Secrets of Simple Graphics Open Course

Communicate with impact using the power of hand drawn visuals

A one day open course for trainers, facilitators and presenters

*New dates for 2019*

  April 26th, September 27th.


Are you :

  • fed up with the same old PowerPoint slides and boring flipcharts?
  • struggling to engage people at meetings and workshops?
  • finding it difficult to get buy in for your ideas?
  • drowned in a sea of meeting minutes, reports and complicated diagrams?

Would you like:happy

  • fresh, innovative ways to get your message across?
  • to improve communication and engagement with those around you?
  • quick, simple, effective ways to transform your meetings and workshops?
  • more light, energy and fun in your work?


It’s time to end ‘death by Powerpoint’!

Hand drawn visuals are a unique and captivating way to transform how you communicate with others. Here are just some of the benefits:

  • Your ideas communicated with clarity
  • Increased buy in of ideas (getting people on the same page, bringing people together)
  • Enhanced engagement and participation in your meetings and workshops pushpiece

  • Learning boosted for visual thinkers (over 80% of people)

  • Increased group memory

  • More colour, fun and energy in your work with groups

  • Written documents and reports livened up with custom illustrations
  • Standing out and getting noticed for what you do

‘The course was fantastic – really inspiring and instilled confidence that you can use graphics in your own workplace – no matter what your intended audience.’

Alison Marron, Solicitor | Scottish Legal Complaints Commission

Discover the secrets of simple graphics and learn…

  • The ‘building blocks’ of graphics – lettering, people, icons, text containers and more
  • The four main ways of working visuallyIMG_2488
  • The difference between graphic recording and graphic facilitation (and when to use each)
  • How to use ‘elements’ to create simple images quickly
  • Different visual formats
  • How to create a one page ‘push piece’ to use for training, meetings or events.
  • Tons of ideas for your next presentation, workshop or training session

‘Thanks again for undoubtedly the most fun CPD course I have ever attended! I really appreciated: that you got us all involved right from the start by asking us how the workshop should operate; the opportunity to practise new skills as we learned them; and to work together and share so much with fellow coursemates. I will most definitely be ‘borrowing’ facilitation ideas for the future too. The graphics library, skills and confidence developed in just one day will be put to good use in my role as training officer for Scotland’s Urban Past and in my volunteering activities. In fact, I’m on duty this week as run director at Victoria parkrun Glasgow and have made an ‘infodoodle’ to help our volunteer recruitment on Facebook and Twitter. Hopefully the runners and volunteers will understand and like it! All the best and many thanks again for a top day – I have rediscovered my drawing mojo!’

Dr Nicky Imrie, Training Officer | Scotland’s Urban Past 


Meet Your Trainer:

emer1-cutoutwarm200xAn enthusiastic trainer and graphic facilitator, Emer is passionate about using visuals in all aspects of her work to draw out ideas, boost learning, increase participation and support leadership.

She believes that the power of visuals helps not only to create an engaging and creative learning environment, but also helps groups and organisations get their message across in a captivating and effective way.

This really isn’t about art!

  • Absolutely anyone can build up the skills required to create graphics. It’s amazing how quickly confidence and ability increases once the foundations of good graphics are learned and practiced.
  • The training is inclusive, interactive and fun.
  • A safe and relaxed environment is created to support your learning and give you the opportunity to practice your new skills as you learn them.

No experience is required. If you haven’t drawn a stick man since you were in primary school that’s probably an advantage.

You don’t need to draw to do the course – it is totally true. At the start of the day no-one wanted to do anything on a flipchart but by 4pm the pens were not for being put down! Really useful tips and tools for using in work

Audrey MacNeill, Administrator | Kinharvie Institute

‘This workshop was fun, engaging and built confidence in my abilities to facilitate groups using graphics. I started the day convinced I couldn’t draw, but using the techniques, hint and tips Emer gave throughout the day I am now raring to go and run a session!’

Fiona Dee, Organisational Development Business Partner | Midlothian Council

  By the end of the course you will:

  • Be looking forward to trying out your new skills at the earliest opportunity
  • Feel confident about creating your own graphics
  • Understand how to use graphics in a variety of contexts
  • Have loads of ideas for your next presentation, meeting or workshop
  • Be hooked on the joys of working visually
  • Be excited about impressing your colleagues and associates with your new skills!

