Graphic Facilitation is a particular facilitation technique that uses the power of visuals to help groups ‘see what they mean’. Typically a facilitator stands at the top of a room, filling in a pre-drawn template with words and images that represent what a group is expressing.
When it comes to graphic facilitation many myths abound. I’m here to bust the top three!
You have to be good at drawing to be a graphic facilitator.
This is absolutely not true. When it comes to graphic facilitation the art of facilitation itself is key. There are many people out there who are amazing artists and illustrators but don’t know the first thing about facilitation! With graphic facilitation the importance is on drawing out ideas and getting a message across; this often works best when the images are straightforward and easy to grasp. So you really really (honestly) do not have to be ‘good at drawing’ to be a graphic facilitator. Designing templates and drawing icons all come with practice.
Graphic facilitators always have their back to the wall.
This is another common myth that is simply untrue. A graphic facilitator pivots, turning both to the group to ask questions and facilitate discussion, and to the wall to capture the key points of what is being said. It takes a little practice, and works very well. It’s a good idea when facilitating to explain to the group at the beginning of the process that you will sometimes have your back to the wall, however you will be keenly listening to what is being said. Getting participants involved in the graphics and checking in regularly that you have accurately captured the discussion are two ways ensure the process works effectively.
(It’s also possible as a facilitator to team up with a graphic recorder – so one person is doing the facilitating and one person is recording what is being said.)
Graphic Facilitation doesn’t really make a difference
Au contraire! Over 80% of us are visual learners meaning we absorb information quickly and more easily when it is in a visual format. Graphic facilitation makes meetings more effective, reducing misunderstandings, diffusing tension and increasing participation and ownership of ideas. But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s the feedback Kate and I received when we facilitated a PATH (strategic visioning) session for Update Disability Information Scotland,
‘“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’!.”
Want more tips? Join me for Secrets of Simple Graphics open course in Edinburgh on September 5th 2017. Sign up here.