Monday, 3 November 2014

Graphic Facilitation & Recording Skills for Absolute Beginners Part 6

Welcome to the final part of my series of workshop-blogs. At the end of the Part 5 I gave you a group exercise about planning a party. As I said then, this exercise was originally devised for working with individuals who have particular difficulties: Substitute planning a party with helping someone to plan activities they would like to be involved in and you have a person-centred tool for supporting people. Some of the exercises later are similarly derived from person-centred working, but could easily be adapted for working in groups, organisations and businesses.

Templates and Visual Metaphors

Templates are visual guidelines for directing a process or discussion. Basic templates probably originated in the work of mathematicians, scientists and engineers, but have been used in business and in organisations for many years as part of planning and in management training. For example, simple matrix drawings have been used to illustrate or support various concepts across many disciplines.
I designed this one with feint lines for a recorder or a trainer to ink in and write on as required. There are many other basic templates, some more complex than others.
As graphic facilitation and recording grew we began to see other template ideas emerge. Often these were designed to serve a particular function either by employing a relevant illustration or by using a visual metaphor for that function. Take, for example The Grove's two meeting start-up templates; one is a straightforward illustration of a meeting room with areas to write in the agenda, roles, rules and outcomes....
©The Grove
...the other uses the metaphor of a raft on a river to illustrate and encourage the process of the meeting.
©The Grove
Over the years The Grove has developed a large range of templates for use by graphic facilitators and recorders and to suit an array of different business and organisational situations. They have also developed business manuals which incorporate a lot of these and much more. See

Ready printed templates and digital file versions can be purchased from various companies which either specialise in products for graphic recorders/facilitators or work in fields where graphic facilitation and recording are widely used. An example of the latter is the field I used to work in; services for people who have learning/developmental difficulties. Person-centred approaches to supporting people with disabilities was at the forefront in using graphic facilitation. Various styles of person-centred planning are based around specific templates which enable planning meetings to be directed towards the wishes and needs of the person involved. For example, this is a MAPS template:

While it may be useful to have this kind of guidance for p.c.p., the downside of templates, in all fields of work, is that they may direct a meeting one way when the conversation could usefully go in an entirely different direction. In business and organisational situations it's possible for the facilitator to have a preconceived idea of what the meeting is about and should achieve. The facilitator may use a specific design of template to direct the meeting and then find it's not working because other issues and needs arise in the conversation. The skill required here is to be able to change tack and develop a new chart. For this reason I prefer not to use ready printed or pre-prepared charts, but, rather have template designs committed to memory or recorded in a notebook that I can then reproduce as I need them. This is also one of the reasons why my favourite p.c.p. style is 'Personal Futures Planning' which uses multiple charts, each with a very simple template, in a very flexible approach. In actual fact, most of the basic templates are very simple and easy to reproduce. A lot of other template designs are expansions of basic ideas and with a little creative thinking I think you can quite easily produce your own version of any one of them to suit the situation.

Some templates and many of the charts produced at meetings or events are based around a visual metaphor. That is, an idea that represents the meaning of the discussion(s) is given visual form on the chart and often becomes the main theme of the chart. Here are some examples I have gathered.
Annual-Report-v21 - Tom Benthin
color_acorn - Mariah Howard Visual Facilitation
pcl_blog -
TheStruggle - Mariah Howard Visual Facilitation
MovieVision © The Grove

Most charts, however, tell the story of the meeting and the talk or discussion and if they employ a metaphor it is often only part of the whole. In the following example Anthony Weeks used a journey metaphor, with a signpost and a road, as part of a larger recording of a business development discussion.

Quite often a recorded or facilitated discussion will involve identifying a process. Depending on the nature of the process the scribe may use a template design as the basis for the chart or s/he may develop something entirely original. Because such 'process graphics' may have a wider audience than those involved in the meeting, the client may want to keep and display the graphic or have copies made. There is also a market for having the graphic re-drawn and produced as a printed poster, as in the following example:

A common area for process graphics is the use of a 'History' template to record the development of a product, a service or a business.
©  “Graphic History” Graphic Guide © 1996 The Grove

Here are some exercises for you have a go at with some friends or colleagues.
1. Getting to A Meeting. The first exercise involves the use of a simple SWOT template. As with the “Planning a Party' exercise there should be one person acting as graphic facilitator; one person chairing/leading and others participating in the planning meeting. You can move the roles around from how they were for the previous exercise.

