Category: * Visual Facilitation Tips

graphic recording and facilitation training workshop drawing change vancouver bc image of markers and text

October Graphic Facilitation Training Workshop – Vancouver Canada

Do you spend a lot of your time in meetings wondering, “What is this meeting about? Is this the best use of our time?”

Actually, it’s not – and Drawing Change can show you a better way. We want you to create meetings with more belonging and connection – using visual facilitation.

Our foundational training workshops will help you hone your listening and drawing skills to make meaning, increase collaboration, and solve problems.

Register HERE for our October 5-6, 2019 graphic facilitation training

sam bradd graphic facilitation training workshop vancouver image of sam holding markers

What will I learn in this graphic facilitation training?

  • Expand your leadership tool-box with visual superpowers
  • Learn how to include diverse voices in meetings
  • Develop your capacity to distill information
  • Sharpen your tools to have more effective meetings
  • Teach the visuals you need to get groups engaged
  • Hone your creative thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Explore visuals as a key tool for big change
  • Have deep conversations about working wisely with visuals and cultural safety

graphic facilitation and graphic recording workshop vancouver

Who should attend?

This workshop is for facilitators, educators, managers, and innovators – anyone who finds themselves working with groups (isn’t that everyone?). You don’t need to be a super-sketcher to be able to communicate visually. If you’ve ever drawn two overlapping circles to explain something, you’re already using visual thinking. This workshop will enhance how you connect ideas, listen and create visual summaries for meetings and events.

What’s the Agenda?

Before Day 1: Social dinner (optional, but a nice get to know you) the evening before the workshop

Agenda Day 1:

  • building a visual vocabulary – even if you think you “can’t draw”
  • lettering five ways: bring your flip charts to the next level
  • learning layouts and how to structure the page
  • hands on practice in a supportive way that builds confidence
  • digital ipad tools
  • resources for your success

Agenda Day 2:

  • visual tools for facilitating meetings, including templates
  • choosing the right tool for the right visual process
  • coaching opportunities, and co-creating the agenda  
  • talking circle about cultural safety and visuals, led by Indigenous graphic recorders

Agenda Day 3 (optional)

  • Intimate lab, capped at 10 people. We will practice graphic recording in a supportive environment
  • business questions and creating your action plan

How much does graphic facilitation training cost?

  • Early Bird Rate $1375 Canadian + GST
  • Regular Rate $1575 Canadian + GST
  • 1 space for Community Scholar Mentorship Program Rate $200 + GST (full for 2019)

Payment plan options available by request. Please

photo by Sarah Race Photography

What if I can’t afford the full rate?

Too many professional development opportunities are only for those who can afford it – and cost shouldn’t be a barrier for making the world a better place.

Drawing Change wants to spread our skills to people working in community, grassroots, and social justice movements. That’s why we offer community scholar spots, and give priority to self-identified Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour folks who are under 30(ish). Community scholars share their skills with community organizations and social movements afterwards. Applications for Community Scholar spaces are full for 2019, and applications will open again for 2020. 

Looking for tips to ask your employer to help fund your training? We wrote a letter to help.

What’s the workshop venue?

Creekside Community Centre is a beautiful venue with a full wall of windows, accessible and gender-inclusive washrooms, and a view of the ocean and seawall.

photo by Sarah Race Photography

Remind me what’s included?

  • Two full days of instruction, a social dinner, and an optional day 3 lab
  • Hot catered lunch and coffee/tea
  • Full kit of drawing supplies valued at over $100
  • Templates, handouts, a book of icons, and resources
  • Two exclusive Neuland® Ambassador gifts
  • A new network of visual practitioners to support you after the course!

I’m from out of town?

Wonderful! We’ll send out recommendations for places to stay and eat. Participants have travelled for this course from the UK, Japan, and across North America – we will make you feel welcome.

How do I register?

Register HERE for our October 5-6, 2019 graphic facilitation training! and email with any questions.

graphic recording and facilitation training workshop drawing change vancouver bc image of markers and text


Co-creating community agreements in meetings

Last month, Drawing Change posted a friendly question on social media:

What’s your favourite community agreement, for meetings?

