Excited to see Copenhagen this summer! I’m co-facilitating two workshops at the EuViz 2018 conference for visual practitioners, and I thought it was a great opportunity to share resources I’m using these days to help me grow, and change. (And help me recover from making mistakes. I make lots of mistakes.) What’s most important is that it’s not just about what you draw. Our work is informed before we pick up the pen.
Julie Stuart and Claudia Lopez (bios below) and I are facilitating “A Brave space: exploring bias and how it shows up in the pen.”
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.
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.
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: email@example.com
Live graphic recording created in tandem by Avril Orloff and Corrina Keeling
On October 29th we celebrated the release of our new book, Drawn Together through Visual Practice! We had a great turnout for the book launch event, which took place at Gallery Gachet in Vancouver, bringing together local facilitators, visual practitioners, friends, curious creatives, and even our moms.
Local authors gave short presentations on their work, and facilitators in attendance shared some practices, including a live graphic recording, and fielded questions from the audience.
The event was hosted by Stina Brown, MC extraordinaire. Stina’s book chapter explores how to connect the self to the planet using facilitation. In these times of great uncertainty, finding ways to lead groups into taking action is empowering. Stina also shared an activity with the audience, which is often used by graphic facilitators: a spectrogram that can be easily set up to ask a group questions.
Local author and graphic facilitator Aftab Erfan gave a short presentation on her chapter about Deep Democracy, which uses visuals to help explain what’s under the surface. Aftab works with groups to help unearth what is in the unconscious in the room, and the audience definitely learned more about itself that day!
We were also treated to a presentation by author Aaron Johannes-Rosenberg on his chapter about PATH: a visual process to help people with disabilities dream of a full life and a plan to make it happen.
I spoke about my chapter about using cultural safety and cultural humility. Originally, it was my Master’s project – but after writing about anti-racism and graphic recording, I realized it came down to this basic question. are we drawing whiteness? And my answer was yes. So now you don’t have to read the thesis. I decided to answer a more interesting question instead: How can visual practitioners work with cultural safety and cultural humility? For more on my chapter, check out my 4-part blog series on using cultural safety and cultural humility.
Here’s me talking while Avril and Corrina work on their amazing graphic recording for the book launch. Vancouver is lucky to have such a strong visual practitioner community!
Thanks to everyone who came out, and for making the book launch a great success!