Your General Manager has to get to an important early morning meeting on the day after tomorrow (pick a place for the meeting that is a fairly long distance away). Budgets are tight, but he needs to be on top form for the meeting. Using a Swot analysis (with graphics) decide how he will get there.
2. A History Map
There are two options for this exercise. Move roles around in the group again depending on which option you choose as the most relevant to you.

Option one is to identify a focus person in your group and map his/her life story. You may need one person to be a facilitator who asks questions and directs the discussion; you will need one to be the graphic facilitator and others to participate as friends, acquaintances, etc. The facilitators need to work sensitively with the focus person to bring out the story of his/her life (as far as s/he is willing to reveal) and record it as a graphic.

Option two is to identify and record the history of something relevant and familiar to your group.
This is an example 'History' template for you to copy or you can devise your own ideas for the graphic:
© The Grove

3. Solution Circle – A creative problem solving tool.
A Solution Circle is a person centred tool, designed by Marsha Forest and Jack Pearpoint. It is excellent for getting unstuck and teasing out logical practical steps to take in any situation.
© 1996 Inclusion Press

Again, move roles around in the group – make sure everyone has had a turn at doing the graphic.
Time required: No more than thirty minutes. People per Solution Circle: Best with 5-9.
Roles to be played:
  • Problem Presenter (focus person)
  • Process Facilitator (team manager, time keeper)
  • Graphic Recorder
  • amazingly creative Brainstorm Team
Step One:
(6 minutes) The
problem presenter will have 6 uninterrupted minutes to outline the problem. The job of the process facilitator is to keep time and make sure no one interrupts. The recorder takes notes (creates a graphic of the presented problem). Everyone else (the brainstormers) listens. If the problem presenter stops talking before the six minutes elapse, everyone else stays silent until the 6 minutes pass. This is key! The problem presenter gets 6 uninterrupted minutes.
Step two:
(6 minutes) This is a brainstorm. Everyone chimes in with ideas about creative solutions to what they just heard. It is not a time to clarify the problem or to ask questions. It is not a time to give speeches, lectures or advice. The process facilitator must make sure this is a brainstorm. Everyone gets a chance to give their brilliant ideas. No one must be allowed to dominate. The problem presenter listens - without interrupting. He/she must not talk or respond. The recorder charts the solution ideas.
Step 3:
(6 minutes) Now the group can have a dialogue led by the problem presenter. This is time to explore and clarify the problem. Focus on the positive points only and not what can't be done. The recorder develops the chart accordingly.
Step 4:
(6 minutes) The First Step. The focus person and the group decide on first steps that are doable within the next 3 days. At least ONE step should be initiated within 24 hours. This is critical. Research shows that unless a first step is taken almost immediately, people do not get out of their ruts. A coach from the group volunteers to phone or see the person within 3 days and check if they took their first step.
Finally the group just does a round of words to describe the experience and the recorder gives the chart(s) to the focus person.

Experience shows that people love this exercise and find that it generates action. It does not guarantee a solution, but it usually gets people "unstuck" and at least points to the next logical step. 

The Final Bit

I would like to end this series of workshop-blogs with a round-up of important things to remember when you are out there, in front of a group of people, recording and facilitating their discussions. But first, I want to thank you for taking the time to read my work and for getting involved.

When you are doing the work, it is important to always be working for the group of people in front of you and, as far as possible, to try to meet their needs at the time in order that they can get their task completed successfully. Always be present; that is, be totally attentive, listening carefully, interpret and graphically record the discussions without making any judgements or biasing how you record, keep up and draw quickly. Listen for images suggested in the discussion, use colour to code different levels of the recording, and to add meaning in terms of mood and feelings. Where appropriate, enter into dialogue with participants to get their ideas for images and colours, etc. Above all, keep it simple.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Graphic Facilitation & Recording Skills for Absolute Beginners Part 5

Hello and welcome to the penultimate part of my workshop-blogs covering the basic skills of graphic facilitation and recording. In the first four parts, I have tried to outline each of the basic skills and techniques and I hope you have found them useful enough for you have a go yourself and practice using them. I expect you have already being putting them all together by practising some basic recordings of conversations or talks; some of you may have already attempted some facilitation work or adapted the information into work you already do.

