Graphic Recording and Graphic Facilitation Workshop

external image 1907878502_fefdad17ff.jpgThis playful experiential workshop takes place almost entirely at the drawing surface. It starts with some basic drawing exercises especially for those who are reluctant to draw, and builds into the basic practices of graphic recording/facilitation, participatory visual practices and the use of visuals in specific facilitation contexts. We'll cover preparation, the actual visual practices and a bit about follow up with digital images.

The approach is to briefly introduce an idea or practice, EXPERIENCE it by doing it, debrief and then move to the next thing. The actual skill building is iterative as we consider different applications of visuals.

You do not have to be an artist, consider yourself artistic, or ever admit publicly or privately that you can draw in order to enjoy and participate in this workshop. The only requirement is that you leave your "inner censor" at the door for two days. We can look silly together safely. You do NOT need previous experience or have to consider yourself an artist. We can ALL draw.

Photos and Notes Below from the days!


  • Scan some of the resources shown below. You may also want to scan the general Visual+Work+and+Thinking page
  • Come prepared to get your hands dirty.
  • Dress is comfortable clothes that can get dirty and you won't be sad if there is a stain or two.
  • Bring a sketchbook, pad of paper or journal to take notes - unlined is terrific.
  • Bring a digital camera to record the fruits of your labor. (if you have one – we will also take pictures and share on the web)
  • A jump drive to copy pictures we share with each other.
  • If you plan to continue recording, bring a bag to tote your supplies in – I like something light I can sling over my shoulder. I use smaller zip plastic bags inside to store my pens.
  • We will supply the basic materials for the day, but you may want to purchase in advance your own set of materials. I apologize that the following list is US-Centric, but I have not purchased materials in other countries. If you have other favorite pens or chalk pastels, bring them along!
  • Leave you inner censor at home. Bring your inner child.


  • Pens - My basic markers is the Mr Sketch unscented. They have good colors, a nice firm chisel tip (we'll see why that is useful when we use them) and are fairly cheap and sturdy. For those near Nelson, B.C., you can buy them at Cowans Office Supply store. That is where we bought them for this workshop. I buy the regular Mr. Sketch 12 pack at any of the big box office stores. The scented ones have fruity scents. Some people love the scents. The good news is you really have to stick them close to your nose to smell them! They are made by Sanford and there is also a washable version if you like. The washable are more expensive. Go figure... I'll bring a big bag of "other things" to play with.
  • The second great tool is chalk pastels. There are a wide range of these at varying prices. They key here is you want CHALK pastels, not oil pastels. I'll bring different brands for you to try and share, so if you don't want to buy chalk yet, feel free to wait. There will be sufficient supply for use at the workshop. Some of the chalk pastels were also purchased at Cowans in Nelson, B.C. (they have 2 brands). If you are ready, here are some options, starting with whatever you can find at the big box stores like this:
  • Other stuff - a big eraser if you have one - if you have kids, borrow one. I'll also bring a bunch. If you have a baby in your life, bring your little pack of portable baby wipes - nice for a quick hand clean up. We'll be sharing some URLs.
  • Paper - all your paper needs will be supplied at the workshop August 9-10. We are using 48 inches x 150 ft rolls of 20 pd bond. If you want to buy paper in the future, the closest supplier I could find is in Kelowna and the details are: CanCADD Reproductions & Engineering Supplies Ltd., 120 - 1715 Dickson Ave.,Kelowna, BC, V1Y 9G6,,,Toll Free: 1.800.605.3355 (Contact: Jamie Meyer).

Part 1: I CAN DRAW -- Hands On Writing on Walls

What if you drew your notes instead of write them? Visually captured what is happening at a meeting or in a classroom? Engage people beyond words and text? How would that change the experience for you and others? We'll explore these questions as we learn to write on walls, the base elements of the practice of graphic recording and facilitation. We'll cover basic techniques and tricks that enable any of us to draw as a way of capturing and communicating ideas with each other. This includes lettering, basic space organization, a look at templates, color and basic iconography.

When we get tired, we'll spend some time looking at the work of diverse graphic facilitators, see how books can inspire us and play a bit with materials.

For a sense of a very short I CAN DRAW session, here is 6 minutes from a lightening fast 45 minute taste of workshop at Northern Voice in 2009. Want a glimpse?

Agenda for Part 1

  • Visual welcome and introductions (including paper hanging 101)
  • Context: a bit about graphic recording and facilitation
  • Materials Part 1
  • Digging In : In can Draw - lines, numbers and letters, using the whole body
  • Images and Icons
  • Space Organization
  • Text and/or visuals (mindmapping, etc.)
  • In action: preparation, doing and recording

Part 2: Using Visuals With Group Processes & Facilitation Methods

This segment of our workshop offers an overview of how visuals can enhance specific group facilitation processes and methods such as World Cafe, Open Space, Appreciative Inquiry, and others. This workshop includes a bit of lecture, part conversation and a hands on experience.See

Agenda for Part 2

  • Visuals and World Cafe
  • Visuals and Open Space
  • Visuals and Appreciative Inquiry

Part 3: Participatory Graphics
Building on our drawing and exploration of visual practices in whole group processes, we'll experiment more with participatory graphics. This is when the pen goes into everyone's hands, not just the graphic recorder's. When people "make their mark" it changes their experience and ownership of the experience. It can open up how they talk and think about things.

