Sparking attention with visual workshop agendas

October 30, 2017 | Blog Admin | Let's Talk Visual, Methods & Tools |


Rating: 4.8 out of 5


aP1420370aPresenting the workshop agenda is a unique moment for sparking energy, motivation and curiosity. A visual agenda gives a first clue what will happen in the workshop and serves as orientation all along the workshop. As facilitator, you can show where the group is in the process; and as participant you know what will happen next and how you can engage.

Marie Marchand, SDC and Nadia von Holzen, Learning Moments

During a Lunch & Learn event at SDC we created several visual versions of agendas. We were playing with coloured pencils and wax crayons. Our starting point was this classic agenda:

Agenda classic

How do you feel? Probably “safe”, you are in your comfort zone; you know that kind of proceeding well. But are you “enthusiastic” or “inspired” and ager to start the journey…?

Have a look at these versions: What do you observe?

Agenda 1
Photos: variations from our Lunch & Learn event drawn by participants

The visual versions capture our attention, invite us to look. That is exactly what we want as facilitators. Attention. Curiosity. Inquiry. In the hand-drawn agenda participants can (literally) picture in what kind of activity they will engage in.

There are different possibilities how to represent a workshop agenda in a visual way:

Pie chart

This format allows for a quick overview of what will happen. It is suitable for shorter meetings of one hour to one day. For inspiration check out the Gamestorming Website.


This version is dynamic (see the photos form our Lunch & Learn event). It visualizes the flow of the workshop, that can be a process of one day up to several days. The possibilities to cate a flow agenda are endless. Follow your inspiration; and if you need some guidance get inspired by used agendas of others on the web (e.g. use the tags: visual agenda + sketchnoting on Google).

Big picture

This combined version informs about key aspects of the workshop: purpose, people and a rough agenda. Other elements can be added. We don’t need always a fleshed-out agenda, but we have to be clear why we have the meeting and what we want walk a way with. For variations see the website of Image Think and the three variations Grove tools is offering: River rafting, treasure map and meeting room.

IMG_6762Photo: Drawing visual agendas during Lunch & Learn event 

Visual agendas usually combine easy drawings with words. It needs not an artist but a little bit of practice and above all the appetite to try. Start with some warm-up doodling then make a first sketch. It is as simple as that, seriously.

A visual agenda is an amazing working instrument that goes beyond invitation. You can play with it. For example, during the workshop, the agenda gives orientation about where you are in the reflection and learning process. At the end of a workshop, it serves as template for the After Action Review. And you can also invite participants to write their feedback on little post-it notes to specific sessions as part of the evaluation of the workshop.

Always remember: To work visually is not art work, that’s not the idea nor the purpose. We visualize for supporting our reflection and conversation, for creating a shared understanding, and for learning actively. Plus, drawing is really a fun activity to do!

So just try it! You will love it!

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