Most creative people want to make stuff, not run the business side of things. Maybe this is familiar: you’ve launched your visual practice business (great!) and it’s been more than a year (congratulations!) and now maybe you’re wondering – how do I get more of the work I really want?
Therapy + visuals = art therapy. Education / studying + visuals = sketchnotes. Facilitation + visuals = graphic facilitation. Mediation + visuals = visual mediation. Visuals are expanding the edges of many fields. What else is possible with your unique background?
What combination of visual work is part of your practice right now? Maybe it’s 50% videos and 50% graphic recording, or 20% x five different kinds of creative projects. No problem.
Draw a circle and write down your work in the centre.
Then, draw out how you find new projects
You can recreate this diagram to help you understand how you are currently attracting opportunities. I think once you see things on paper, you can make strategic decisions.
Label the big areas around the circle. The categories are completely up to you. These ones are just to get you started.
For example, there’s word of mouth (yellow), referrals (green), or the internet (blue).
Then make your best guess on what the current percentage is that you’re relying on for each. If you think 50% of your new work comes from word of mouth, then in the middle circle, colour 50% of it yellow.
Finally: Action Planning
You’ve mapped the areas you want to focus on, now it’s time to grow the part you want, just a little.
Take a close look: what do you want to change in the centre? Imagine that the circle called ‘my work’ is a ring that could be moved around – maybe one year it’s all about the internet generating leads, and one year it’s about referrals from friends, colleagues, and your network. The circle can shift based on what works for you.
For example, to shift from more internet ‘leads’ to word of mouth work: reach out to existing clients with a newsletter, thank you note, or in-person meeting.
Basically, it’s about focussing your strategy. We all only have so much time – so it’s good to focus.
And from personal experience – don’t overlook the at-first-unpaid personal project that feeds you creatively. You never know where that will lead!
The graphic facilitation and graphic field is booming – are you getting the work you want?
Sophia Liang and Sam Bradd designed this course to teach what they wish someone had taught them when they started out as graphic facilitators.
Experts say, in order to scale or grow your business, practitioners need to do two things: be better, or be different. We’ll help you explore what expanding and diversifying your offering looks like for you. We’ll also offer models and tools for deepening your practice. And throughout, we’ll share how we got paid to do the work we love.
Designed for visual practitioners with a firm grasp on fundamentals, and a desire to stretch your potential. This fast-paced and participatory workshop includes two days of training and an evening opening session.
Every workshop is customized to meet participants’ goals. We’ll use storytelling, presentations, hands-on practice, group dialogue, and peer learning environment.
Passionate about continuous improvement and learning, Sophia and Sam bring facilitation techniques, a balance of theory and practice, years of business experience, and new visual tools to take your career to the next level.
Dates: Sunday, February 11th; Monday, February 12th; and Tuesday, February 13th, 2018 Times: (Sun) 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM; (Mon-Tues) 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM Opening Session details: We’re having dinner together on Sunday evening to open the workshop. It will be an opportunity to connect with the instructors, meet other visual practitioners, and share any questions. Then we dive right into training on Monday and Tuesday!
Hi! I’m Sophia Liang, the owner of Graphic Footprints a graphic recording and facilitation company in Los Angeles, California.
I’m passionate about people and enabling sustainable communications within teams and inside organizations by utilizing the power of visual communication. I have an extensive background in designing experiential learning events with a focus on creating moments that matter.
I’ve been fortunate to work with amazing clients, including Fortune 500 companies such as Walt Disney Imagineering, Dolby Labs, Google, and Genentech, as well as both not-for-profit organizations and government agencies. I am a part of The Grove Consulting associate network (one of the original graphic facilitation firms, based in San Francisco, California) and have a Bachelor of Arts from University of California, Berkley. I have taught multiple graphic recording/facilitation workshops at the International Forum of Visual Practitionersand International Association of Facilitators annual conferences over the past years.
When I’m not traveling for work, I enjoy salsa and west coast swing dancing, and cooking in my home in Los Angeles.
HI, I’m Sam Bradd. I’m a graphic facilitator and specialist in information design. I use visuals to help groups be better at what they do. In the last 15 years, I’ve traveled the globe collaborating with the World Health Organization, Fortune 500 companies, Google, and Indigenous organizations.
I specialize in turning dense information into images: visual strategic planning, graphic recording, infographics, knowledge translation, and engagement.I’m the editor of two new books: Drawn Together Through Visual Practice (2016) and Graphic History Collective. My formal education includes a Masters in Education (University of British Columbia), a Bachelor of Arts (Simon Fraser University), facilitation training, and courses in design, human rights monitoring and Indigenous cultural competency. In the community, I’m an active member of the International Forum of Visual Practitioners.
Kelvy Bird and Alfredo Carlo will be teaching a Visual Practice Workshop at the same venue, February 14 – 17, 2018. The “art of scribing” is taught to bridge the ecological, social, and spiritual divides we experience in our world today. Join us the same week in the same venue. We will be coordinating so participants can attend both workshops. If you sign up for The Visual Practice Workshop as well as Towards Mastery, you will receive a 5% discount on Towards Mastery. (PS: Sam and Sophia are attending this workshop!)
The registration fee includes: supplies, course materials, lunch and two snack breaks each day. Breakfasts and dinners would be self-organized. Participants are also responsible for their own transportation and hotel accomodations.