The responses were so thoughtful and empowering, they had to be shared widely. 

As opposed to “ground rules”, a community agreement is often formed by the group at the beginning of a meeting (there’s a twist on this – more on this in a moment). These commitments can help to create a safer space, be referred to if conflicts arise, and help set the tone and focus for your time together.

Here’s what people contributed:

  • “Learn (or lean) into discomfort.”
  • “Ask for what you need, offer what you can.”
  • “Uphold commitments.”
  • “Listen to understand.”
  • “Let go in order to grow.”
  • “Assume good intent, until proven otherwise.”
  • “Dig deep and Let go.”
  • “Do no harm.”
  • “Support others – this is how you learn about your own strengths.”
  • “Listen to Build. (instead of saying ‘yeah, but…’)
  • “Talk in headlines.”  (Useful if you need to ask “can you give us the headline?”, to get someone to summarize a statement for everyone’s clarity.)
  • “Take the wisdom out of the room but leave the names out.”
  • “Talk to each other not about each other.”
  • “Authentic self expression.”
  • “Limited tech use: we are all grown ups (with work and family obligations) but do your best to be present and avoid the compulsive email checking.”
  • “Nothing about us without us.”
  • “Sustainable ideas consider needs of all, so if an idea doesn’t work for you or the group, consider an alternate!”
  • “Take care of your needs.”
  • (for community work in Northern Mexico, we talk about the quality of) “resonance: we do not compare, contrast, discount or diminish our stories or those of others – we resonate.”  

These agreements were contributed by Ferananda Ibarra, Chris Corrigan, Krisztina Kun, Trilby Smith, Katy Golinsky, Gray Miller Creative, Ankit Chhabra, wolf, Nadja Petranovskaja, Brandy Agerbeck, Natalie Ord, Monica Brasov-Curca, Christine Martell, Jill Banting, Rachel Marcuse, Ken Lima-Coelho, Mark Busse, Julie Gieseke

Facilitating and co-creating agreements

Recently, I’ve been rethinking community agreements. When is it best to suggest principles to the group, and when is it better for a group to create their own? For my graphic facilitation training workshops, I might start the room with a poster like the one in the image above – and ask the group if they have edits or additions. Setting the tone from the front of the room like this works well — but only in low-conflict situations. For years I always asked groups to write them together, but in short meetings or focus groups, when time is very precious or the group is not coming together for a high-stakes conversation, it can seem trite to ask the group to participate in these container-building activities.

But, I’m recently home from a Lewis Deep Democracy training, with greater clarity. Community agreements or “safe rules” in LDD lingo can be a profound way of co-creating trust and safety while managing conflict. And, they don’t need to be the first thing we do together (!). One of the Deep Democracy trainers talked about how it can be a choice to pause and ask groups to create their “safer rules” (what the group needs to feel safer and do their work well together), right before they edge into conflict or go deeper. It could be in the middle of the meeting, for example. When emotions are heightened, and we ask people to name what they truly need – it can help the group be more honest about what they need to participate. And, she said, if the group asks for rules at the very beginning of the meeting – then she knows that they are already at the edge. Aha! So we can ask groups to create their own agreements from scratch, at a key moment, if we’re going to spend considerable time together.

Also, consider if the work should be split into more parts. Defining community agreements or ground rules can support better dialogue with self, the group, and community. As Monica Brasov-Curca shared with me on Facebook, “At a wonderful dialogue training, the trainer split the ground rules exercise into 3 parts. 1.) Community agreements 2.) Workshop conditions 3.) Participant intentions. And we co created all three…. it really is beautiful.”

Facilitate the conditions for being well together

Whether you begin with a list of suggestions, or ask a group to build their own agreements – you’ll find what works for the group. And if I’m a participant, here are some guidelines that I personally might suggest, to create the conditions for working well together.

Together we know a lot. We want to honour that the group has wisdom, and the answers are in the room. Everyone can be an expert. To elicit this, we can be curious and respectful with each other. Some actions to make this happen can be about encouraging questions instead of assumptions, and enabling anyone in the room to lead.