Nevertheless, let's have a look at putting together all that I have covered so far so that you can set out in your new role or career as a graphic facilitator/recorder. I'm going to begin with the equipment you can use as I have already been asked about this. The basic requirements, of course, are something to write and draw with and something to write and draw on. In the early days this was usually a large sheet of white paper taped to a wall or board and any kind of felt-nibbed marker pen. While there is a greater choices of pens now, this is as good a way to start out as any.
Your paper should be about 1.5 metres tall and at least 3 metres in length and fixed at a comfortable height so that you can reach both the top and bottom of the sheet easily. Much will depend on where you are working and what you have to fix it on. Sometimes there is no suitable wall space and you may end up working on a table, perhaps laying it sideways on top of another. Alternatively, these days, many scribes carry lightweight foam board to work on. Eventually, you may invest in one of the portable board system. To fix the paper to a wall use wide decorators masking tape or something similar that will not damage the surface of the wall (always test it before you put up the paper – you do not want a repair bill). The paper itself should be suitable for writing on with your pens, but it must not bleed; that is, the ink from your pens needs to stay stable and not spread out. Medium weight hot pressed copy papers (150gsm) are usually okay. Lighter paper is more likely to bleed. Some papers will bleed through a little to the reverse side so be careful what you fix it to; if necessary, put another layer of paper underneath.

There are many different suitable pens available, some of them specifically developed for this work. As you could be working with the pens all day long, I would advise that you only use water based or non-toxic markers rather than permanent markers, which often give off fumes that could make you ill. Essentially, you need to have pens in a basic range of colours with medium sized nibs (around 4 to 6 mm wide) for general work. There are various shapes of nib that you can use, each useful for different types of lines or shading.
 Wedge-shaped nibs are good all round tools useful for drawing both thick and thin lines and for shading. When you are having to work quickly, having one of these in your hand saves needing to swap pens to make different types of mark. Bullet-shaped nibs make consistent lines and I prefer them for writing. Brush nibs can be useful for filling in and shading. You may also want fine-points for some detailed drawing and wide nibbed pens for larger areas of colour, although some people prefer chalks or crayons for this. There are many different pens on the market. Some are the use and dispose type, while others are refillable. If you read through some of the many GF/GR websites, pages and blogs on the internet you will soon discover which are favourites amongst the community. In the end you have to try a few and see which you prefer.

So, its the beginning of a meeting or event and you are standing in front of a large blank sheet of paper. Where do you start? A lot depends on what sort of meeting or event it is and what your role is. It is important that this is clearly understood by yourself and the organisers when you are contracted to do the job.

Let's start with a basic graphic recording task. This is by far the most flexible type of work in terms of what you can produce on paper. For example, let's say you are watching and listening to a talk; there's no direct involvement between you and the speaker, You are there to interpret graphically what the speaker says and to give other people listening something more to remember it by. You will probably start with a headline title and then record in straightforward, more or less linear fashion the information delivered. Or will you?

Well, again, it depends.... If you have little or no idea what the speaker is going to say, beforehand, then a linear approach makes sense. You can do this in various ways; across the sheet in lines, left to right, down the sheet, top to bottom or as a continuous path. Or any combination of these that works for you.
Linear recordings can range from simple line and text to creative works employing icons, images and graphic metaphors.

However, it can be really helpful to know a little more about the content of the talk or discussion beforehand. For example, some topics lend themselves to more of a mind mapping approach where links and connections are required. One way to record this might be to start in the centre or top centre of the sheet. Here you can have the flexibility of working outwards from the main topic(s) and recording connections graphically as they arise. It also gives you the opportunity to do a bit of facilitation by identifying and recording other connections.
Eventually you will find that you can use a combination of the mind-mapping and linear approaches to produce creative, easily readable recordings. However, whatever approach you use, always make sure that you regularly step back and look at what you are doing. You will be working close to your chart and it can all too easily become unbalanced and misrepresent the discussion or talk. You need to see it from the participants' perspective as often as possible so that you deliver as accurate a recording as you can.

