Graphic Facilitation and Graphic Recording are tools widely used to help individuals and groups of people organise and plan, supporting them to focus on and remember their discussions and meetings. Participation, creativity, and understanding are stimulated as key ideas are captured directly in words and pictures.
The display produced provides a visual record and group memory that can help to clarify differences, misunderstandings, aspirations and dreams, and encourage the group to define and action goals. The dialogue that is promoted helps engage group members, clarify strategy and lead change.
Where Graphic Facilitation Can Help
In the current economic climate, businesses and other organisations need to make difficult decisions and plan strategies for the future. Graphic Facilitation is a tool that gives organisations the opportunity to focus away from negativity and onto positive outcomes; to think about what can be done and not what can't, and at the same time fully engage all participants in important meetings.
Typical issues that can affect the success of a meeting include:
- Unclear objectives,
- The complexity of the DISCUSSIONS and the need to repeat meetings to enhance understanding or to gather missed information,
- High levels of conflict,
- Differences within the group,
- Lack of mutual trust and respect,
- Unresolved issues and an inability to make decisions,
- Actions often not completed or followed up.
The Benefits of Graphic Facilitation
Where Graphic Facilitation is used, meetings are characterised by:
- Productivity – The objectives and structure of the meeting can be set in advance. In the meeting new ideas can be more readily understood.
- Group Focus and Clear Thinking - Graphic displays enable people to stay focussed and clearly understand and process important information. By seeing many aspects of a situation displayed at once, larger patterns and relationships emerge.
- Enhanced Creativity – The use of colours and pictures, in addition to words promotes creative problem solving. The use of visual metaphors can be a great source of creative stimulation.
- Decision-making – Creative processes facilitate effective decisions.
- Participant engagement - Graphic displays help participants stay engaged in the process. They feel validated and have a definite sense of being heard and acknowledged when their contributions appear for everyone to see.
- Commitment – Visual recording engenders commitment to the agreed actions.
- Optimized Learning - Learning and retention increase when multiple senses are called on. Studies have shown that visual perception increases retention by 40% over the spoken word alone.
- Group Memory Capture - The graphic display captures the contents of a meeting in an engaging way, helps effective recall of accomplishments and can be used to promote ideas to others.
- Fun – People are more productive when they enjoy themselves. Graphic Facilitation encourages participation, whilst focusing on results.
How Graphic Facilitation Works
Meetings are planned in advance and facilitated directly by a Graphic Facilitator or are co-facilitated. Large wall charts are hand drawn by the Graphic Facilitator during the discussion. Key ideas are captured in a colourful combination of drawn images and words, promoting "big-picture" thinking and sparking fresh ideas. Graphic tools and templates designed to support different stages of group dialogue create an efficient structure for the development of meetings. The visual content of the chart gives people a common language across roles, departments, and expertise areas.
Interaction between the facilitator(s) and participants and involvement in the development of the chart enables the group to define goals, clarify differences and form agreements. Everyone in the group is able to see their contribution to the whole, which gives them a greater sense of ownership of the outcomes. Custom designed icons, posters and info-maps can be employed to stimulate and document innovative thinking.
Graphic facilitation and Graphic Recording enhances all kinds of group functions, including visioning, decision-making, strategic planning, scenario sessions, person-centred planning, conferences and presentations, project meetings, Board meetings, training, brainstorming, team building, public consultations and community meetings.