Skip to content

Collaborative note taking and debriefing

Note taking is a good way of keeping observers from the team engaged during the session and a joint debriefing can establish a consensus on what was said during the session so everyone walks away with the same conclusions.

Keep in mind, that observers aren’t always familiar with the format and don’t know what to look out for. Give them guidelines beforehand so they can come back with more useful observations

A good starting point for such guidelines:

  • Don't transcribe everything that's said during the interview, it takes away focus from observing and multiple people don't need to do that. Look for memorable quotes, key statements, and observations that you find related to the goal of the study, or simply find interesting.
  • Immerse yourself and experience what the user is experiencing. Don't tune out by doing something else on your laptop.
  • Always note down what actually happened and where
  • Note down the exact words the user said, or as close as possible
  • The most important thing to look out for is emotion, take notes on body language and facial expressions
  • Don’t interpret what you think is happening or tell stories — just write down what actually happened
  • Don’t come up with solutions right now

Make sure that you do your note taking in a shared document, in a format that fits how you want to process the notes. Here is a Miro template to get started. Assign a sticky note color to each observer, where they will take their notes.


Always book time straight after the interview to discuss the notes and observations with the observer team. Observations are forgotten and distorted quickly, so right after the interview with fresh memories is the only chance to do this effectively.

You can use the same Miro template that you used for note taking. Leave a couple of minutes in the beginning for observers to clean up and structure their notes, then do a basic Affinity Mapping exercise, simply grouping related stickies, discussing them, and drawing insights from groups of related notes. Repeat for each user you interview on the same Miro board to have an overview for all insights in one place.