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HOW TO MAKE YOUR NEXT EVENT SIZZLE… WITH GRAPHIC FACILITATION

Is your company sick to death of corporate communication? Has your project team lost the will to live?
Are your vision and value statements securely locked at the bottom of a dusty old filing cabinet?

If you’re anything like many companies, you’re tired of getting the same old results from the same old
meetings; the same old platitudes from corporate group-think; the collective heave of shoulders as
employees secretly sigh, “We’ve heard it all before.”

Instead, you want to get more engagement in your meetings; you want to raise the creativity and
contribution in the room; get more buy-in to strategy and problem solving. Hey, you might even want
everyone on message and loving being part of creating it.

So, let’s whet your appetite and explore how graphic facilitation is going to help do that. And along I
will tell you what Graphic Facilitation is.

GRAPHIC FACILITATION WAS BORN IN A CAVE

Let’s start at the very beginning.

Humans have always had a creative desire to represent their world through pictures. It’s believed that
the most ancient art we have so far discovered is around c40,000 years old.

Ancient drawings were made to convey where the best hunting grounds were; the type of prey to be
found and the kind of ceremonies that were important to people then.

So how does this help when planning your next corporate meeting?

CAVE DRAWINGS AND THE MODERN MEETING

For me I think there were a couple of key reasons:

Ask yourself a few basic questions:
1. When was the last time you really loved a meeting experience? You know, the one you left feeling super productive and that good work had been done
2. What was it about the meeting / event that made such an impact on you?
3. What would you say was the one magical ingredient that brought this event alive?

Chances are everyone contributed and felt valued and there was a lot of visual stimulation to drive, clarify and reinforce the contributions as they were given.

So let’s dive into how you can GUARANTEE great meetings and events as a minimum standard and start to develop a system and process that makes sure ALL MEETINGS AND EVENTS have a CERTIFIED wow-factor.

WHY DO PEOPLE SAY ‘NOBODY TOLD ME’?

Often, important information and communication becomes ‘white noise.’ People tune out because they’ve heard it all before, or they’ve had information overload.

Have you heard people say of your big initiative, “Nobody told me!” They don’t recall the information, yet they were there at your presentation!

This is because auditory recall is generally low in the overall population.

LISTENING WITH YOUR EYES

Sometimes in meetings, we tune out of real listening when we struggle to think about the next thing we are going to say.

But when the listening is done with the eyes as well as well as the ears, a greater sense of absorption,
engagement, participation and creativity occurs.

In technical terms, people reach “an immersed state of consciousness.”

Distractions are actually tuned out and creativity is finally unleashed.

BRAINS JUST LOVE VISUAL INFORMATION

Most of us have heard the saying, a picture is worth a thousand words. But let’s understand a bit more
about why our brains love visuals.

When people hear new, complex information, the fact of the matter is, they can only hold around five
give or take two consecutive pieces of data, at any one time. Much less if they are stressed or under pressure.

Seeing their ideas and contributions visually captured increases how productive a meeting will be. The
brain can relax because someone else is retaining and capturing the information in a creative and stimulating way. This allows brain space for new ideas to form.

Why? It’s simple! It’s because empty brains process new thinking better.

HERE’S THE SCIENCE BIT

50% of our brain is involved in visual processing and visual impact accounts for 70% of our sensory
receptors. This means that by using graphics effectively, our logical and creative thinking processes are stimulated.

In fact, one study found that three days after an event, an attendee retained
only 10-20 percent of written or spoken information but almost sixty five percent of visual information.

Human beings are visual creatures. We can get the sense of a visual image faster than any other message. In fact, within a tenth of a second.

Not only that, but our memory is enhanced by seeing as well as hearing things.

SO WHAT IS GRAPHIC FACILITATION?

Graphic Facilitation is the live drawing of large scale pictures, real time that capture the essence of the conversation that is taking place. People see their ideas and contributions drawn out in pictures as they say them which validates what they are saying, prompts others to add their thoughts and acts as a great visual aide memoire after the meeting, conference or workshop.

WHY USE A GRAPHIC FACILITATOR FOR YOUR NEXT MEETING?

If you are a change manager, meeting planner, leader or speaker who wants to take people on a journey that they help create, then graphic facilitation may be the right choice for you.

