Graphic facilitation – tips to get started

January 15, 2014 | Blog-Admin1 | Let's Talk Visual, Methods & Tools |


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ECC-NAGCH-VONNA2Let’s talk visual. Graphic facilitation strengthens communication in meetings and workshops. Visualizing key insights, steps to take or stakeholders involved adds another layer of communication to our workshop conversation. Drawings – be it a storyline, a process or a metaphor – help us clarifying our thoughts, make us ask new questions. Just start drawing. There is no right and wrong. There is only practice.

Charlotte Nager, Nadia von Holzen, Carmen Eckert, SDC

Everyone can draw – and we draw all the time. In workshops we map crucial steps in a process or visualize key insights, or we simply scribble when talking on the phone.


In October Matti Straub, a change facilitator with wide experience in using visual approaches, introduced interested persons of SDC to the art of visualization. He made us draw from the beginning, and he kept us filling pages with our sketches for an entire hour. The room was filled with laughter and enthusiasm.

We started with the most difficult exercise: Matti Straub asked us to draw a portrait of a colleague. To make this first task easier we were supposed to do so without even looking at the drawing. After that we were invited to visualize more abstract ideas and concepts like goal, network, milestone, problem, meeting, logframe or even international development … The similarity of our proposals was amazing. We could experience a common visual language.

Blog grahic fac portr

Portraits: drawing without looking

In between all the drawing practice we learned the essentials about visualization and the value it adds to meetings, workshops and process facilitation:

What makes it so valuable

Graphic facilitation is talking in stories; it’s an ongoing process of adding stories and questions.

It goes beyond the bullet points and gives more depth to presentations.

Graphic facilitation strengthens communication by adding an additional layer of communication. By creating visual metaphors on key points and abstract concepts the thinking can be brought on a new level that allows to discover new patterns and approaches.

Because people are inspired by visual presentations to ask other questions differently, it can help to find a way out of situations in which you find yourselves stuck.

And how do you get started?

Try – go – dare!

Just do it! There is no right or wrong. People will help you to find a way how to draw certain things. Or you simply ask: How would you draw this?

Remember: Other people are so happy that they don’t have to stand in your shoes in front of a group facilitating, that they will always feel compassion towards you – not criticism.

It is a question of practice.

What is your experience with visualization?





Comments to“Graphic facilitation – tips to get started”

  1. I shall try it on migration and agriculture. It is daring since I am not visual at all!


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