It’s important to have a written record of what’s said in the conversation, so that these comments can be compiled into the report that will be given to politicians and others.
Here are some tips on doing this:
- You can’t write fast enough to get down everything that’s said, and it’s better that you don’t, because it needs to be briefer than that. But get down what you can, as accurately as you can.
- Don’t censor any comments you disagree with. This is a record of diverse views.
- Try to include things that make a participant’s contribution interesting, such as anecdotes, examples and distinctive words and phrases. Feel free to use quote marks to show verbatim quotes.
- Roughly indicate with ticks or numbers any verbal or non-verbal indications of agreement with the speaker. Then in your final version write this as a number in brackets at the end of a contribution. This will help the report writers to know which comments were more widely supported and they may emphasise these.
- Don’t include names or other identifying details of participants in the final version of your notes.
- It may help you to distinguish where one contribution finishes and another starts if you put a short horizontal line between them, or something similar.
- Note down what you say as a participant just as you would note down others’ comments.
- Go over your notes as soon as possible after the conversation finishes, while it is still fresh in your mind, with the facilitator (unless you are the facilitator). Make changes or additions as necessary, so that when you type it up you don’t have to rely on your memory.
- But pleased do type it up in the next day or two. Type in each question you ask in the main (B) section, and then type the notes about each contribution as a separate dot point under this. Then send these notes to OurDemocracy [add details of how].
- Some may wonder why these conversations are not being taped. The reasons are as follows. Taping a discussion can create a quite different atmosphere, one that may lead participants to talk much less freely. And if you tape it and then take notes from this, you will need to listen to the whole two-hour conversation again. What’s more, you may then replay sections to catch the details, and this could result in you submitting notes that are much longer and more detailed than are necessary or useful. These are notes from a conversation, not a complete record of it.