04/20/18
Graphic Facilitation
The First Time in Visually-Captured Meetings

I love facilitating meetings with visuals. Just like the first time my kids were enthralled by cirque du soleil, I enjoy seeing the looks on the faces of the audience members the first time they see meetings captured in graphics.

When I first saw it, I was also dumbfounded and impressed – preoccupied with the artist’s movement, but later I was enthralled by my fellow meeting attendees who were quite abruptly thinking more quickly and talking more frequently. (I know what you’re thinking. And the answer is “no.” I really can’t turn it off.)

Just by adding visual aids, people had voices, and at the end of the meeting there was a pleasant, colorful, friendly record that we had been there and that we even got stuff done.

We got stuff done. Hold the phone. In a meeting stuff was accomplished.

Cool, right?

What I Saw and What I Felt

Back to my first time as a meeting participant – these are the things I witnessed, and these are the things I felt.

I witnessed:

  • Introverts trying on extroverts’ shoes. Maybe it’s because scrutiny and judgment are less welcome there, but focusing on the pictures makes focusing on the participants less interesting. People who seldom speak were talking and contributing!
  • Laughter. Pictures lighten the mood and leave people wondering how the artist will represent what is said as the words are leaving the speaker’s mouth.
  • Focus. It’s so much easier to listen to what is being said when your head is up, looking at the facilitator and the visuals, than when you’re doodling on your notepad, counting the minutes until the strategy session is over.

I felt:

  • Heard. There was no danger of the facilitator writing down what she thought she heard me say. When my contribution was captured in pictures, it felt softer and kinder, with me caring less about accuracy and not preparing to defend myself in water cooler conversations.
  • Like part of a team. There was no list or outline of meeting notes. There was a big poster with key words and images. We all shared the meeting’s results without one person dominating the conversation or taking more credit than was warranted.
  • Energized. I could have done it again, but I was actually excited (yikes!) to get going on the commitments we made during that meeting.
Researching This Stuff

The research nerd in me was curious about who first captured ideas with real-time visuals and how I could proffer myself to sit at his (or her) lotus feet and learn this. In short, I learned that it started a couple of decades ago in California with founders of The Grove – a company that has grown rather large and that shares methods and materials with anyone who wants to learn. Here in DC, there’s a network of people who share information and abilities, and it grows stronger every year.

A New Discovery

Who knew a drawing could do this? I just remember the happy sensation of uncovering a new way to think and work. Visuals. Graphics. Pictures.

A few strategy sessions in, and I was amazed that anyone would even think to hold day-long, intense meetings without graphics. It’s like a Christmas tree without lights or a birthday party without cake.

Who would do such a thing?

If you’ve ever been to a meeting that was captured visually, comment below. What was most memorable for you? Did anything change in the way you process information?

The First Time in Visually-Captured Meetings