Graphic Facilitation

Graphic facilitation is a powerful facilitation tool that uses words, symbols and pictures to record and facilitate meetings.

Key ideas and concepts are captured in real time on a large display that promotes "big picture thinking" and stimulates participation, creativity and focus. The visual record encourages teams to clarify differences and define goals. It adds another dimension to traditional facilitation methods. Wall charts record the story of the group's meetings and events. They make it very easy for new members to be brought up to date and provide memory hooks for people who attended the previous meetings. When recorded over time they provide a graphic illustration of the group's journey towards its goal – a group history.

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How to do it

Preparation

  • Graphic recording involves the use of an artist to represent the ongoing discussions at an event through using symbols or pictures. This artist could be a professional, or could involve a nominated community representative or facilitator.
  • The pictures are drawn during the discussions for all to see, meaning that people have the opportunity to see the ideas being expressed.
  • Some people may feel confident to record information visually as they facilitate but for anyone who would like to learn this skill there are courses available.

Pros

  • It encourages participation and is fun.
  • It encourages people to think differently and in a different way.
  • People obtain eighty percent of their information visually. Participants can see what they have heard.
  • The meeting is recorded in a way that is easy to remember - people are more likely to remember ideas when images are allied to words.
  • All of the information is visible, so it is much easier to understand the relationships between different elements and remember what was said earlier.
  • It can record feelings as well as ideas and statements.
  • Previously unidentified patterns and influences can be identified.
  • The group can see the whole system and agrees the record as it goes up.
  • Everyone can see any agreed actions, so these are much more likely to be carried out.This is a particularly useful tool to use with groups who may have literacy difficulties, learning difficulties or disabilities, or with people for whom English is not their first language.
  • Position, colour, shape and arrows can be used to show connection between ideas.

Cons

  • People may need training in graphic facilitation.
  • Some ideas lend themselves to graphic presentation more than others.

Resources

  • This approach usually works best with a professional artist, but can also be used as a learning opportunity for community representatives themselves. Ensuring that you have an individual or group in place who are able to effectively portray the discussions visually is the key resource required for using this method.
  • It is perfectly reasonable to 'have a go' yourself. However, you should seek training unless you are already confident.
  • Venue and catering.
  • Reimbursement of out of pocket expenses of lay participants.

Top Tips

  • Until you have developed the skills in house, it is advisable to use the services of an external graphic facilitator.

Sources and Further Information

  • Graphic Facilitation is a relatively new way of engaging with communities. There are a small number of companies who will facilitate this type of event in the UK. An internet search for graphic recording or graphic facilitation will identify a number of relevant companies.