Refund Policy The amount paid minus a $350 processing fee will be refunded for all cancellations received in writing before January 14, 2018. No refunds will be granted for cancellations received after that time, but registrations can be transferred to other participants at no additional cost.
More questions? For more information, contact Sam at email@example.com.
It’s time for the annual wrap-up from some of my closest graphic facilitation and graphic recording colleagues.
Last year, we shared what we noticed about about human nature or communication (because we’re at hundreds of meetings!). This year, the questions are a little harder. Consider the work of visual practitioners we admire: how do they work? What are they doing differently? What do we notice? Secondly, what’s the one thing the field of visual practice needs to do next – but is avoiding?
Here’s why these questions are important.
When people see a beautiful graphic recording image, they’ll often say to us, “that’s so pretty”. Which is very kind, but at the same time – what if it’s a pretty picture of the wrong conversation?
The visual practice field has matured enough to look beyond the “pretty” in our work. It’s great to congratulate each other on a job well done, but we also need to make more room for the critical, the intangible, and the process behind our work – as a way for our industry to challenge itself and effectively grow. Making space for this conversation will help us meet our challenges head-on. Let’s talk about process and not just the end product.
This year’s questions were inspired by Julie Gieseke and Anthony Weeks, and I’m looking forward to hearing your additions in the comments.
CONSTANTLY ASSESS VALUE
“I admire practitioners who are working on bringing visual tools and methods to industries and fields that we don’t (yet) think of as visual to transform how work gets done.
“I see that the field needs to be less self congratulatory. Not all graphic Recording is helpful or “amazing”! We need to really ask how and where we can really bring value to clients.”
“I admire practitioners who are delving deeper into their practice, asking hard questions about the value of our work, what it means to partner effectively with our clients, how our work fits into large frameworks of complexity and systems thinking, and how we can truly serve organizational and social transformation. These are the questions that are working me right now, and I gain nourishment from others who are further along the road that I am.”
“Professionalism is important in our field — professionalism in how we position graphic facilitation / recording, in how we present ourselves at events, and in how we contract / license our work. Another layer to this is encouraging each other to develop expertise in certain industries, types of events, or formats.
“I admire colleagues who are carving out niches and exploring new ways of applying graphics rather than one-size-fits-all. This pushes our industry to innovate and evolve!”
“As the field expands I admire professionals who are strategic about what organizations they reduce rates for, particularly those thinking of what they want to do in their own future work. There should always be a rationale for a rate lower than the local average.
“I see that the field needs to really encourage creative new approaches, dialogic processes, methods, materials and facilitators from new places, so that distinctiveness of each of our works is a priority. We ourselves need to de-privilege the pretty and embrace the ugly so that our clients are more likely to.”
“I admire practitioners who put listening, service, synthesis, and clarity at the center of their work. Yes, I love beauty. Yes, I love imagination. Yes, I love technical proficiency in drawing…AND it’s NOT all about the beauty of the picture or image. It’s about the utility and meaning-making of the image. The field, as a whole, needs to get more honest about what we value.”
ENVISION NEW USES AND SETTINGS FOR GRAPHIC FACILITATION
“I admire practitioners who are delving into new areas that can benefit from graphic facilitation. For example, I’ve seen some interesting work with family mediation, mapping a personal journey, life coaching, and working with at-risk youth. There are so many ways that we can inject some creativity and connectedness within these conversations, and I think the opportunities are endless.”
“I admire the practitioners who have long-term relationships with trusted clients, and want to see the field grow in this direction. Not all visual practitioners are interchangeable – and we shouldn’t pretend we are, even if our handwriting matches. When we reach out for feedback about the images from the group and don’t hear anything – or if they just say things look ‘amazing’ – what we’re missing is trust. Everything changes for the better when it’s a two-way relationship.”
“I admire practitioners who are working on the legitimization for our profession. We provide a valuable service that clients are still learning to discern. Educating our clients about the value we bring to groups can be challenging and the more white papers, studies, and well-researched and thought out articles help justify why every meeting should include a visual practitioner. Developing the science and “academics” behind it is a step towards true legitimization and I am deeply grateful to those individuals.”
“I admire practitioners who engage in self reflection to deepen, stretch and improve their work on all levels. Not just drawing & lettering, but in their listening, in being present, in questioning their assumptions and biases. And in showing up authentically, being open to learning.”
“In our fast-paced, complex world, it’s no coincidence the field of visual practitioners has grown. Something we’re avoiding is finding our story as a collective visual field. What’s our vision? What values do we share? Should EUVIZ and IFVP join forces? As a Professional Coach, a similar conversation happened that resulted in the creation of the International Coaching Federation. I hope our visual field can find our collective vision too.”
“I admire people who are thought partners for their clients and consider themselves designers that deliver an experience, as opposed to a vendor that delivers a service. I also admire people who are looking at the outer edges of our practice and thinking about what’s next for us as a field, particularly with the rapid advent of tech tools (Jamboard by Google, hand drawn sketch animation software, drag and drop apps, etc.) that will inevitably “replace” some of the work we do.
“I would like to see our field place equal collective value on work that demonstrates deep listening in service to a group and its process as it does on highly illustrative drawing.”
Let’s continue these conversations into 2018, not just online but also in real life! Two ways we can do this are: meet up with me at the EuViz conference in Denmark this July 31 – August 2, 2018, or consider joining Sophia Liang and I for the Beyond the Basics workshop February 11 – 13, 2018 in Portland.