Creating a visual picture of the outcome – ideally in collaboration – will deliver a colourful, compelling
resource to communicate your key messages in a memorable way.

When people see a large-scale drawing, it engages their emotional memory. What’s more, we know that the more intensely we engage the emotions, the longer we will remember the associated information.

IMAGE POWER VS WORD POWER

The reason a graphic representation of a meeting, event or conference is so powerful is that the visuals
reinforce a longer-lasting memory of the key messages during real time.

The visuals help reinforce the message and prolong their shelf life well into the near and distant
future. Plus they are handy visual reminder to keep everyone on message and on brand on a day-to- day basis.

TOTAL BODY MESSAGING

Seeing the message, feeling the message and hearing the message is going to increase recall almost
tenfold.

When it comes to business communication, having a living visual representation of what is being seen,
heard and felt is POWERFULLY compelling.

MESSAGES LOST IN TRANSLATION

Remember our caveman? Let’s call him Angus. He knew that visual story telling was the most effective
communication tool. Yet fast forward into the digital era and we are being overwhelmed with slick corporate graphics, clipart and death by PowerPoint.

Sometimes the story just gets lost in translation.

Let’s put it this way … there is something incredibly authentic, real, and dare I say, charming, about the real-time, hand-drawn capture of conversations and ideas, actions and conclusions.

When people see there is a graphic facilitator at work in their meeting, there is a frisson of interest.
Participants begin to see their contributions and ideas drawn out and feel doubly valued.

Perhaps even for the first time.

THE ART OF SIMPLICITY

Sometimes discussions or presentations are complex. The beauty of a good graphic facilitator is that
complexity is artfully simplified through the drawing.

The best graphic facilitators capture the flow, priority and key focus of the conversation as it unfolds.
When people see their contributions captured in real time, it keeps them totally in the game.

The audience that watches their contributions develop into a big picture are stimulated to contribute even more.

HOW DOES THE GRAPHIC FACILITATOR WORK?

At Drawn to Learn we begin with a briefing meeting or call which we then turn into a proposal that
captures the outcomes that have been discussed. We then join your gathering, sets up a large sheet of paper and use beautiful pens to draw, large scale, so the whole gathering can see their messages unfold. We listen intently, synthesizing what is being said and think carefully about how to organise the content into a combination of words and drawings that capture the shared meaning of the contributions.

The Graphic Facilitator is listening with ‘outside’ ears and is dedicated to non-judgemental visual capture of the essence of the ideas and inputs to the gathering.

The process of the conversation is recorded as well as the content. The skills deployed are primarily listening, thinking, synethesizing, drawing, mapping and being non-judgmental!

OVER TO YOU

Are you ready to inject the sizzle into your next big meeting? I’d like to offer you a free 45 minute Discovery Call to help bring your next big event to life with Graphic Facilitation – at a time of your convenience. Click the link here to book a date and time that suits us both.

Contact: jackie.forbes@drawntolearn.co.uk or phone (00 44) 07961 134 741

Be sure to share this information with your friends and colleagues who may be considering using a graphic facilitator or will attend a meeting with a graphic facilitator. They may be missing some key ingredients in making sure their next event has the all-important wow-factor!

What do you think of this information? Is it useful? Comprehensive? Have we missed anything? Can you add to it? We would like to turn this blog piece into the ‘Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Graphic Facilitator’ so your ideas and bullet points would be incredibly welcome. Please scroll down and leave a comment. Credit will be given where credit is due. We will get straight back to you as soon as we are free or when time permits.

Feel free to download the entire check list on in a ‘check box format.’ That way, you can cross off all the key preparation and planning elements as you go along.

LET’S INTRODUCE OURSELVES

Jackie Forbes has an international career as a development designer and facilitator. She brings over 20 years’ experience of helping people contribute to organisational success to her role as Principal of Drawn to Learn. Drawn to Learn has an overflowing toolkit, including learning and development programmes, team development, facilitation solutions and visual practices.

Jackie Forbes is Managing Director of Drawn to Learn – the graphic facilitation consultancy for all event, meeting and team development needs …

As members of the International Forum of Visual Practitioners (IFVP), Drawn to Learn has over 20 years’ experience of helping people contribute to organisational success. With an overflowing toolkit, including learning and development programmes, team development, facilitation solutions and visual practices, Drawn To are poised to transform your next group event.

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