Take space, make space. Make room for people who think out loud by asking them to breathe first before speaking, and make more room for people who prefer to think quietly, to move up a little faster. This is sometimes known as “step up /step back” but with less ableism in the language.

Lean into discomfort. We’re only growing when we are on the edge of our learning. Sometimes it’s hard!

Uphold confidentiality. We don’t want people to share someone else’s personal stories, information, or attribute things to people without their permission – but we want people to share the knowledge beyond the room.

Do our best. Mistakes are okay! Make room to say” ouch, oops, move on.”  It’s okay to try and learn and do-over, be better. Asking for help is part of our movements for a better world.

Whichever tools we use, we want to build agreements where people what they need to learn as openly and securely together as possible.


graphic recording sam bradd tips

Learning graphic recording tips – in rhyming form

A few folks emailed last week with some overlapping advice for new graphic recorders. It’s wonderful to hear how the questions in the field are changing – people tend to ask me questions not about how to draw, but about how to approach the wall and the work. Here’s a summary of our chat – in rhyming form.

“Hi! I’m a new graphic recorder

And I have some questions,

I’m emailing a stranger

To help my next session.


When graphic recording,

Sam, how do you start?

There’s a lot of blank space

Is it planning or art?


Do you use pencil

Or scribe with your pen

I’ve seen you with post-its

Which is best, when?


To finish a poster

Do you work overnight?

To finish on time

How can I capture it right?


You make it look easy

But I think it’s quite skillful

Now that I’ve tried it

I’m hoping you’re helpful!”


And my response,

“Dear new graphic recorder,

Thanks for your note

I’d be happy to share

good practices to promote.


With graphic facilitation

The POP you can heed:

What is the Purpose,

The Outcome, Process, the need?


We lead with facilitation

More than nice pictures

Being strategic for the group

For me, is quite critical.


Yes, start a notebook

and practice new layouts

take field notes around you,

it helps artists stretch out.


You can emphasize all comments

Or some data or stories;

You could listen for themes

Or sort into categories.


The visuals should be visible

To guide conversation

But no groups are the same

Neither is your creation.


How can we harvest?

There’s not just one answer.

It could be a drawing, list, poem,

I guess even a dancer.


Don’t just show up and draw

The magic is the planning

Both in the content

And relationships you’re mapping.


A detailed template can be your friend

And so can blank paper:

It’s about choices – and

ensuring you’re not wallpaper.


Sometimes I use post-its

For grouping complex ideas

It’s only when I have lots of time

Or I have to spell proboscidea,


I prefer to work in real time

So participants can see –

But there might be one unique overnight

Where I synthesize with speed.


But if you’re brand new, dear colleague,

it’s really okay

To practice a bit slower

And not rush through a day;


Better to match up

your skills with the session

So everyone goes home

Impressed with our profession!”


There isn’t one answer to these questions, but I do feel strongly that graphic facilitators can be a trusted thought and facilitation partner in the room when we work to our highest potential. Help the people you are working with to be able to experience that!

Links you may enjoy: our next workshop is May Drawing Change Graphic Facilitation Workshop, May 11-12 (optional 3rd day):

I also recommend these series of questions, to help you contextualize the work- including AND beyond the artefacts we make:





Drawing Change updates for 2019

Six weeks into 2019, and lots going on at Drawing Change. Here’s a few exciting highlights and resources:

Graphic Facilitation Training – in the Arctic

face uncovered only to take this photo! 

This Southerner spent two weeks in the far North. I taught a graphic facilitation workshop in the Arctic Circle in beautiful Cambridge Bay, Nunavut where it was minus 58 degrees Celcius. (Someone skied to my 2-day training workshop!) The demand for new, visual ways of working is always growing – my hunch is we’ll soon see a new network of visual practitioners in the far North – building on a rich history of artistic practices – who will transform graphic facilitation skills with a Northern worldview. Being up North changes your perspective. This is a must-read blog post about Qallunaat.

change your perspective!


