Graphic Facilitation

What is Graphic Facilitation?

Graphic facilitation (GF) is the use of rapid drawing to communicate ideas visually to a group of people or to record ideas that a group of people are creating in a visual form. What makes visual communication superior is that it sticks to the mind more strongly, packs a lot of information into one single entity that can be absorbed by the mind in one go and that it creates connections between elements easily and clearly. Using drawings also makes concepts much clearer and reduces ambiguity.

Coffee Making Process

When I attended a 3-day graphic facilitation workshop the trainers asked each of us to draw the process of making coffee on an A3 piece of paper. After completing this activity we found out that each of us had a different view of the coffee making process. It meant something different to each one of us. From this simple activity we realized that such a simple concept as coffee making could have a different meaning to each of us. Putting it in drawing helped us realize that. Similarly, when graphic facilitation is used in meetings it helps clarify what the speaker means by his words instead of having each attendee in the meeting interpreting those words in a different way which can cause misunderstanding resulting in bad communication.

GF During Workshops

Likewise, graphic facilitation can also be used during workshops to boost communication, improve retention and enhance engagement. The trainer or facilitator uses rapid drawing while he is explaining concepts in order to make them clearer and easier to digest. The trainer may even encourage participants to use drawings themselves during activities such as group work presentations.

Graphic facilitation can also be used during conferences or unconferences to keep a visual record of what is being said during the conference sessions.

Visual Language

Wh-questions

Graphic facilitation has its own visual language which is composed of a number of elements. Those elements attempt to answer the 5 basic wh-questions: who; where/ when; what ; how and why. Each of those questions has a specific set of drawings to answer it.

Icons

In addition to those 5 basic sets of drawings which answer the 5 main wh-questions, graphic facilitation also employs icons heavily. Again icons are drawn rapidly in order to communicate universal things such as “cell phone,” “laptop,” “Internet,” “Wi-Fi” and even abstract concepts such as “peace,” and “love.”

Metaphor

Moreover, visual metaphor can also be used in a drawing in order to enhance communication of meaning instantly as one takes a first look at the drawing. Finally, graphic facilitation employs the use of templates in order to make graphic recording faster and easier.

Conclusion

Graphic facilitation and graphic recording are techniques that can help boost communication among people during meetings, conferences and training workshops. If graphic facilitation was to spread among people and businesses a lot of deep problems that are rooted into bad communication would be greatly reduced.

Where else do you think graphic facilitation can be used?

Enhanced Internal Communication in Organizations

Employee Communication Skills

Many organizations suffer tremendously in terms of wasted time, energy and resources not to mention frustration, due to poor communication skills of its employees. Exceptional communication skills among employees of a company lead to a seamless workflow and a peaceful, highly productive environment at the workplace. Good communication skills are essential for all employees and not just for those dealing directly with clients such as customer service and sales employees. Internal communication among employees can make or break an organization.

Communication at Multinational Companies

If the organization is a multinational and multicultural one having employees from two or more different cultures and countries the issue of communication could be even more sever. In such cases selecting employees who have very good communication skills from the start is essential. In addition, communication skills training should be provided to all employees in order to keep communication flowing smoothly particularly across different cultures.

Indians and Egyptians Speaking

Different accents among people from different cultures who need to communicate with each other could present a great communication challenge. Let’s say a large organization has both Indian and Egyptian employees. The difference in accent among the two nationalities when they speak English is great. It could thus be a great challenge for members of the two groups to maintain good communication through verbal means alone.

Double Channel Communication

There are many ways by which communication among employees at any organization can be improved. One very handy and highly effective way to boost communication is to use more than one communication channels simultaneously to communicate the same message. The simplest form of this is to use verbal and written communication simultaneously to communicate a message. For instance you may send an email to someone (written communication) then call him and explain the email further (verbal communication). In such case you are using more than one communication channel at the same time namely verbal as well as written communication. This will boost the understanding as well as the retention of the communicated message.

Multi-Channel Communication

Besides verbal and written communication there is body language and using drawings. Intonation also can be a further subchannel that can be used to convey a lot of meaning. Let us say you are making some simple diagrams and drawings in addition to labeling such drawings and adding text while verbally explaining something to another person. Here you would be using three communication channels simultaneously namely the verbal, the written as well as the drawings. There is very little chance your message would not be understood in such a case.

Conclusion

Superior communication skills among all employees at an organization are essential for the success of that organization in particular if it includes employees of different nationalities. Using multiple communication channels simultaneously to communicate the same message can be a simple yet highly effective technique to boost communication among employees.

Have you suffered before from a situation of bad communication that caused you a lot of frustration at work? If so, tell us about it.

Listening Skills of the Trainer

Listening Skills of Trainees and Trainer

In many soft skills training programs, such as communication skills training, the trainer works on developing the listening skills of trainees through various training activities one of which is the think and listen technique. It is even more essential that a trainer himself have exceptional communication skills on top of which are superior listening skills in order to perform well during any training program he is delivering.

Great listening skills are not a luxury but they are skills that any competent trainer cannot afford to do without. A competent trainer would make use of his exceptional listening skills in many occasions.

Buffering Multiple Trainee Questions

When a trainee asks a question then a second trainee asks another question and then a third asks yet another two or more questions a trainer with good listening skills would be able to listen to all those questions first and then start answering them in one go. This buffering of several questions in a row in the mind of the trainer allows him to link the answers of related questions with one another and provide the big picture in one continuous answer.

Sure providing such a combined answer for multiple trainee questions needs superior listening skills from the trainer. Using such question buffering technique also displays to participants the greatness of the trainer and the high professional level he has reached making them put even more trust in him and show even greater respect for him.

Absorbing the Agitated Trainee

Another case where superior listening skills would prove handy to the trainer is when one of the trainees attempts to provide a long passionate comment expressing his own opinion with vigor aiming at refuting something the trainer or another participant has been saying. If the trainer in such a case attempts to cut such participant short prematurely the trainee might become highly dissatisfied, may even hold a grudge, carry strong negative emotions and demonstrate a negative attitude throughout the rest of the training.

If, however, the trainer allowed such trainee to speak his heart out, while carefully listening to him and mentally analyzing what he is saying, the trainer would be able to let the steam out from such participant. This containment of the agitated trainee by the trainer can even result in highly positive emotions building up in the heart of that participant, towards the trainer and the training as a whole, which may show up by the end of the training program.

After such trainee has completed his long and passionate comment, the trainer can then start giving his comment on it in a calms and to-the-point manner. This would never have been possible had the trainer lacked superior listening skills.

Conclusion

Listening skills are one of the most important communication skills that a trainer must master way before attempting to improve them in his or her trainees.

What other training situations can you think of in which a trainer would benefit from having strong listening skills?