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?

Reflection

Information Discovery

One method of teaching is to directly feed information into the minds of students. In training, however, it is much more effective to provide participants with plenty of opportunities to deduce the information you want them to learn on their own. One powerful method for discovering new information and gaining new insights is reflection.

Videos

A trainer can show a carefully selected short video to participants during the training session that touches upon one or more points related to the training. The trainer may then ask participants to split into groups and collaboratively reflect on such a video they have just seen deducing lessons and coming up with new insights from that video. Showing a video is a highly engaging activity for participants and is a sure way to get and maintain their full attention. Each group of participants can write down their reflections on a sheet of paper then come up and present them in front of the rest of the participants.

Games

A trainer may provide participants with a game during the training session that has specific training goals. After the game is over the trainer may start asking participants about what they have learnt from that game. The trainer may also ask them about how they felt at specific times during the game. By allowing participants to reflect on their own feelings and on the development and outcome of the game they have just played they are often able to come up with new insights and lessons from such experience they just had.

Self Discovery

During attending the graphic facilitation workshop, the trainers asked us to draw the process of making coffee. After we finished the drawing activity, they asked each of us to look at his or her drawing of the coffee making process and try to discover something about his or her own personality. I kept gazing at my drawing for quite a while without being able to discover anything really meaningful about myself. Then it suddenly struck me that the drawings clearly indicated that I am a multitasking person who likes to do several things in parallel since I did not draw the process in steps, like most of my colleagues had done, but rather drew all components of the coffee making process as if they were happening simultaneously without a specific order or sequence. I like to finish things quickly and reach for the end goal in a short time. Such was another example of using reflection to gain insight after a training activity this time being a self reflection.

Wrapping Up

After providing participants with ample opportunity to reflect on a video you have shown them and express their findings or reflect on a game they have just played during their training you can then proceed to summarize and comment on their reflections perhaps stressing some of them, modifying others and even adding some insights of your own. Reflection is a powerful technique that can provide participants with deep insights and high rate of information retention if used appropriately by the trainer in various occasions during training.

How else can reflections be used other than after watching videos, playing training games and making drawings?

Peer Feedback Boosts Performance

Feedback and Performance

One powerful means for improving one’s performance and learning is getting feedback on his current performance in order to be able to act upon such feedback and improve his performance. During a training session it is crucial that the trainer provides useful and balanced feedback to trainees as he observes their performance as they go through various training activities completing numerous tasks. In addition to receiving feedback from the trainer, it is highly useful that a trainee receives feedback from his colleagues as well.

Mutual Benefit

When the trainer asks trainees to provide feedback to each other both the receiver and the provider of the feedback benefit a lot. The provider of the feedback gets a chance to carefully examine the performance of his partner and come up with conclusions in addition to communicating such conclusions to his partner. This makes him see clearly how good performance can be like and what to avoid. The trainee on the receiving end of course benefits from the feedback given to him by his partner in seeing his performance more clearly through the eyes of someone else which helps him further improve his performance next time he is carrying out a similar activity.

Positive Language

When providing feedback one has to be positive and use positive language. If the provider of feedback tries to show off his superiority by attempting to find all large and small mistakes in the performance of a trainee and expresses them in a strong negative language this may overwhelm the person receiving the feedback and totally shatter any kind of self confidence he might have had to the extent of disabling him completely from improving at all in the future in some cases. Feedback therefore must be balanced and the wording of the feedback itself should be all positive.

Graphic Facilitation

During a graphic facilitation workshop I had attended, the trainers asked participants to pair up and provide one another with feedback about their drawings. We were asked to first list 3 positive aspects of the drawings then after that mention 3 improvements that can be made. We notice here that one should always start first with the positive when providing feedback. Even when the time comes for pointing out the negative this should be done using positive words such as labeling them as “suggested improvements” rather than “mistakes” or “negative points.” Such feedback that uses all positive language not only informs the feedback receiver but also boosts his self confidence and enables him to drastically improve his performance.

Training of Trainers

When delivering training of trainers (TOT) workshops I ask participants to first list the positive points they see in demos of their colleagues then suggest improvements after that. Sometimes if the main aim is to boost trainee confidence one can ask for positive feedback only and prohibit any feedback on negative points for the time being.

Conclusion

Although receiving feedback from the trainer can be highly useful yet having trainees exchange feedback can be more so. Peer feedback also allows lots of feedback to be provided simultaneously in a short period of time in the case of pairing trainees with one another or dividing them into groups.