Graphic templates for meetings

Ever been to a meeting where you didn’t quite know what was going on?

Of if you did, you weren’t quite sure what actions were agreed?

Have you ever turned up to a large meeting not knowing exactly who was in the room?

Or perhaps you’ve had excellent, productive meetings only to forget what was said the next day.

Using a graphic template for your meeting is a great way to ensure clarity, comprehension and direction. It also helps to save time and increase efficiency, reducing the need for repetition.

After all meetings are expensive – it’s so important to make the most of the time spent in the room (or indeed virtually).

All you need to do is think of the key elements of any meeting.

In his excellent book, Visual Meetings, David Sibbet claims that the two things foremost in peoples’ minds when they go into a meeting is, ‘Who’s who in the room?’ and ‘What’s the purpose of this meeting?’, so that’s a good place to start.

Other elements may include:
– Agenda items
– Ground Rules
– Outcomes
– Agreed actions

Decide on an overall theme or metaphor and add simple graphics to make your template come to life.

Above is a digital mock up of a graphic template I used recently, based on ideas from The Grove Consultants.

What kind of graphic template would work for your meetings?

P.S. Places are already going fast for the next Secrets of Simple Graphics course on April 26th 2019. Secure your place now.

Case Study: Graphics and marketing

One of the great advantages of graphics are their use in a multitude of disciplines. This week we’re talking to Yekemi Otaru of YO! Marketing about how she uses graphics in her work with oil and gas companies.

Yekemi started YO! Marketing®, a strategic marketing consultancy, in July 2016, a time when the oil and gas industry faced major challenges.

At about that time, she came across the Secrets of Simple Graphics course in Edinburgh. Yekemi felt simple graphics were the ideal way to convey her business solution and the benefits to her target customers in a fresh, fun way.

Yekemi says, ‘I never thought of myself as an artist, graphic designer or illustrator so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the course. Emer’s laidback and engaging style really got me immersed in the training. She shared several uses of graphics such as facilitation and storytelling.’

As the training progressed, Yekemi started to see more ways she could use graphics with her existing clients and on her business blog. She found that graphical illustrations, when used to communicate ideas could be very powerful. And to her relief, it wasn’t about being an artist. As she says, ‘My objective is not to recreate the Mona Lisa. It is to communicate an idea through engaging visuals.’

Yekemi’s graphic illustrations have helped her to stand out with clients. She illustrates their market landscape, or how her solution could alleviate a current business challenge. It is a break from PowerPoint and she finds her clients appreciate the effort she puts in. ‘Clients love the drawings with some commenting that they’d like to frame my drawings. It’s a quick, visual reminder of our work together.’

Yekemi Otaru is a marketing strategist and published author. Based in Aberdeen, she owns YO! Marketing, a marketing and strategy consultancy that supports Technology SMEs and start-ups to attain their business growth goals through marketing.

Keen to follow in Yekemi’s footsteps? There are just a couple of places remaining for this month’s course in Bristol. Book your place now  for Secrets of Simple Graphics in Edinburgh on April 26th 2019 >>

P.S. Are you using graphics in your work? Would you like to be featured in a case study? Get in touch.

Case study: Graphics and social innovation

Case study: Graphics and social innovation

I’d like to introduce you to Jenni Inglis, MDes, MSc, FRSA. Jenni is Director of VIE (for Life) Ltd. VIE enables social purpose organisations to better involve their stakeholders in design and evaluation of initiatives in order to create more positive change. Jenni attended Secrets of Simple of Graphics back in January 2017.  Read about her experience – her reasons for attending the training, how she’s using graphics in her work now and what she has to say to people who are thinking about learning this skill.


Before Jenni attended Secrets of Simple Graphics in January 2017 she already used some graphics in her work as a facilitator. However she only used graphics she had prepared beforehand. Jenni felt this was limiting what she was doing. She has recently found herself working more and more with groups of people who might not get the most from spoken and written English. She felt that an increased use of graphics would help in these settings. The introduction session in the training helped Jenni to realise that she actually wanted to become more fluent in graphics, so that she could use them more spontaneously and draw graphics live in front of people.