One of the best things about attending a course like this is the energy that is created in the room. Getting together with a diverse range of people and sharing ideas and learning in a creative environment is so valuable. You can’t get that from reading a book!


When and Where:

Friday, 26th April 2019 Edinburgh Conference and Training Venue, 16 St Mary’s Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1SU

Friday 27th September 2019 Edinburgh Conference and Training Venue, 16 St Mary’s Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1SU

The course runs from 10am – 4pm with 45 minutes for lunch. Your place includes a cooked breakfast of your choosing before the course starts plus a three course lunch and refreshments throughout the day. Vegan, vegetarian and other dietary options available.

Your investment:

£299 [Standard]

£259 [Early Bird]

*Bonus Gifts*

  1.  Brand new resource pack
  2. A set of Neuland refillable markers for each delegate
  3. 4 week online training follow up programme following the course (in association with Practify – online gamification training follow up tool!)

Please note, the course is limited to a maximum of 12 people in order to support an optimum learning environment.

What people are saying:

‘What an excellent course – Secrets of Simple graphics delivered by Emer in her own relaxed and easy style – great content. We put all we learned into practice straight away at our next board meeting – It was so good that two of our other directors are eager to sign up and learn the skills themselves – can’t recommend Emer and her training enough, fun and entertaining.

Cant draw, Won’t draw it doesn’t matter, Emer will show you that you can and by the end you will be drawing and sketching and note taking with new enthusiasm and insight. Excellent – Thanks Emer.’

Dave Fardoe, Managaing Director | Accordant Solutions

One of the best 1-day courses I have done in a long time.  Emer was very patient and created a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere – especially important for those of us that were nervous about drawing in-front of others.  I came away with a new enthusiasm for using graphics and have already started doodling on my to-do list.  Thanks Emer.

Kate Allen, Education Adviser | Scotdec

This course does exactly as Emer promises, it unlocks the secret to using graphics, and you don’t need to believe you can draw. Emer’s style is warm and engaging: she brought the group together from the off and I immediately felt safe enough to have a go at everything. The days builds element on element with solid advice, practical   demonstrations and every section has lots of time for learners to get hands on and put pen to paper, practising what you’ve just learnt alone or through really good group work.
A brilliantly enjoyable, experiential day in a very safe and clever pair of hands.

Mairead Turner | Freelance Trainer and Facilitator

Fun, energetic, well-paced, interactive with much supportive learning, Emer’s practical workshop has inspired me to unashamedly introduce graphics to my workshops.

Emer gently challenged and cajoled the lively group to try it out for ourselves and experiment with drawing and colouring techniques.  I also enjoyed taking away the Mindful Focus on Palm exercise which I have used with delegates since Emer’s workshop.

I felt Emer was very inclusive with the group and dealt with the more vocal delegates calmly, encouraging the quieter delegates to feel included and listened to.  I loved the simplicity of pen on paper and have noticed how effective that is becoming for me.

All in all, I recommend this workshop to inspire creative training; note taking and to challenge people to stretch out with those self-defined comfort zones!

Eimear Stassin, Training Consultant | Standard Life

‘What a great day.  The time chased by, from everyone feeling encouraged to feel we belonged here no matter our art experience, through the clear shape of the day and the “building blocks” of simple graphics, to “playtime” when we got to work on some themes individually and in teams.  I think we could have gone on for a few hours more.’

Geoffrey Baines | futurist.mentor.blogger.doodler

‘I’d highly recommend Emer’s Secrets of Simple Graphics workshop to anyone who has neglected their visual aids recently.  It was a fantastic, engaging and interactive workshop where we were encouraged to start drawing straight away.  Emer was so supportive – even when the drawing was really bad!  We had great fun, learned loads and the best part is that it’s so easy to start implementing straight away.  I’ve already improved the look of my flip charts and have a well-stocked tool kit of resources that I can tap into any time I want to use a visual.’

Jennifer Lindsay-Finan | Riverpark Learning and Development

‘I signed up at the last minute thinking it would be a good use of my CPD hours. I was blown away. The course way exceeded my expectations. Loads of creative ideas on how, when and where to use graphics in your work and lots of practise. Emer is a generous and insightful trainer. Loved the day.’