In the meantime, a happy and healthy holiday time to you and yours!
I recently had the privilege and pleasure to work with the Nanaimo & Ladysmith School Board during a conversation about Reconciliation. Graphic facilitation can help support open discussion around challenging issues, and organizations can use it as a methodology to affect meaningful change – just like the transformative Kairos Blanket Exercise and four other tools below.
The school board invited a wide range of Indigenous organizations and partners together to facilitate a discussion about their education system. The Kairos Blanket Exercise is a powerful tool that places participants in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous roles, in relation to the history of colonization. It encourages understanding, honest communication, and builds meaningful action.
There’s a saying I’ve heard about working with issues of Reconciliation: we can’t have “Reconciliation” before we have Truth. And this means taking a look at history, first, and wrestling with the many truths of the ongoing impact of colonization on Turtle Island.
As visual practitioners, we listen and draw to connect conversations and issues, so self-reflection is important if we use time-saving symbols to stand-in for concepts. Taking a moment to examine whether these symbols actually represent a cultural generalization that could be seen as disrespectful, is an important part of our practice to reflect on and be sensitive to. While working, we need to make choices – one of the most important of these choices is to not fall back on Whiteness as the default with which to mark difference against. A familiar way of drawing may not necessarily be the best choice. Being open to change, and working with humility are all key to helping personally participate in the transformation we want to see.
Another way we can inform our practice with more cultural humility is by continuing educating ourselves on current issues, and the myriad of resources that are available to share. Here are just a few for you to consider:
Crystal Fraser and Sara Komarnisky created a powerful list of 150 Acts of Reconciliation, to be practiced during the last 150 days of 2017. The year is not over yet, and this list is an important call to action, giving small steps towards action and learning that can build to create difference. The conversations around reconciliation still have great distances to go, and this list can help people to think about Indigenous-settler relationships as they exist in our everyday lives.
Crystal and Sara have built on #150acts by collaborating to create an incredible poster series that I encourage you to take a look at, with design and art by Yukon artist Lianne Marie Leda Charlie who is Tagé Cho Hudän | Big River People (Northern Tutchone).
The San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training website is also one of the leading resources in Canada. It includes the Indigenous Cultural Safety (ICS) Online Training Program, which educates participants about anti-Indigenous racism, enhances self-awareness, and strengthens skills for professionals working directly or indirectly with Indigenous people.
Cultural Safety and working towards ending anti-Indigenous racism are important tools for me as a settler as I work with Indigenous organizations and community groups. It’s important to reflect on how my work is representative of the people with whom I’m collaborating, and that I am more aware of the visual choices I make in each session. I encourage all non-Indigenous illustrators, graphic facilitators and graphic recorders interested in being a better partner to Indigenous communities where they live and work to look at what core competencies might be useful to this work – you can read more in my four part blog series here – and in my collaborative book, Drawn Together Through Visual Practice.
Teams, teaching, travel, and a new reflection tool – it’s been a busy Fall 2017! I’m feeling so inspired by the incredible organizations and people I’ve worked with recently, and wanted to share some of the techniques we used together. There’s a variety of approaches one can use to lead visually: from graphic recording for public engagements, to engaging groups with graphic facilitation, to modelling visual thinking tools, and knowledge translation with illustration.
TEACHING VISUAL FACILITATION
Drawing Well is online! Drawing Well is a new tool for visual practitioners and facilitators, and we put an excerpt online from our book – Sam Bradd & Jennifer Shepard – Drawn Together Through Visual Practice – 64 Questions to help reflect and transform how well you draw. Consider it an early holiday gift from us to you.
Drawing Change held a two-day graphic recording and graphic facilitation workshop, helping people think and draw through complexity. Participants came from across three countries to engage and inspire each other.
There is a real struggle out there to be able to tap into, and sustain, our personal creativity in our professional lives – if you are able to know how to USE your creativity on a daily basis and know how to access it, consider yourself very lucky. Many people wrestle with how to find it when they need it. It might be 5% inspiration/95% perspiration, but it’s still something I trust I can rely on.
The best part of teaching – learning alongside each other. I personally learned new facilitation metaphors from the participants that were applicable to diverse work and contexts: e.g. a strategic planning template that used Indigenous beadwork designs to structure the page (way to go Jeska Slater). Big thanks to Avril Orloff, Yolanda Liman and Michelle Buchholz for leading sessions, too.
Want to join us next time?
I’m keeping a wait list for the next intro workshop in Spring 2018.
I was happy to return to Geneva for this project. Over a few days, we worked deeply on important curriculum involving infectious diseases and epidemics. The thing about public health is that winning means…nothing happens! You can view this curriculum by signing up for the free Open MOOC courses online.
We travelled to Kamloops to participate in two days of graphic facilitation with the National Indigenous Fisheries Institute. The images/posters from this meeting are great examples of how you can use a visual language the client already understands, to further illustrate your key points. In this case, the lifecycles of the salmon were a useful way to explain the categories of our discussions:
The second image, below, is a poster mapping what services exist, and then the identification of funding opportunities. The conversation was grounded in land – where all wealth (money and not-money) comes from.
This symposium used graphic recording to distill a large amount of complex, highly specific information, and the large volume of slides meant we needed a super organized graphic recording layout. Lucky for us, cartoons are popular in Brussels, so our scientific drawings were well-received!
