Graphic Facilitation is the process of facilitating a conversation with the help of graphics that are done in real time. In other words: to draw ideas LIVE, while facilitating the conversation that brings about those ideas. Something like this:

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How it works

Graphic Facilitation is a process that has many things in common with Graphic Recording (like listening, thinking, envisioning and using on-spot hand-drawn elements), and yet it’s definitely different. Let’s take some examples:

  • While in Graphic Recording there is no interaction between the practitioner and the group, in Graphic Facilitation the interaction is central! It is what defines it.
  • As a consequence, the thinking process is owned mostly by the group, rather then the facilitator, who is rather guiding it, than creating it.
  • Also the ideas, the interpretations, the flow – these elements should come rather from the group, than as an input from the facilitator.
  • The facilitator becomes like an extension-arm of the group, a skilful hand ready to draw the team’s ideas in seconds, so that the conversation can continue and have a flow.
  • It’s the reason why in Graphic Facilitation the drawings are even less artistic than in Graphic Recording.
  • Therefore, the canvas itself will most probably be a draft, a plan, a sketch. Which can be used as a basis for illustration or for further exploration.

Why you’d use it

Because having meetings graphically facilitated will help those conversations gain more meaning, collaboration, engagement and solutions. People will become more engaged, present and creative. And change can occur more easily.

Types of support

On paper

Graphic Facilitation is usually done on flip-charts and then the flip-chart papers can go on the walls or the windows, in order to be visible and easily accessible within the sessions.

We can also use bigger sheets of paper or a paper roll, but for them there’s needed more flat space on a vertical surface.

You’ve got one? That’s perfect! Markers unite!

The main benefit here is that the papers can stand the test of time. They can be rolled and stored and then taken back out and re-used, improved or completed.

On whiteboard

There’s also the option of doing Graphic Facilitation on a whiteboard or on a glass wall. Which means that you either need a rather big surface: more than one whiteboard or a wide wall.

The alternative is to just erase the work from time to time. Scary? Not really!

It is, though, advisable to take pictures of it or to scan it, so that the work is saved on the long term at least on a digital level.

The good part with this option is that you get the feeling of flexibility and adaptability. It seems more agile and fresh. And if you have a big wall to draw on, you can keep it and update it.

On a digital tablet

Along with the digital migration of services, also the Graphic Facilitation can move online.

As technology evolved in the recent years, almost whatever can be done on a paper on whiteboard, can also be done on a digital graphic tablet. Or maybe even more.

A graphic facilitator can join an online video call and then it can share the screen of the tablet to allow others to visually access the work as it’s being done.

The change in such a context consists mainly in a bit less interaction, which leaves more space for the graphical content. The visuals can take up more space in the conversation.

When to use Graphic Facilitation

Refresh team meetings

Let’s accept it: team meetings have never been the mecca of employees. Rather the barren land of endless talking and no conclusions. No one burns of the desire to reserve a room and start a meeting! Or do you? Well, that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be elevated!

Any meeting can be transformed. It can be re-framed. It can become more engaging, creative and productive. Always, visualising a conversation, will be better than the mere transcription of it.

Enhance thinking

A brainstorming session. A strategic meeting. Planning. Decision-making. Feedback. Any solution-focused gathering can benefit from the visual translation of the thinking process.

Think about it like this: your team’s ideas come into the spoken world and then take shape into the visual world. It’s easier to have an objective conversation about them. It works like magic! But apart from the beautiful words, this practice is back-up by science and it works.

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And even if you might not want an external facilitator to do that, you can always train yourself or someone else in your team to become one.