Graphic facilitation may employ all the same approaches as graphic recording, but the difference is in the purpose and level of control. Whereas graphic recording can be simply that - recording, facilitation involves enhancing and giving meaning to the discussion and enabling the participants to find new meanings and insights. The role of a graphic facilitator is to help a group do its work and achieve its aims by creating a large chart detailing their discussions as they happen. The chart and the work of the facilitator allows the participants to see the conversation take shape, to go back and remember how it developed, to gain a deeper understanding of the topics discussed, to find new connections, identify goals, plan strategies and to work together more productively. It means having a greater level of responsibility to the group and being able to direct the conversation. There are also a number of additional tools and approaches that the graphic facilitator may use.
The graphic facilitator interacts directly with the group he/she is working with, actively listening to their discussions, drawing images and writing notes, and directly involving them in the the development of the chart without distracting them from their topic. It's a delicate balance, achieved by intervening, only when it's appropriate, to check that the recorded information is correct and the imagery is suitable and, sometimes, to ask for suggestions for images and visual metaphors. These activities help to build trust with the participants, particularly if they have never experienced graphic facilitation before. Where the facilitator has been engaged to have direct control of the conversation with specific goals for the meeting in mind, it may be to ask questions relating to the topic itself. Sometimes the graphic facilitator works in conjunction with a group facilitator who will ask those types of questions and direct the conversation.

There is a range of additional skills and techniques that the graphic facilitator can and eventually, must use. They are widely used by professional facilitators and experienced managers in the context of enabling meetings to work and be productive. Graphic facilitators need to become familiar with these tools and approaches and be able to interpret them in a graphic form. Fortunately, much of the work in this area has already been done with the design of some common visual templates, although there is always room for some creative re-interpretation. Most of these were created for use with 'process tools' such as visioning, goal setting, etc. Some process tools were originally devised with a graphic element to them; for example, those that employ matrix recording. A few well known graphic facilitation companies sell printed or digital file versions of many of these templates for use by managers and facilitators. However, I feel that an original, drawn in the meeting version will always have more impact. There are various arguments for and against using templates. In the next part we'll have a look at a number of different templates and some of the arguments about using them.

Another technique that graphic facilitators can use, both for interpreting processes or simply enhancing the content of a discussion, is the use of visual metaphors. This involves basing the whole or a significant part of the graphic around a single visual idea that represents and interprets the content of the meeting. The idea may be something that you prepare prior to the meeting or it may spring from something contributed in the discussion. Again, in the next part we'll have a look at some examples of how these visual metaphors may be used. I will also include a number of exercises that you can have a go at.

In the meantime, I want to finish this part with a group exercise. If you are working alone on learning the skills of scribing, you will need to find some friends or colleagues to help you out. If there are several of you learning, you can rotate the facilitator role as you do the exercise. This exercise is about planning a party and it involves the use of a template. In reality you wouldn't go to the lengths in this exercise in order to simply plan a party, but you might use this same process for planning something much more complex. The process of this exercise was borrowed from work with people who have disabilities and in that context the precise steps to be used is important.

Planning a Party
This is a group exercise (4 or more) with one person acting as graphic facilitator; one person chairing/leading and others participating in the planning meeting.
Stage 1
As a group decide what ….

Stage 2
Based on above, suggest and record 20 party games or activities to do.

Stage 3

Identify the group’s 3 favourite ideas from above and complete the following:
Stage 4
Do an action plan:

Friday, 18 April 2014

Graphic Facilitation & Recording Skills for Absolute Beginners Part 4

In Part 3, I covered “interpreting” what you hear in meetings, etc., into a readable visual format, giving the ideas and thoughts expressed some meaning and, ultimately, enhancing that meaning for the people you are working with. Then I introduced a practical exercise in “learning to see”.

The point about learning to see is so that you can develop the ability to draw simple images from your imagination to match the discussions you are recording. Each time you do you can add the image to the vocabulary of images that you use. However, it is worth developing, at least a small vocabulary of things to draw before you first start. I have found it useful to carry a little notebook or sketchpad of these to refer to. You can arrange these however you like depending on what works for you; it could be alphabetical or grouped in subjects, etc. Note though that everything you draw subsequently may need to be modified in line with what you hear from the people you are working with – it’s their images you need to listen for and draw, not yours.

