Last month I had the opportunity to not only watch a graphic facilitator at work during a panel discussion, but also to then attend a how-to workshop on graphic facilitation. They were both extremely interesting!

What is graphic facilitation?

Graphic facilitation involves essentially creating a work of art as a way to capture ideas and notes. In this instance, a panel discussion of three experts were discussing issues around sustainability, and the graphic facilitator was drawing images to illustrate their main points and ideas. With graphic facilitation, you can see everything visually laid out for you at the end of a brainstorming session, and have a lot of ideas to take away from it (rather than just pages of notes or bullet point upon bullet point upon bullet point).

It’s a very cool way to get our brains working – and the graphic facilitator at our how-to workshop even recommended that children who doodle use this method when they are in school by doodling what the teacher is talking about rather than doodling mindlessly.

How can graphic facilitation be useful?

As a way to visualize and capture everything that you’ve been talking about in a brainstorming session or discussion period, graphic facilitation enables us to think about our ideas in a different way and use our brains on a whole different level. It also has the added benefit of triggering our memories, so that when we look back at our artistry that illustrates the session, we can remember distinct points that people were making (rather than looking at your list of notes and vaguely remembering that someone said something along those lines…).

I experimented with graphic facilitation when I was reviewing  a webinar. I took “notes” by drawing images and pictures. The best part is, I can still go back to that page that I drew all over and remember exactly what I was trying to get at. It’s fun to be able to so easily decipher the major points by looking at a few simple drawings!

How do you “do” graphic facilitation?

Really, graphic facilitation is about drawing very simple, basic shapes and moving forward from there. At our how-to workshop, the graphic facilitator showed us that by combining seven elements – a circle, square, triangle, L-shape, the number 7, a straight line, and a wavy line – we can create anything! Granted, this doesn’t mean that you instantly become an amazing artist overnight (TRUST ME. I can attest to that).

It’s also about really exercising a part of our brains that a lot of us don’t make use of in our adult lives. Think about light bulbs to illuminate key ideas, mountains to illustrate journeys, sign posts to indicate important messages, and so on. Colour is also a major part of this, as that can help to differentiate between various images (and there’s nothing much more fun than getting a pile of markers and drawing as you’re learning!).

Graphic facilitation is such a fun way to improve your memory when it comes to brainstorming and discussion sessions – it might not be entirely appropriate to test out in a meeting with your boss, but I definitely encourage everyone to take advantage of the next opportunity you have to implement this way of “note-taking.” You’d be surprised at how effective it is!

Have you ever tried graphic facilitation? Can you draw well? Does this concept appeal to you? How do you ensure that you remember key points from discussion sessions? Share in the comments section below!