Jenni found the training to be great practice in drawing graphics live in front of people. She thought it very well structured and full of tips and tools to improve the way she uses graphics. It enabled her to explore the use of graphics in different ways that she had not previously thought of (e.g. the difference between graphic recording and graphic facilitation) and to identify stretch targets for herself.


As Jenni says, ‘At the end of the course I had really caught the bug, in a good way!’. Jenni decided that she wanted to use graphics all the time in all her work – in presentations, in templates for individuals and groups, in capturing what people say, and when training – so that she could really become fluent, just like learning any language.  She gets a lot of positive feedback and the individuals and groups she works with are more engaged. To someone who is considering going on the training, Jenni says, ‘Do it! You’ll have a great day and learn a lot about how you can make your work more engaging through graphics.’ See below for a sample of Jenni’s work!              

Keen to catch the bug yourself? Book your place now for Secrets of Simple Graphics April 26th 2019

Explaining the power of simple graphics

Explaining the power of simple graphics

They say a picture paints a thousands words and naturally, I agree. As such I have created a one page graphic to explain what graphics are all about. I hope you like it. Feel free to print it out and/or share it with colleagues and associates who may be interested.

I also have a version in Spanish. Let me know if you’d like it and I’ll email you a copy.

Interested in creating your own one page graphic to explain your work? Join me for Secrets of Simple Graphics in Edinburgh on April 26th 2019.

The course can also be delivered in house. The exercise around creating a one page graphic is particularly powerful for building connection and understanding across teams. Do get in touch if you’d like more information.

What if people think my drawings are silly?

What if people think my drawings are silly?

One of the biggest concerns I encounter when I train people in graphics is the fear of what people will think.

What will people think? Will they think my drawings are silly?

Will people take me seriously if I go into a room and start drawing star people?

It’s maybe ok for within my team but there’s no way I’d use it with external stakeholders.

If you are wrestling with these concerns, you’re certainly not alone. Anytime we step out of our comfort zone our subconscious goes into overdrive telling us all the reasons why we should just keep doing things the way we’ve always done them. But where’s the fun in that?

I hope I can help in some way to assuage your fears or at the very least encourage you to feel the fear, and do it anyway.

1. The first thing to bear in mind is that graphics are for EVERYONE. When graphics are used, everybody benefits, not just artistic people, or visual people, or people in ‘creative industries’. We’re all human, suit or no suit, and the advantages of graphics apply to every one of us. Why should we deny others the advantages of this wonderful tool simply because we falsely assume they won’t get it?

2. Graphics are as much about mindset as they are about skill. If you enter a room convinced everyone will laugh at you and it’s going to be a disaster, then you’re setting yourself up for a stressful time. Try not to focus on what people will think (after all, we have no control over this). Focus instead on you, on what you think, how you feel about about graphics and this will come across to your audience.

4. Trying graphics with a new audience? Position your audience in advance. Explain what graphics is and how you’re going to use it. You will immediately grab people’s attention and rouse interest. And making mistakes is ok. We all do it. It’s what makes us human.

5. Remember the colour rules – black for icons, dark colours for text, use red sparingly. Use colour carefully to categorise themes and this will build confidence in knowing your work is easy on the eye and makes sense to your audience.

6. Find the biting point. If you keep telling yourself you need to practice before you do it live it’s quite likely you’ll never do it live. The key is to actually start doing graphics before you feel you’re ready. Find the balance between honing your skills and getting it perfect. Because it will never be perfect. That’s the biggest lesson of all. It’s something that can be difficult to get our heads around. It’s also wholly welcoming and refreshing.

Remember, what’s the worst that can happen? People laugh? (that’s called an icebreaker) The paper falls down off the wall? (again, icebreaker…of sorts) You trip over the flip chart with Bambi-style finesse and fall flat on your face? (it’s happened to the best of us).

Above all, don’t hide your talents. The world is waiting!