Anti-racism and reconciliation is the biggest conversation we need to have in Canada. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to keep learning and to be willing to make mistakes, and keep trying; otherwise, nothing is going to change fast enough. We all need to create the conditions where people are willing to ask questions, feel secure enough to ask for help, and keep building relationships. That’s how we’re going to work towards implementing the Calls to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation report.
“We’ve been holding our breath for generations – we need results.”
Quotes like this go right to the heart, and I hope the decision-makers are listening.
During a discussion about anti-Indigenous racism and reconciliation, I heard and drew this image above, as a reference to her ancestors giving the woman strength through her hands and looking forward.
The illustration below comes from our discussions held at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. Many museums across the country, and internationally, have made great changes in how they collaborate with, and are inclusive to, originating communities – particularly in regards to access and repatriation of Indigenous artworks and objects from their collections. As places of learning, they can expand the public memory, bring in diverse voices, and incorporate new ways of seeing into discussions that can affect our world.
This was a team graphic facilitation project, and is one of my favourite types of projects. We were a team of 10 scribes to help debrief small groups, and engage them as their facilitator. Our first task was to help groups identify the key learnings from their program, and then our second task was to create a visual take-away from what they were going to do next as leaders. The graphic facilitation makes sense of rich and complex information.
As a practitioner, it’s fun to work in a big team. Here you can see the same title done six different ways. My submissions are the top right and bottom left. Often we do this work solo, and reflection is a key part of delivering clear and useful results, like a good editor pointing out what works and what can be taken away. After we finished our work, and went for dinner – three of us came back and did our own little “gallery walk” of what we appreciated of our colleagues’ work!
Here we used journey mapping around substance abuse, as a tool to effectively explore and understand the Indigenous peer and health care provider lived experience around the opioid crisis in B.C. Facilitators led small and large groups through a mapping process, which resulted in the post-it notes below.
This project was all about layering in the information: it went from journey mapping to graphic recording, and as a next step all of this information is going to inform some very polished, digital infographics.
This design thinking workshop at the Digital Youth Summit, was particularly rewarding as we engaged with an almost-full room of women in tech! Incredible. Young people inventing, designing, and making their own dream jobs.
We used templates for the group work, which I”ve written about before – so I’ll share a tip for capturing short, 6 – 8 minute presentations:
Draw one anchor image + key phrases for what the problem is + end with their unique solution.
Don’t try to explain all the details about the problem they’re trying to solve.
Make sure you leave space for what their big idea is – even if it comes at the end of what the speaker is saying.
Victoria, B.C. – Team Visioning Event
This was a team visioning evening event with Colleen Stephenson, Tanya Gadsby, and Minh Ngo. It was an evening meeting – so it had to be super interactive. This is what we did:
After an opening activity that generated wide, broad ideas, we each took a small group for live graphic facilitation.
Each group focussed on one topic, so we could go deeper into four topics. Then the fun part –
As participants had dinner, the four of us got to work synthesizing and making connections from all the data and drew out a big group summary poster in 2 hours (!), and presented it at the end of the night – total success!
I have a few more things to wrap before the end of 2017 … stay tuned for the return of “reflections from the field” from visual facilitation colleagues, too.
Hello! We’re Jennifer Shepherd and Sam Bradd. We’re visual practitioners, educators and facilitators. We live across the country from each other in Canada, and have collaborated on a range of writing projects about visual practice in the last few years. This tool below is an excerpt from a chapter you’ll find in our co-edited anthology Drawn Together Through Visual Practice, published in 2016.
We hope you’ll put it in your visual practice kit and pull it out many times as you choose to reflect in mini moments that transform how well you draw.
We’re both committed to reflection as an integral part of our visual practice. As we make time to reflect, our active curiosity calls us to explore:
What more can we know about ourselves?
What new possibilities for action do we see?
How can we share what we’ve learned with others?
We’d love to learn from you, too.
How ready are you to draw?
How does the way you show up impact the quality and sensitivity of the drawings you make?
Picture it: there’s a clean slate of white space in front of you. You’ve got your markers or tablet all juiced up and the meeting is about to begin. You take a breath, look around, and ask: where am I in this picture?
Wherever you find yourself, we invite you to ask a second question,
What deep and careful reflection could I choose now to listen and draw at my best?
This small moment to pause has the potential to make a big difference – in our creativity, in our relationship with our clients and participants, and how we expand the field of visual practice.
We believe that taking mini moments to pause and reflect can transform how we draw and radically improve the value of what we do as visual practitioners.
And that is the premise of this Question Well tool. When we reflect in the moment, or on a moment from the past, we extend our awareness and care and create openings to expand our competence. This is true regardless of whether we hold a ready pen, offer input or bear witness to another’s creatives process or interpret a completed work.
We invite you – our colleagues, clients, and facilitation partners – to notice areas for reflection in your own practice, wherever that might be. When you’re ready to take a mini moment, dive with us into this rich well of questions and see what emerges!
What you’ll find in the Question Well tool:
We introduce a new model for reflection that is unique to graphic facilitation and visual practitioners. What other models come to mind?
We share the Question Well with 64 questions and 9 areas of focus. What new questions would you add?
We intersperse anecdotes from our story as practitioners into the Question Well, and invite you to think about your story.
We suggest ways to use the questions.