We'll look at a range of participatory visual practices including methods such as visual icebreakers, "River of Life," Knowledge Tree," mind mapping, and a host of other examples. Think about your group's situations and needs and we can work to imagine practices that might help your real work!

Agenda for Part 3

  • What kind of work do you do and how can visuals play a role?
  • Visuals in specific facilitation practices
  • Improvisation
  • Visual and kinesthetic aspects
  • Working with resistance

Part 4: More on Graphic Recording

For the traditional graphic recording, there are some particular practices we'll review and practice including: how to listen for key ideas, more on iconography, and organizing space. We'll do a number of practice drawings then review our own work. We'll finish by looking at some of the resources available to "visual practitioners!"

Agenda for Part4

  • TBD
  • Overall workshop debrief and feedback for hosts/trainer


Materials Sources

  • When to use?
    • blended with textual artifacts
    • done FOR people as a report
    • done WITH people as an act of meaning making
  • How to introduce?
    • Team approach - one pays attention to the visual as part of the whole
    • Be bold, courageous and expect to be surprised.

Graphic Facilitation Pilot Workshop with Nancy White, Selkirk College August 9th
(Day 1) (notes by participant Michelle Laurie)

Key points to consider coming out of introductory drawings:
  • Perspective (e.g. river coming from the mountain)
  • People
  • Build repertoire of icons
  • Sense of motion (e.g. lines)
  • Foundational work at the bottom
  • Linking ideas and thoughts, theme in center with cirles around this, river as connector, squiggly
  • Colour as meaning (for people you work with, for cultures, warm/cool colours)
  • Eye goes to heavy mark on the page
  • Recording – Listen, synthesize, share
  • Participatory – visuals are negotiable, stimulate divergent thinking
  • Divergent -----convergent
  • Book – David Sibbet, Visual Meetings
  • Think/thin lines can change image
  • Respect your boundaries – know when to debrief and when to back-off
  • Space and size
  • Curiosity, floating
  • Essential elements for story telling
  • Framing of the page, trees/people
  • Birds above
  • Connected symbol – plug.
  • Arrows, positioning, relationships

  • Test
  • Tape corners
  • Smooth

On paper exercises
  • Arc – whole body/arm – frame
  • Lines – step by step
  • Circles – light multiple lines, wrist/elbow, different sizes
  • Chalk – different sides, smear/Kleenex
  • Contrast compatibility
  • Red/Green – can be invisible to colour blindness
  • Black and dark colours for lettering
  • Lighter force, broad for blending
  • Outline, blend
  • Colours link things
  • Shading

Recap morning
  • Prepare paper and wall, respect the room
  • Test markers
  • Whole body
  • Aware of colour and colour blindness
  • Sizes of letters – palm (titles), 2 fingers (text)
  • Measure paper arms length
  • Watch, learn, do
  • Chalk – dimensionality, moderation, colour, movement

We want to learn:
  • Symbols
  • Words to paper
  • Colour
  • Context/when
  • Planning space
  • Participatory / groups
  • Words/visuals
  • Play time
  • For symbols – google themes

Slide show after lunch:
  • Encapsulate open space report – all people report back on visuals
  • Transfer pen can be empowering
  • Writing on the table together
  • Multicultural
  • People honoured by drawing, making their mark.
  • Share our identity
  • Spring people (spiral guys)
  • Creative disruption
  • The Grove, David Sibbet, Blog, 2nd life- 3rd life private island. 1. Purpose, 2. Process 3. Patterns, 4. Procedure.
  • Visually negotiate
  • mesh work’
  • CoP- to learn to do over time, harvest/share/learn
  • Capture and share artefacts from face to face event
  • We are responsible for capturing this – over time changing, helps us all remember, add post-its
  • Take notes on your lap, give away.
  • Be obvious, Accept offers, Fail cheerfully
  • Harvest – poetry, Oct 3-6 Bowen Island, Sept south of Edmonton – Art of Hosting.
  • Acceptance by group – when to use it?
  • Changes meeting, self documenting
  • Meaning making where verbal doesn’t dominate
  • Draw – working/not working, objects on table symbolically represent, less control by org (power dynamic issue)
  • Be bold, courageous and expect to be surprised
  • Crowds of people, lots of words
  • Limited pallet of colours
  • Line that connects
  • Long-built over conversation, balloons connect L to R
  • Every participant on post-it notes, Intro (knitted into quilt)
  • Key note report out – talk to speaker before, think of space
  • Grove Like Foundation
  • Grouping of words
  • Shading done after, electronically
  • Text oriented – end of meeting, synthesis, simple scroll, mandala to bring together later.
  • Brandy – lovely people style, practice listening to TED talks, talk has ARC, unifying metaphor, pencil, adds then decorates, rough sketch, limited pallet, bottom (who, when, etc).
  • Lots of white space
  • Electronically
  • Timeline – history, over event you can add to this.
  • Template – roads, etc in advance, add post-its, later pretty it up
  • Visual Agenda – grove
  • Christina Merkley – own methodology
  • How to videos on line - Brandy Agerbeck
  • 2 people working together – figure out icons, who does what, trust each other
  • Tree – each branch helps thicken trunk, later add leaf, fruits, etc.
  • Shading at breaks,
  • Circles pull together key things
  • Panel – pencil space for each speaker
  • Brainstorm – can’t predict, leave space, link later or use post-its.

  • For people, start with body
  • Face – joint drawing, ice breaker
  • Vizthink – new book…Gamestorming

Debrief – 3 words each
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