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Graphic Facilitation: Get Visual in Your Next Meeting

Graphic Facilitation
September 5, 2023 10:30 am

Have you ever thought that the way you record and share information from your meetings could use a little inspiration? Every meeting leader has at some point thought, “did I capture that discussion in a helpful way? Will anyone ever look at, think about, or remember what came out of my last meeting?”

Graphic facilitation is the practice of using words and images to create a conceptual map of a conversation, and most of us have seen examples of the large-scale posters that come out of these sessions. Creating large scale imagery can sound like a tall order for anyone who dropped art class after grade 7, but there’s no way around it – a shared image supports longer term memory of the discussion and has greater impact and buy-in. So how can we start incorporating more visual elements into the way we capture information in our meetings?

From small scale to large, here are our suggestions for bringing more visual elements into your recording:

Colors, Shapes and Arrows 

These classic – and underused – flip chart icons don’t necessitate any drawing skill at all. Make sure you use color often and strategically, change the size of your fonts, and box key concepts where appropriate. You can link concepts with arrows or other connectors to illustrate relationships.

Get Everyone Else Drawing

To liven up mid-meeting check-ins and exit surveys, ask attendees to visually capture their feelings or responses through metaphors, shapes, stick figures, etc. To slow down the conversation, when appropriate, ask table groups to capture their response to the discussion or decision in a collectively drawn image. Do this round-robin starting with each person adding one element to drawing, or have the group choose 1 – 2 members to draw the group’s collective ideas.  Group efforts are always less daunting than solo art projects and it can trigger great sub-group discussion.


Mind-maps are an excellent way to group and organize ideas during brainstorming and require very little artistic prowess. Can’t even draw a straight line? No problem, use curved lines for the branches that connect sub-items to the central concept.

Use Graphic Templates

See, for example, Tom Benthin’s subgroup template1.

Prepare the flip charts with graphic elements in advance. This solves the challenge of drawing in front of the group and allows you to practice as you test different layouts and improve your skills

Ready to try out graphic facilitation for an upcoming meeting? Start practicing any number of the great hints we found here:  Don’t let a small office space stop you. If you don’t have a ton of space, practice drawing the key icons on flip chart paper hung on the back of your office door.

Good luck, and we’d love to see some samples of your unleashed skills. Email us a photo of your meeting notes that use some graphic elements – or suggest another graphic tip for facilitators to try.


1Tom Benthin, Graphic Facilitator:

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