Let’s jump in.
Introducing a New Model for Reflection
There are many dynamics and relationships that are worthy of reflection during visual facilitation. Here’s a diagram that illustrates what we mean.
In this mini book, you’ll see questions in the Question Well organized into 9 areas of focus – one for each of the connections shown in the diagram.
We have crafted 64 questions to support your reflection. We’ve organize them in 9 areas of focus to help you navigate your way through the Question Well.
We offer these questions for how to use this chapter as a kind of personal workbook:
Reflect on your own, or gather with peers, clients, and others
Read the questions aloud, pause, and notice what answers arise
Phone a colleague and have a conversation
Write a journal entry and see what emerges
Bring your thoughts forward to the field of visual practice online or at a conference
We offer these methods as wisdom from our shared experience as a gift to the visual practice field. We’ve tried them all, and they work! These are only a start. Now, it’s your turn. We invite you to share your own questions on the Drawn Together Through Visual Practice website, too.
About the Authors
Jennifer Shepherd inspires well-intentioned and overwhelmed leaders to gain the clarity they need to create insightful connections and make their next move. She has oodles of facilitation and collaborative change experience working with local communities, regional networks and national networks from housing to hockey. She is known for asking questions that prompt us to ask more questions, draw together, and solve the complex puzzles of our time. Jennifer is an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator who loves to drum and walk the world in wonder. Contact her at www.livingtapestries.ca
Sam Bradd is a graphic facilitator and specialist in information design. He uses visuals for people that want to engage, solve problems, and lead. Together, we’re Drawing Change. In the last 15 years, Sam has collaborated with the World Health Organization, Google, Indigenous organizations, and researchers on four continents. In 2016, his side project the award-winning Graphic History Collective published a book of comics because how we tell histories can change the world. He has a Masters in Educational Studies (University of British Columbia). Contact him at www.drawingchange.com.
Read more in Drawn Together Through Visual Practice
This Question Well tool is part of a larger book, Drawn Together Through Visual Practice. It is edited by Brandy Agerbeck, Kelvy Bird, Sam Bradd and Jennifer Shepherd and was published in 2016. This anthology demonstrates the power of visuals as a sensemaking device in an age of unprecedented complexity. It is available on Amazon.com in book and Kindle formats.
It was a great phone call to receive: would Drawing Change like to coordinate a team of 8 graphic recorders, to capture 54 sessions over 2 days with 2,500 business leaders from more than 100 countries. Absolutely! If you ever get a call like this, – or are hiring a large graphic recording team – here’s what you need to know.
To pull this off, the team consisted of 8 graphic recorders, 1 photographer, 2 graphic designers, and 1 project manager.
Most graphic recorders work alone, so when we get to work as part of teams it’s truly inspiring. Our drawings and lettering influence each other, we push each other to excel, and we also share in collective success. It’s an arena like no other.
We learned a great deal from this event. We learned what it takes to run a successful large-scale graphic recording team. We learned how to cultivate high performing team relationships. And most importantly, we got the team to give us their take on what made it successful. Here’s what you need to know.
Pre-event organization and planning are key
You might think you can graphic record while coordinating a team, but having a project manager was crucial to this event’s success. The project manager effortlessly ensured the pre-planning, on-site organization, and the team support was in place – something that was crucial to a smooth and successful event.
“Having [someone to] manage all the advance communication is helpful. It gives a chance for everyone to get to know the coordinator prior to the event and give the right amount of info at the right time in the friendliest way.” – Lisa Arora
The project manager “quickly became an indispensable part of the team, event before we arrived onsite. Having her manage the many moving parts allowed Sam to work more closely with the client and with the logistics crew.” – Anthony Weeks
Avril Orloff says, “all the background maneuverings … make a big event like this successful!”
Phone people. Give your team information weeks ahead of time. By creating an opportunity to create dialogue and answer any questions that come up, it will help define the purpose and scope of the project. Photographers, graphic designers and even graphic recorders may not have done a project like this before.
Book a green room for the team. We needed room to finalize and colour posters, shoot the photos, and for the graphic designers to share a desk. Make sure the client puts the green room close to the stage – and not in the hotel across the street.
Space and easels: Some logistics we learned on the fly include factoring how long it will take to cross a big convention centre. Also, make sure each breakout session has its own easels set up the morning of the event, instead of carrying easels back and forth. We learned this one the hard way.
Shipping is more complicated to a convention centre than hotels or other venues. Convention centre delivery is expensive – you’ll be charged labour fees to move boxes, and it will be handled by a third party with their own cut-off delivery deadlines. Get on top of this early. Make friends with the account manager by phone and be clear about how the final posters/boards are going to be shipped home. Figuring this stuff out before the event will make everything so much smoother! We promise!
Be clear on what time teams should arrive. With a high pressure agenda, we all arrived 2 hours early the first day, and Sam and the project manager stayed at the hotel so there would be no travel issues.
Create space for team development
“Treating the team to dinner the night before was such an unexpected treat and a classy move. Also a great chance to deal with questions so you weren’t overloaded with them the next morning.” –Lisa Arora
Organize a team dinner the night before to introduce the members of the team and create space to answer questions. It will support team cohesion, communication, and will resolve any conflicts before the day of the event. There will always be way more questions – the more people, the more questions!