Thanks to Aurora College for inviting me to Yellowknife to give a keynote about the role of visual practice for adult educators, and to facilitate part of the in-service. It was a chance to share my ideas around using graphic facilitation to bring us closer together – for a sense of meaningful belonging, and to transform learning. It was an honour to share a stage with Drs Angela James and Suzanne Robinson.

Digital painting by Annalee Kornelsen for Drawing Change

Next public speaking engagement is in Vancouver for the Graphic Designers of Canada-BC Chapter AGM on Feb 20th. I’ll be sharing part of how I came to this unusual career, and how creative practitioners can also use graphic facilitation skills – even if you don’t think you can draw (…yet! The secret to our field is that fancy drawing skills are not always required). Thanks to the #Neuland Ambassador network for the fun swag for these workshops – if the talk has boring moments, at least you can ask me questions about fun markers, right? 


Graphic Recording for Public Engagement and Strategic Planning

The team was busy – in January, the team supported a dozen events about public engagement and strategic planning. Highlights included UBC’s Sexual Assault Awareness Week where Tiaré Jung was graphic recording at this Decolonizing Consent workshop with Dr. Sarah Hunt and Dr Natalie Clark at the UBC Longhouse:

by Tiare Jung, photo by Sarah Hunt

Yolanda Liman provided graphic recording at a strategic planning session in Las Vegas for a client who’s transforming their industry to be even more ethical – we’re always happy to work for US-based clients who want to make the world a better place. And, Michelle Buchholz teamed up with the amazing folks at Alderhill Consulting to support Indigenous-led strategic planning.

Generative Scribing and Experiments in Systems Thinking

Jessica Rhiel

I went to NYC for an advanced workshop in generative scribing with Kelvy Bird (who I co-edited a book with) and Alfredo Carlo – a chance to experiment and go deeper into my own practice and systems thinking. Here’s a great new resource by Jessica Rhiel about systems thinking.

Generative scribing gives us more choices to listen and connect to what is happening in the room. How I work always depends on the context – some groups will need the visuals to distill complex information into knowledge translation tools, and other groups will benefit from visuals that show a possibility that is being generated and is yet emerging. My purpose is to honour the lifetimes of experiences of participants both in the process, and in the visuals that are created. 

Practitioners shouldn’t be tied to one way of working – because this creative, intellectual and intuitive work is more than “just show up and draw”. I don’t believe that practitioners should be interchangeable, or that we should approach each session identically. From the practitioner perspective, with training, mentors, communities of practice and experience – we can all deepen our work from our wisest source. And when we ask ourselves to work from this place, we can also help the room work from this place, with intention and purpose. 

me on the left, you on the right // systems thinking model

the 300 Rule – a great business tip for emerging graphic recorders

For newer graphic recorders wondering “what to do when nobody notices this great piece of work I just shared?” – I really enjoyed this article about the 300 rule from Alex Mathers. . I’ll be at this year’s 2019 conference on the business panel, so I’m collecting wisdom from people smarter than me in the meantime!

And, Registration is OPEN for this year’s graphic facilitation workshops, too.


free graphic facilitation training

They’re back- Community Scholars and Volunteers at our 2019 visual facilitation workshops

Drawing Change believes in growing the field of visual practice, graphic facilitation, and graphic recording – and so our FREE Community Scholar spots and Volunteer Spots are back for our 2019 Visual Facilitation Workshops! *update: as of April 2019, applications for 2019 Community Scholar and volunteer spots are closed – we had a huge number of applications for May. These folks will now be considered for October – to minimize the amount of work people are asked to do in applying again. Thanks for your understanding and importantly thanks for applying!*

Community Scholar Spots for 2019 (3)

We have spaces open to support people working in community, grassroots, and social justice movements. So many professional development are expensive, and assume that participants are being sponsored by well-funded organizations. Instead, Drawing Change wants to spread the skills widely and with an equity lens. Priority will be given to self-identified Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour under 30(ish). To apply, email and tell us why you’re interested, a brief note about your facilitation experience, examples of your drawing skills, what organization/movement you’re a part of, and what your plans are to share these skills afterwards.

