities. The words to use must be the words that the participants chose or the exact words that were used in the interaction.
When the group arrives at a decision and solutions to certain issues, make sure that all these are recorded. Check with the group periodically if the notes taken accurately reflected the discussion by summarizing it. In the conclusion of the event or program, a final recapitulation should be done to make sure that everything is covered and noted.
Assigning a Note-taker
One of the primary importance of taking notes or recording data is to document the issues discussed, action plans, decisions, and solutions agreed upon by the group so that in the future sessions, it will be easy to trace back on these points through the gathered notes. As earlier mentioned, a facilitator may assign a note-taker to do the role. This is very common in board meetings. For seminars and team building events, most of the time, the facilitator himself does the job. But in some cases, the aid of a note-taker will help the facilitator focus on the flow of the process and stay on track.
Based on the agenda items, the note-taker should list down all the discussions that took place in each item, including the pros and cons. This is basically what the facilitator does. If a particular subject matter was not properly addressed, the note-taker should get back to this issue during the recap so that the next steps or action plans by the group will be accurately recorded.
Making Use of Flip Charts
The facilitator can utilize a flip chart which remains a very effective tool in facilitation. As a visual aid, it does not just help reinforce key points but also essential in recording the ideas of the participants. In recording ideas on the flip chart, the facilitator must write down the exact words of the participants in an outline manner or key-wording approach. Use verbs and make sure the thought is complete to aptly express meaning. While talking, write at the same time to maintain a good pace. Do the same thing when a participant is presenting an idea. Use black or blue colors for your marker. For emphasis, red color will do. Write in large, readable letters so the last participant at the far end of the room can read it. To promote cooperation and confidence, allow the participants themselves to do the note-taking once in a while.
Effective Note-Taking Technique: Noting Key Words
For facilitators to stay neutral and will not appear like they are dominating the discussion, accurate note-taking and recording of ideas of what the participants say is very important. If the facilitator does too much editing on what has been said, the group will feel that he is taking control of the process. So, an important rule in recording ideas is to faithfully record the exact words of the members.
Skilled and experienced facilitators keep the statements and words concise when writing them down but choose key words from the entire context. Write down words that need emphasis. If participants find it hard to find the right words, offer to help and fill in the correct word with their approval.
Note-taking or recording of ideas may seem like a typical function, but it takes skill to effectively perform it, especially if you are facilitating a program or a meeting. Effective recording of ideas reflects a facilitator’s ability to be a keen observant and active listener as well.