Approach the day like a team, not solo artists.It’s a balance of letting talented graphic recorders work their magic, and also giving some constraints on creativity. This project needed final files back by 8pm the day of the session. The team approach meant people prepped titles for each other, helped with colouring and “polishing” the charts – instead of it being a race to who would finish first.
For out of town graphic recorders, make sure their needs are met.
Include the non-graphic recorders in your team building! This way when the graphic recorder asks the photographer to boost the contrasts, it will be a friendly request.
Make time for 1:1 conversations with each team member during the day.
Happy teams are well fed and caffeinated.Have a plan for where staff eat lunches, snacks, and coffee. Don’t assume staff or vendors can help themselves to the attendees’ buffet – no matter how convenient it is outside the door.
By ensuring each person on the team is well connected, well fed, and generally well taken care of, you’ll have the right conditions for success.
Consider having a “backup listener”
When there is so much happening, it’s easy to lose track of the information coming from the stage. With so many graphic recorders on hand, we could have added a backup listener to each session. In hindsight, having a backup listener would have been extra helpful for such large event. This is especially useful when any posters have incomplete content.
With something of this scale, it is normal to not know what we don’t know. We learned having an extra set of ears to take notes and add content in the polishing stage can be extra helpful. (Thanks to Lisa Arora for the tip!)
There was no possible gift we could have bought this client to say thank you – so instead, we made something priceless: a summary poster for Day 1 and a summary poster for Day 2.
When the graphic recording team had a few seconds during the day, we added quick highlights from the 54 keynote presentations into a summary poster. We presented the first poster at the end of day 1, and the client spontaneously burst into happy tears. It really inspired us to up our skills for the Day 2 poster, too. Her gratitude was a huge gift back to us.
Be someone your client wants to work with by bringing delight.
Leadership qualities on the day of the event
Leadership involves many qualities, and every leader will be nuanced in their style. That said, here’s a few things that helped.
Don’t be a micro-manager. Don’t tell professionals what to draw, but do tell them what you need. ”This took off a lot of tension from us (at least me) because we were all a bit nervous. It basically said “I trust you, I know you’ll do your best, I’m not going to try and control that.” You rolled with it and that made us roll with it too, and I loved how everyone pitched in.” –Yolanda Liman
Be calm. I’m not sure I was calm, but I fake it. “I was impressed most by your calmness under pressure and trusting all of us to be where we’re meant to be on time. By no means an “easy” task with an ever-changing schedule in the mix!” –Tanya Gadsby
Be professional and authentic when people need to step up to a challenge.“I loved it when you said “I need all of you to move about 50% faster starting now”. You called us to bring our best game and I feel like we all did, in our own ways. We all behave differently under pressure.” – Stina Brown
“The required quick turnaround of the charts for digitization made us more disciplined about chart clean-up and finishing. While some of us lingered over our charts longer than others, we had just enough time to apply the finishing touches before handing them off. This made for a more streamlined work flow.” – Anthony Weeks
Be clear on what you need, and ask directly. Lisa Arora said, “ In the morning, you announced what you were most focused on, “I care about timing and…” I think that really helped the team understand what to pay attention to. It was comforting to people to know exactly what you wanted. And from there on, there was no micromanaging.” This helped the whole team move in a unified direction.
Let things go. Define the problem, be open to solutions, then make a decision and let it go.
At some point, you have to go with the flow.This works when things are well organized first, generally. Butas much as structured planning and organization are necessary, so too is the ability to let go and allow the event naturally unfold.
Be mindful of your presence on stage
We alternated sides of the stage, so the 2500-person audience could see the work happening. This added a layer of complexity navigating backstage. We also had one person waiting in the wings ready to go at all times.
“Have the team be aware of their visibility to the audience when waiting in the wings. It runs the risk of being distracting and is less of a “seamless” transition from back-stage to on-stage presence if we’re visible with big white boards and non-black clothing. Of course I know it was necessary to take a peek every now and then in order to hear the speakers and know where things were at!” – Tanya Gadsby
Last Hot Tip!
This was the first event where we were tipped! And what a classy move. Since most clients do not tip, so consider building this cost into your project proposal and contract so you can then pay it forward to the team. It’s a great idea that goes a long way.
What we’ve learned
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about how we pulled off capturing 54 sessions in 2 days. It was a sincere privilege to be a part of such a large event and to share the work of graphic recording with such a large audience.
When an event is to this scale, you can never know and plan for everything. With the dream team of 8 graphic recorders, photographer and graphic designers, we were able to deliver an outstanding product for the client.
We are deeply thankful to the team and appreciate the generosity of graphic recorders who shared their feedback.
We do this work because we love it. While logistics, planning, and on-site professionalism are important, equally so is reminding ourselves of why we do this in the first place. So be present, have fun, and enjoy!
As a graphic recorder or facilitator, how do you “Listen for Diversity”? Many of us are working in specialized fields and it’s not one size fits all. Now for the first time, you can read expert advice from over 20 visual practitioners.
I wanted the workshop to include as many voices as possible – including people who aren’t able to make this year’s conference, and to amplify what’s working for practitioners. So before the workshop, I reached out to the graphic recording community for insights.
The responses are grouped by five themes:
self-reflection and diversity
diversity of perspectives
graphic recording as a participatory process.
Diversity comes in infinite forms — race, gender, cultures, age, and abilities to just name a few. As visual practitioners, it’s a great time to start a conversation.