Let’s have a look at some basic images you might need:
Firstly, some iconography and organising shapes; these are the images you use to highlight the pieces of information you distil from the conversation and to make connections. The classic source for these, and used in many different areas of graphic design, is the world of comics.

Here’s an example of how a conversation might develop and be recorded using some of these shapes:

This is just one example of the many formats that may be used to record a discussion or talk.

Now let’s have a look at drawing people. Almost every discussion you facilitate or record will be about or involve people. Inevitably you will need to include imagery of people. Some clever (and fast working) artists may be able to draw likenesses or cartoons of specific individuals, but most of the time all that’s needed is to be able to represent people simply and succinctly. A stick man and a label can be all that’s required to identify an individual.

‘Star-people’ and other simple images can be useful to give the graphic more impact and you can create your own versions as your style develops.

Faces and expressions can enhance the work in many situations:

Circle faces can be used to characterize specific individuals. Here’s a fun exercise to do to practice this.

In Pairs: Personalising a face – Observe your partner’s face; pick out character features and draw onto a circle face. THIS IS NOT PORTRAITURE....getting a likeness is not important; just record some things that identify the person.

Objects and buildings - Here are some common images that can be your starting point (I’ve used clipart for these):

Before we have a look at lettering, a word or two about colour. Colour can be used to connect ideas, give meaning, represent identity and express moods and emotions. Multi-coloured charts can look terrific, but often it’s a good idea to plan ahead and restrict your palette to just a few colours. This is especially true if you have an idea beforehand what the meeting will be about. You can then make some design decisions before you start about, for example, what type of idea/subject/level of importance each colour may represent.

Deep colours that can easily be seen are best for imagery and writing; light colours are best for highlighting, for tone, shading and fills, and for shadows.

Each colour can represent a different mood or feeling; colours towards the red end of the spectrum tend to enhance ideas of heat, passion and excitement, while those towards the blue end are calmer and cooler. You might like to think about all the colours you will be using and identify the moods they could represent for yourself.

Be careful about how you use the colour BLACK. It’s fine for outlines and basic drawing, but if it’s used as a fill or shading, it can give the graphic a dark, somber or depressive feel.

And now, Words and Lettering; this isn’t just writing. For one thing, you will be ‘drawing’ words quite a lot larger than you are normally used to. Like the imagery, the words you write have to communicate the ideas arising in the discussion and must be legible. At the same time you have to work fast to keep up with the discussion. So there is a play off between writing as fast as you can while making your writing as legible as possible. It also needs to engage the participants.

Keep it legible! 
                    Make it exciting!
      Work fast!!

There are many different styles of lettering you could use, so long as you choose ones that you can execute clearly and quickly. You may want to create a distinctive style for yourself, but this must not overpower the graphic and is, perhaps, best restricted to headings and titles. The more you practice, the more you will learn how to keep everything balanced.

Use colour in lettering creatively and sensitively, keeping to the guidelines I mentioned above. Most of the writing will be like this, so a single black or deep colour pen is all that’s needed. I prefer ones with a bullet shaped nib for this. Usually you will only use styled lettering for emphasis, headings, titles, etc. Here you can use more colour and create artistic lettering. Those that need the most emphasis probably need to be in capital letters; others can be mixed upper and lower case lettering. Mostly you will be writing and drawing directly as a record of the event – you will need to write clearly (printing is best) and quickly – try to draw images as much as you can rather than just writing words, but you will need both.
These are a few examples of lettering styles often seen in graffiti, chalkboard signs and cartoons. It includes 3D effects such as dropped shadows and block 3D letters which follow the same principles as drawing 3D objects; shading, shadows and surface reflections. We didn’t look at surface reflections in the ‘learning to see’ section, but I challenge you to discover how these appear for yourself. Take time to study examples of graffiti and cartoon art to see how the artists create these effects and try copying them.

