Graphic Facilitation

Are you familiar with graphic facilitation? Here’s everything you wanted to know (but were afraid to ask…)

What is it?

Graphic facilitation is a facilitation technique that uses the power of visuals to help groups of people literally see what they mean, clarify their thinking and make better informed decisions. It’s engaging, it’s powerful, and it’s very rewarding (for both the facilitator and the group).

How does it work?

Typically a facilitator stands front and centre of a room with a pre-drawn template (quite a big one! usually about 4ft high and 10-15ft long) . The facilitator leads the discussion, using feedback from the group to fill in the template with words and visuals.

[Please note, graphic facilitation is different to graphic recording. A graphic recorder typically works off to one side of the group, actively listening to what is being said and then drawing out the key nuggets of information that emerge from the group. A graphic recorder does not lead a group, he/she does not normally interact with the group hence different to a graphic facilitator.]

Where is it used?

In a whole range of different scenarios, including:

– strategic visioning and planning

– project management (e.g. sprint planning, sprint reviews etc.)

– focus groups

– team meetings

– brainstorming

‘Hi Emer, Thank you so much for the great day we had yesterday. It was amazing that people who had previously spent so little time together could achieve such a lot and create a shared vision in such a short time. I think you’re a terrific facilitator and I’m very glad indeed that you were there to guide us to such positive outcomes.’

Sue Irving, Chief Executive, | Dumfries & Galloway Citizens Advice Service

Why would I be interested in it?

The benefits are manifold…

– Increases participation and engagement

– Improves understanding and reduces confusion

– Decreases conflicts and misunderstanding

– Increases ownership of ideas (recording ideas verbatim helps people feel acknowledged and heard)

– Boosts learning for visual thinkers (over 80%) of people

– Leads to better decision making

– Is energising and fun!

‘Emer was suggested as a facilitator by a staff member who had been impressed with her work. We needed to bring together a number of new board members with our staff team to do a strategic look forward. There was real focus on what we needed to achieve but the day itself didn’t drag and was kept ‘strategic’. I would confidently recommend Emer to any organisation who wished to look at the core purpose or simply wanted to refresh their vision.’

Gavin Yeats, Chief Executive | Homeless Action Scotland

‘Emer ran a PATH [strategic visioning] session with us are we were delighted with the outcome. I think it succeeded partly due to the structure of the process, which encourages you to think imaginatively about where you want to be, and then to work out specific steps to get there. Emer’s skill in running the session was also vital – she is brilliant at creating the right atmosphere, guiding you through the process, and knowing when to prod and when to give you time think. For the first time, we now have a shared vision of where we want to be and what we’re going to do about it. And there’s no room for confusion, because it is written up on the wall. Emer is coming back in a few weeks to review our progress, which I’m sure will be another interesting and very valuable session.’
Paul O’Regan, Owner | Word of Mouth Communication, Edinburgh
‘Many thanks for a really useful planning day and a fantastic graphical depiction of our plans! It’s so much better than a dense list of tasks, scribbled notes or formal minutes and highlights so clearly how much work was done on the day by everyone. The PATH is now up in the office for all to see and be reminded of the tasks and the dream!  Claire has also done photos of parts of the plan (first steps, month, actions) and patched them together so everyone has a record of what needs doing over the next few weeks – there’s no escaping ‘the plan’!’
Gail Wilson, Manager | Update Disability Information Scotland (with Kate Chambers of KC Associates)

Curious to learn more? Have some questions? Contact me on +44 (131) 226 1637 or on