Images were scribed/graphic recorded by participants of the Listening for Diversity workshop session unless otherwise noted.
As many graphic recorders noted, listening for diversity isn’t just about the people in the room, it’s about what we bring to the room – that is, we need to question our own biases and assumptions, and even how we conceive of our role. As Anthony queries, is it just about creating a visual record of events or about intervening? Having our peers record our work could also enable us to step back and look at our facilitation through someone else’s eyes. Only through critical self-reflection, will we be better equipped to listen for diversity.
In order to represent diversity in ways that advance it, create change, equity & inclusion, we ourselves need to be able to see what we are not seeing… We must question our assumptions and seek to understand what things mean to others, what made them so, and what is really their impact as visual practitioners … We all know that it’s hard to understand what we can’t see and our gift is to help folks see. – Claudia Lopez
When I worked with communities in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side on a potential redevelopment of the Woodward’s Building (which was then occupied by squatters), we engaged with many people marginalized by homelessness, poverty, addictions, and/or mental illness. In facilitation, we sought to respect their passions, their own vision for a better future, and to meet them where they were (literally and \). Checking my own preconceptions, attitudes and biases was vital for me to be open and credible- they had to trust me enough to share their (often very private) aspirations so that I could capture their ideas visually. – Drew Ferrari
Is there a better way for everyone to be heard? I think it’s a really good idea for us to have our own conversations drawn by someone else. – Aaron Johannes
As an Indigenous, mixed race facilitator (with many other identities) I notice how often marginalized groups are described by those who don’t belong to the group… What words do they use to describe themselves? [I also] notice my own tone of voice, body language, [and] who I direct my comments to. Make an effort to scan the room, make eye contact with various contributors. – Tiare Jung, with Drawing Change
How we present images on a page says everything about who WE are, how we see the world, and how we instantiate the biases, dominant points of view, and commonly-held reference points in our work. It’s a subjective business–and our subjectivity is both our Achilles heel as well as our calling card. It all depends on how we interrogate it, play with it, and use it to help groups and teams see their conversation. My suggestions are not prescriptive, but rather, borne out of inquiry. Do we have a role in “signal boosting” voices that are not usually heard? Do we have a role in saying directly to groups: “These are the voices I’m hearing…but what other voices need to be heard here?” What might we offer by embracing the role of “artist” and see the world differently, in contrast to the time-honored tradition of “capturing” only what is heard? – Anthony Weeks
2. Visualizing diversity
One of the surprising outcomes of the survey, was the number of excellent and thoughtful techniques about how to visualize or draw diversity! Given the nature of our work, it makes sense that we are also translators or interpreters – we put on paper what we hear. So, it’s important to consider how we put diversity to paper.
Drawing diversity is a prickly, tricky subject for some recorders…I try to go for a light touch. It’s entirely possible to draw diverse people by making slight changes in the shapes of faces, noses, eyes and clothing. I try to avoid drawing “costumes” if that’s not what people wear in everyday life. I’ve also done a trick where I draw the country flag or country flag colors in the body of the person to show German or Chinese or French people. I think it’s good to be conscious of your visual biases when you draw.– Deb Aoki
When dealing with diversity issues, sometimes it’s best to put the pen into the group’s hands. Let them reflect on issues through facilitated exercises, drawing exercises, templates, etc. We’re only one person in the room. Sometimes it’s more powerful to let someone else draw. – Sophia Liang
To visualize diversity in a meeting, I ask participants to describe attributes of a successfully diverse team that they have served on or participated in. I draw a group of diverse people on a flip chart and add the words they offer up. I refer to this diversity chart throughout the course of the meeting. – Heather Martinez
We always introduce ourselves as visual practitioners and tell people it is very important to us that we get the images and words correct, then we show them our ‘delete key’ or ‘chart Band-Aids (large silver backed labels) so we can change anything on the chart, so please tell us if we have got anything wrong so we can correct it! – Rob Benn
I ask the participants to come to me during the breaks and tell me what they feel should be added. I also do couple of speech bubbles to note down different points of view. I note down also fun moments/random comments – this works amazingly well for the participants to feel connected to the recording. I also try to create a complex picture that makes sense as a whole (e.g. road to somewhere, a scene, a street in the city with different buildings around), but it always has to be connected with what is being spoken about. – Bea Broskova
I want to reflect the people in the room, so I try to look at the actual people present, and draw who I see. It has also helped me to study photos online of different ethnic groups, to practice learning ways to draw different types of people quickly, but in a manner that is (I hope) respectful. When I introduce myself, I let people know anything I write or draw can be changed. I encourage people to let me know if they feel mis-heard or mis-represented by anything on the chart, and to tell me in the moment or on a break and I will change it. – Emily Shepard
One big AHA moment I’ve had is to acknowledge the “white space”…the space where people didn’t have ideas, or realized more thought was needed. One particular event comes to mind. At the end of one session, there was the dreaded “vacuum of white space” that I didn’t know how to fill. The truth was that the group didn’t have as many ideas of HOW to execute their vision as they did on WHAT was their vision. So I put dashed lines around it, and labelled it “more discussion needed on how to build the archive”. It was actually really effective, especially when compared to other graphics of the day, which were full of diverse ideas and concepts. – Yolanda Liman
Let’s spread and integrate new terms in our visual vocabulary: symbols for different ways of reduced mobility, gender, colour… – KSt
I’m hosting a session called Listening for Diversity at the 2017 International Forum of Visual Practitioners conference this June. I’m excited to hear from as many graphic recorders and graphic facilitators as possible about this topic – so if you are not headed to IFVP 2017 I also want to hear your tips.