Cost: $200 as a deposit (versus $1500 regular rate)  + GST

Workshop info:

How it works:

  • Choose either the May 11-12th 2019  or October 5-6th 2019 workshop. There is 1 Scholar for the May workshop and 2 for October.
  • Deadlines are below. 
  • We will collect names and then select people so it’s not first-come-first-served. Community Scholars will receive a full supply kit, all supplies that regular participants receive including hot lunch, and there’s no volunteering expectations.
  • You pay $200 to hold your spot (talk to us if this is a barrier)
  • Optional 1:1 coaching support: Instead of taking the workshop then jumping in, Sam can provide support and small suggested projects/assignments before the workshop. This would be 2-3 hours of optional time.
  • I’ll offer you at least $200 in paid work after the session to continue your practice.

Additional Info for Community Scholars:

  • No expectations to arrive early
  • Get a full kit of supplies
  • Participate as a full member of the course
  • No expectation to be “working” /supporting others during the course in a way that distracts from your own learning

Volunteer spots (4)

How it works:

  • We will pick volunteers one month before the workshop so it’s not first-come-first-served
  • Deadlines are below
  • Email to tell us why you’re interested in visual facilitation, what useful skills for supporting meetings/workshops you can offer, and what your plans might be to share these skills afterwards

Cost: $0

Additional Info for Volunteers:

  • Arrive very early for setup and takedown (7am to 6pm)
  • The priority is that you’re working during the event to make the workshop a success for participants – you will have time to do most of the activities, but not all
  • Tasks will include: helping participants, room setup, cutting paper, meeting the caterer, registration desk, social media, moving furniture, running the audio/visual, and in return get the workshop for free
  • Basic drawing supplies will be provided
  • Free food both days
  • All volunteer responsibilities happen during the workshop from 7am to 6pm
  • The volunteer team is responsible for documenting the workshop: social media, photos, and a collaborative graphic recording
  • Some people will do kneeling/lifting, but work can be adapted.

Application Deadlines:

May 11-12th workshop: email by April 1st to be a community scholar (1 space) OR volunteer (4 spaces). We will inform people by April 15th. 

October 5-6th workshop: email by September 1st to be a community scholar (2 spaces) OR volunteer (4 spaces). We will let you know by September 15th.

Anything Else?

  • Travel and accommodation to the workshop (Vancouver, Canada) not included
  • If you’re thinking about registering for the full workshop, great – payment plans available upon request, just send us a note at
  • Looking for tips to ask your employer to give you professional development funding? We wrote a letter to help.

Last year’s visual facilitation workshop sold out, and participants came from the UK, Japan, the US and across Canada! Folks applied their new skills in the fields of mental wellness, community organizing, municipal engagement, health care, organizational change and so much more. We will also have teaching led by Indigenous team members at Drawing Change. Can’t wait to see what this year brings.

October Graphic Facilitation Workshop info:

2019 Visual Facilitation Workshops in Vancouver Canada

I want you to have meetings with more belonging and connection – and visual facilitation is a way to do that. There’s no shortage of information anymore. Even when we have all the data and people in the room, it doesn’t always add up to a great meeting. What’s missing are people who can help groups make sense of information and tools to help people feel heard. This is the moment where graphic recording and graphic facilitation have impact.  Invest in your meeting skills with this two-day foundational course in Graphic Recording and Graphic Facilitation. In 2018, workshop participants came from the UK, Japan, the US and across Canada – join us in 2019! 

REGISTER: May 11 -12th, 2019 with an optional third day 


REGISTER: October 5-6th, 2019

When we see visual process work in action, our eyes, ears, mind and heart begin to make connections. We listen more deeply. The seeds of action start to take root. When we see our words and thoughts expressed in front of us – live – we are rooted into what is happening in the room. 

Graphic recorders and graphic facilitators use listening and drawing skills to help groups reach a deeper understanding, engage with each other, and solve problems. With this 2-day foundational workshop, you can make meaning and affect change at your next meeting.

graphic recording workshop vancouver
Graphic recording workshop with Fostering Change BC and Amanda Fenton | photo courtesy of Yumi and Vancouver Foundation team, 2017

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