Alison Douglas | Training Consultant, Therapist, Coach 

‘It was good to have a highly participatory day on simple graphics and step right into things. Everyone was helped to understand the basics and to draw as we went along. From the first sketch of our heads to having time to draw large on a sizeable panel of paper to working with others on our final summary of the day, I would have to say that all round it was fun and a great first step to take those first steps into using it in our various contexts. I appreciated the way you led us, your insight and experience and huge encouragements to us on the day helped us all immensely in being more ready to give it a go!

Fyfe Blair, Minister | Church of Scotland

‘Thanks so much for a fantastic workshop – never has time flown so much on a training course before from having so much fun! All the exercises were really enjoyable and were a great way to try out using graphics and cartoons. I came away from the day with a lot more confidence for doing graphic facilitation and I am looking forward to putting my new skills into practice in the workplace.’

Sarah Taylor, Learning and Development Adviser | City of Edinburgh Council

Thank you for a really fun course, packed with tips. It was really well structured to enable participants of varying confidence to start or develop their visual practice. Now I’m using graphics much more fluently and frequently; on notes to myself, training materials, and everything in between.

Jenni Inglis, MD | VIE

‘A great course!  Despite my initial trepidation, I now feel more confident about using graphics with my clients.  Emer’s patience and pragmatism meant that all of us on the course learned a lot, were able to practice in a safe environment and now have the tools and techniques to apply our learning back in the “real world”.’

Rachel Letby | Crail Consulting

‘Came out of the Secrets of Simple Graphics course armed with a toolkit of ideas, suggestions and methods for facilitative drawing, to illustrate pretty much anything. A productive day, full of mutual friendship, encouragement and support.’

Christine Landsburgh, Citizen Advocacy Development Worker | Angus Independent Advocacy

‘I attended the Secrets of Simple Graphics workshop in August 2016 and I found it very enjoyable, informative and practical. I particularly liked Emer’s approach to training: she kept it simple, provided a good mixture of theory and practical exercises and offered helpful tips! (if you struggle to hang large pieces of paper on the wall I’d recommend you attend this course!). Emer challenged me to get out of my comfort zone in a safe and fun environment. I look forward to testing what I learned at the workshop in the real world! Thanks, Emer :-)!’

Patty Lozano-Casal, Evidence into Policy and Practice Manager | Evaluation Support Scotland

‘Great teacher, great insights, great skill development, great venue……..great fun!

Martin Bartholomew | Intercultural Trainer and Management Coach

‘I attended one of Emer’s Visual Graphics workshops in Edinburgh. My outlook on visuals has not been the same since then. Emer was amazing in helping me express complex ideas through simple graphics. You needn’t be a good drawer – Emer knows how you make you feel comfortable and creative. Visual graphics is a great way of moving away from PowerPoint, and injecting fun and engagement in meetings, workshops and idea generation. Emer helped me see that and I have been recommending her workshop to anyone that would listen!

Yekemi Otaru, Managing Director | YO! Marketing

‘Emer had clearly put a lot of thought into how to design and deliver this training course and it worked for me. I left with lots of ideas about how to improve my practice as a facilitator and the motivation to make them happen. Moreover, I think that I will enjoy making them happen too ‘

Alison Smith | Allanpark Consultants Ltd.

‘Emer was a fantastic facilitator. I really enjoyed the simplicity and practicality of this course and I’ve already integrated simple graphics into my work. Thank you!’

Darina Garland, Director | Suklaa, Oppi Festival and Uuni 

‘I really enjoyed the session: the creative activities, the facilitation style and the innovative and safe environment were just perfect! I also learned a lot of new techniques and loved the group exercises! The right balance between theory and practice!’

Giulia Lucchini, Learning and Development Adviser | City of Edinburgh Council

Before I started I couldn’t imagine coming up with the ideas of what to draw, let alone being able to draw them, and by the end of the course I was actually doing graphic facilitation!  I’m so glad I did this course.

Beth Yoder, Managing Partner | Global Teams

‘I had a lovely day and it was great to meet everyone I will take what I have learnt on Friday and I will be using it for a lot of my work . I am going to a meeting tomorrow afternoon and I will be using pictures, for my Minute taking. I have full intentions of using everything that I have learnt on Friday to take it forward with me.It was a great day and well worth the travel from here in the Highlands to learn what i did and how it will make my life a bit easier.