You’re invited to participate in three ways:
Spend 5 – 10 minutes on this survey (click the link)
Be interviewed in a short video (1-2 minutes – click the link to sign up)
Participate in a 10-12 person fishbowl discussion about diversity during the workshop, or NOMINATE someone (click the link to sign up)
I’ll compile everyone’s contributions and share them back to the field afterwards. You’ll get to hear what other practitioners are doing, and what is the learning edge for what is coming next. Answers will be edited for length.
Not ready to click to the survey yet? need to know more?
Picture an iceberg – what we draw is only what’s on the surface. We can support diversity in our drawings, and there’s also an opportunity to go even deeper.
I’m curious about questions/ideas such as:
– “When I find myself in an unfamiliar context, I get ready and find resources to help me by…”
– “I didn’t know how to draw xyz, and I learned that drawing xyz this way is important because …”
– “The power of the pen is also about what is unsaid – and I listen for … ”
– “I am a member of this ______ group, and I wish other practitioners would draw ME as ….”
– “I mentor someone with lived experience to co-graphic record with me in specific communities. Has anyone else done this, and what did you notice?”
What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Will it help someone else? Share it here:
Sophia Liang from Graphic Footprints and I are also teaching a pre-conference class called “Towards Mastery” at this year’s IFVP conference, for participants with at least 3+ years experience. Spots are filling up and you can sign up here: http://2017.ifvp.org/agenda/. See you there!
Sometimes I’ll get a call from a client who says: “I don’t know what you do, but I’m told that I need you.” And it’s true. You might not know that you need graphic facilitation, just like you didn’t know you were hungry until you had a snack.
But those same clients will stand next to my images during the meeting and say – “yes, that’s exactly what I meant.”
Graphic recorders and facilitators listen deeply, and record what is said using text and pictures. Drawing out ideas live helps groups break through their existing paradigms and see connections. We create images that help groups learn together, connect, and lead.
Marketing what we do
Marketing graphic facilitation is often really easy: a picture is worth a thousand words. We have challenges in our marketing, too. We get asked: “Are you an artist? Will you come draw my wedding?” or “Do you doodle for a living?” No, not really. We’re not artists inventing images or doodling without purpose – we are skilled consultants where every mark is meaningful. We’re there to help groups tap into their hidden wisdom, by making it visible. And that’s a tricky thing to market.
On the plus side, it’s easy to share images on social media (when not confidential) and add to a conversation in real-time online. I market my graphic facilitation and graphic recording services by having great meetings. Participants experience the impact that visuals make in meetings of two people to 900 plus.
Graphic facilitation makes a difference for groups because it:
Synthesizes large amounts of information clearly
Helps with memory retention during the meeting
Is a tool for reflection at strategic points
Starts conversation at breaks and on social media
Keeps the conversation going afterwards, because there’s an engaging summary to share.
Displaying them in gathering spaces for everyone to enjoy.
Marketing joint services
Graphic facilitators and non-visual facilitators can be great partners. Together, you can provide better value for the client than either partner could do alone. Personally, I’m interested in using graphic facilitation to help groups think through problems. Here are some ways to pair up with a graphic facilitator or graphic recorder.
Do you need to facilitate a company vision? Bring in a graphic recorder to help the group think differently. What if the room was surrounded by brightly coloured visuals that inspired participants to see what was possible?
Do you need to engage the public at an open house, and you’re deeply bored of post-it note exercises? What if your team had a graphic facilitator, to ask questions of the passerby and draw out ideas, so people could see they had been heard?
Do you have a 200-page report of the new strategic plan you facilitated for three months? You need an eye-catching graphic that summarizes the report on one page.
Are you working with vulnerable communities? Graphic facilitation can map out someone’s personal story (such as experiences with homelessness), and it can recognize and validate their experiences. Graphic facilitation can synthesise a lot of information, but it can also help us lead with our hearts and tap into something deeper.
Finding a great fit
Graphic facilitators and graphic recorders are often asked to recommend a great facilitator and vice versa. Both parties want a good fit, and it’s not always about location. Clarify roles and approaches.
When hiring graphic facilitators to work with you, does the group need someone with “outside ears” to listen for plain language and clarity, or is it better to have a subject matter expert who will understand the nuances? Our professional association is IFVP.org and there you can find practitioners worldwide using the handy map directory.
Different approaches to marketing in the visual field
Like non-visual facilitators, there are practitioners in many places. Most are solo practitioners or consultants, and some are facilitators with full-time jobs who also use graphic facilitation tools in their jobs.
Some practitioners rely on word-of-mouth, some people bid on RFPs and some lead with facilitation and then bring in visuals in many aspects of their practice (pre-drawing timelines, using templates for group work, Visual Explorer Cards, etc).
I love that feeling when I leave a great meeting. People are fired up from the inside out. They feel heard, and they’re truly communicating. Bring visuals – and snacks! – to your meeting to make this happen.
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Thanks to Monique Walsh at the IAF and The Global Flipchart who reached out to me. The Global Flipchart is IAF’s quarterly magazine about the power of facilitation – made by members, for members. Contact the editorial team by email: firstname.lastname@example.org