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Graphic Facilitation

According to graphic facilitator Brandy Agerbeck (www.loosetooth.com), graphic facilitation is the practice of using words and images to create a conceptual map of a conversation. A graphic facilitator is the visual, usually silent partner to the traditional, verbal facilitator, drawing a large scale image at the front of the room in real-time.

Agerbeck describes graphic facilitation as both a process and product. Watching the graphic facilitator create the map as the group speaks is highly experiential and immediate. It focuses the group as they work, aiding concentration by capturing and organizing their ideas. Everyone can watch their ideas take shape; the manifestation is most resonant with the visual, spatial and systematic thinkers in the group, but it’s a powerful tool of recognition for everyone.

After the event, the map becomes a document; evidence of the meeting’s progress and direction. This resulting conceptual map is an engaging and meaningful tool, because the audience watched its creation in relationship to their experience. Images being emotional and subjective, participants can interpret the image and recall their own ‘Aha!’ moments.

According to visualpractitioner.org, graphic facilitators (or ‘visual practitioners’ or ‘visual facilitators’) use visual methods to assist learning and communication between groups and individuals. Graphic facilitators tap into the power of ‘visual thinking’–they literally draw information out of people, functioning as facilitators and scribes to get the wisdom of groups into a tangible form. Some use visual presentations to ‘PUSH’ information to people. Other use a ‘PULL’ approach, gathering the information that is pulled out of people, into graphic displays or renderings. Whatever approach is used, the artifacts that are created have a very graphic or visual nature.

What Are the Benefits of Working Visually?

As human beings our world is speeding up and the amount of information that we are forced to digest is growing exponentially. One of the prime benefits of working visually is that it is humane! The human brain processes information visually – pictures help convey reams of data efficiently. Visual Practitioners know and use the efficiencies of visuals. They know how to extract and distill the key messages, wisdom and knowledge held within an individual or group.

Working graphically is efficient and effective – as such it saves time, money and much aggravation. Comprehension increases, participation increases, the quality of decision-making tends to increase; all in all, working visually helps people more effectively see their circumstances, understand themselves and one another, and results in smoother decisions and agreements.

The ease of reproduction is another large benefit of working visually, particularly in the case of business meetings or settings where meeting minutes and summary notes are of prime importance. No longer does someone have to slave over the transcription of an important meeting – most of the approaches that visual practitioners use do not require additional writing work; the minutes are literally created as we go (particularly in graphic recording and graphic facilitation venues).

BENEFITS (INTERACTIVE, HIGHLY FACILITATED APPROACHES):

  • Increases Clarity And Comprehension (People Literally See What They Mean)
  • Boosts Learning For Visual And Kinesthetic Learners (Over 88% Of People)
  • Heightens Thinking Levels (Enables Higher Level Of Dialogue And Discussion)
  • Saves Time And Increases Efficiency By Reducing Repetition And Redundancy
  • Lowers Misunderstandings And Helps Resolve Conflict
  • Increases Quality Of Decisions And Understanding Of Commitments And Accountabilities
  • Shrinks The Need For Traditional Meeting Minutes And Reports (The Charts Become The Report)

BENEFITS (PASSIVE, OFF-ON-THE-SIDE SCRIBING APPROACHES):

  • Collects Key Information Without Invasive Questioning Or Interruption
  • Expands Retention And Understanding Of Key Themes And Main Ideas
  • Increases The ROI For Speakers & Presenters (Documents Their Crucial Points)
  • Builds A Graphic Summary That Leaders Can Use To Summarize/Interact With
  • Equips Participants With A Unique ‘Takeaway’ Of Their Experience (Paper Or Digital)
  • Makes For Easy Sharing And Communication Of The ‘Gestalt’ Of The Event

Resources on Graphic Facilitation

Grove Consultants International, a well-established group of graphic facilitators based in the San Francisco Bay area, feature a number of video demos on their website.  These short videos walk users through using their most popular planning templates.  At grove.com, you’ll find a number of other great resources on graphic facilitation.  A great place to start is at the resources section of their online learning center.

The International Forum of Visual Practitioners website, at visualpractitioner.org, features a nice database of graphic facilitators you can hire. For over 25 years, business people, artists, communities, governments, educators, and individuals have been leveraging the power of their Visual Practitioner community of graphic recorders and graphic facilitators.

Resource Link: www.visualpractitioner.org

This text was excerpted from www.visualpractitioner.org and www.loosetooth.com.

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