Shirley Hanley, Administrative Assistant, Self Directed Support |  NHS Highland 

‘The most fun I have had at a training event in as long as I can remember.  Not only that, I took away skills and activities that I could actively introduce into my presentations and group work with both young and older people.  Highly recommended for anyone looking to make their flip charts that bit more exciting!’

Ryan McKay, Old’s Cool Development Worker | Citadel Youth Centre

‘Thanks again for a great day, with a wonderful mix of challenges, guidance, encouragement and surprises (yes, I can do this!!).  So now, I have to try it out – first date already in diary for early September!

Liz MacDonald, Local Officer | Scottish Health Council Highland 

‘This is a very interactive course that stands alone in anything I have seen available in the world of graphics for the workplace.  For anyone looking to challenge typical meetings and the standard approach to recording information, this is for you!’

James Mair, Talent Development Consultant | Scottish Government

‘I really enjoyed this training day. I had hoped that it would educate me about how graphics could be used in my work, particularly with reference to illustrating reports and explaining data to mixed audiences and I was not disappointed. I left the course feeling more confident about how I could incorporate drawing and graphics into my work in different ways.’

Helen Rice | Researcher

‘I really enjoyed the course – it was fun, safe and inspiring.  I always enjoy exploring different facilitation techniques which can help me respond to and support people appropriately in new and interesting ways.  This course definitely added to my repertoire and it was wonderful to use a different bit of my brain! I have recommended the course to my colleagues and we might be looking for some in-house input one day.’

Martha Lester-Cribb, Evaluation Support Manager | Evaluation Support Scotland

‘Thank you for a valuable, fun filled and entertaining day. I have learned so much and will use my new found skills on a daily basis at work.  I am already thinking in pictures.  I would love to have spent longer with you and the group and I think you have a lot more to share.’

Lynne Brown, Revalidation Administrator | Forth Valley Royal Hospital

‘Was a great day of experiencing the joy and fun of incorporating graphics into my workaday environment. A breath of fresh air in a very word oriented world!’

Tony Young, Voices Scotland Trainer  | Chest, Heart, Stroke Scotland

‘I really enjoyed the chance to do something creative.  I have already mentioned the course to a few colleagues and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone.  Whilst I came along thinking mainly about using the techniques for facilitation or recording with project groups, I left with ideas around using graphics internally as a planning tool and to help inject energy to team meetings.  My daughter loved the star people I showed her and is now drawing them too.  The list is endless!’

Diane Wilson, Programme Development Officer | Voluntary Action Fund

‘Graphic Facilitation is a very engaging way to work with groups of people in a workshop or meeting setting. Emer O’Leary is a fantastic trainer who is very passionate about this. [….]. If you are considering Graphic Facilitation as an option I’d definitely recommend Emer as a trainer.’

Kathleen McLoughlin, Programme Manager Change & Development | The Improvement Service

Emer is great to work with. She has been delivering [Secrets of Simple Graphics] training for PBB Transformation since September 2015. This training involves the use of hand drawn graphics for facilitation and presentation purposes. We had identified a strong need to equip team members with new and innovative ways of communicating and presenting their work. Emer designed a course to perfectly meet these requirements. We get consistent positive feedback from delegates who enjoy both Emer’s facilitation style and the course content. Delegates get an opportunity to plan how to use graphics in their day to day communication. This has worked well in terms future planning and embedding the learning in the workplace. I would not hesitate to recommend Emer’s services for organisations seeking to explore visual ways of working.’

Andrea Mosey, Capability Manager, Transformation, PBB Services | Royal Bank of Scotland

‘I was introduced to Emer recently by a colleague who thought that Emer’s skills and energy would be a good match for my team and I. We invited Emer to run a taster session for us in graphic facilitation and we had fun, laughed, and not once did any of us feel we couldn’t draw! Emer immediately puts you at ease, introducing you to both herself and the topic in an engaging manner. Emer’s workshops are lively, interactive and build your skills as a group. The team left energised and I’m looking forward to seeing the results in training rooms soon! I look forward to working with Emer again soon. ‘

Jo Gausden, Head of International Learning and Development | Elavon Merchant Services

Cancellation policy: Places cancelled are not entitled to a refund, however may be transferred to another person from the same organisation or moved to a future course date. 

For more information or to book this course in-house for your organisation contact Emer directly on or on 0131 226 1637