In the next part I’ll cover putting together all that you have learned so far. I’ll also talk about templates designed for specific types of meetings. In the meantime, try to find opportunities to practice; doodle in meetings or do some graphic recordings of videos such as TED talks or lectures.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Graphic Facilitation and Recording Skills for Absolute Beginners - Part 3

Key Skills Continued

In Part 2, I introduced you to two of the key skills of graphic facilitation and recording. I began with some simple introductory drawing exercises as this is the area that tends to worry people most. But, as I then pointed out, the most important skill is being able to listen. This is using a range of interpersonal techniques and behaviour to ensure that you fully understand what the people you are working with are saying.

A third skill that you need, and the second most important one, is interpreting what you hear into some kind of order; prioritizing ideas, making connections and identifying what images you will use to highlight them. Brandy Agerbeck, in her book, ‘The Graphic Facilitators Guide’, calls this “thinking”. The book is a great resource for what it involves, practically. Essentially, it’s working out how you will represent the processes and ideas being expressed into an easily readable visual format and give it meaning. Most often, the things you will need to draw will be straightforward lines and basic shapes like boxes and arrows, along with writing key words and phrases. Simple imagery can also be used to enhance the meaning. 

By now, you should have realised that being able to draw like an artist is not a requirement for you to be a graphic facilitator/recorder. You do need to be able draw some basic imagery and you will have to be able to draw quickly. This takes practice. Drawing is a skill and like any skill it can be learned and when you have learned how to draw things you need to keep practicing until they are second nature. It is also very useful to be able to draw things from your imagination or memory. Again, this takes practice and the more you practice the easier it becomes. Graphic facilitation is not about producing ‘works of art’, but because it involves drawing and communication we can borrow some learning methods and exercises from art education.

Learning to See

It’s not always easy to see the basic shapes in the world around us –
When we learn to recognise them we can use the shapes as a sort of coding to help us break down the real world into easy-to-draw building blocks –

Here's a 

and then a

and now we have

....a house. 

One way to be able to do graphic facilitation is to learn by rote all the basic shapes and images you think you will need – we’ll have a go at some of these later - but one day, in someone’s planning meeting, you’ll need an image you’ve not thought of or practised. What are you going to do then? 

Well you could ask people in the meeting, but you’ll probably need to have some idea in your head of what it or alternatives look like. How do we know what things look like? We can recognise them, but can we describe them; can we draw a passable likeness?

To do this we need to learn to see – We need to learn to recognise the elements that enable us to see three-dimensional objects, to understand how they relate to one another and learn some rules for representing them in two dimensions, on paper. Some of these elements are innate; others are learned. It’s worth remembering that it’s no good using an image unless everyone in the room understands what it represents.

The elements include perspective (how objects seem smaller the further away they are and how this affects the shape of things), shapes and negative shapes, tone or light and shade, shadows and colour. The rules include the rules of perspective, the use of lines, shading and shadows and using colour, including how we can suggest emotion and mood.

The best way to learn these is the same way that artists do it; look at things and draw them. Artists will tell you they draw every day; it’s why they regularly do still life and life drawing. So I would like you to do some simple still life drawing:

The biggest obstacle for people not used to drawing is what they think an object looks like (or should look like) and trying to draw that instead of what’s in front of them. To overcome this, initially, I don’t want you to try drawing bowls of fruit or vases of flowers, etc; instead I want you to find some 3 dimensional versions of the basic shapes; two or three ordinary boxes and a plain coloured ball to start with. Arrange them in a similar way to this and try to ensure that there is just one main source of light:

For this exercise I want you to use just one marker pen of any fairly deep colour and a large piece of paper:
Start by looking for the edge lines and how they relate to one another. Draw one of these lines and then another that joins the first. Make sure you draw clear positive lines, not hesitant ones. Remember, be bold and draw big. Carefully build up the image with more lines. Try not to think of the arrangement as boxes and a ball, but to see it as a collection of shapes; rectangles and a circle.

Some of the rectangles are distorted and partially hidden: See the perspective; how lines that are really parallel, seem to become closer the further away they are. Look for the shapes that make up the objects and the “negative” shapes in between that fix how the objects relate to one another -

How are you getting on? Hopefully, you should now have a line drawing that resembles the objects in front of you. However, it probably looks like it has no substance, no solidity and it’s floating around in the air somewhere. It is important that the images we use as graphic facilitators or recorders have some impression of reality; that is, that they look solid and are grounded (look as though they are standing on a solid surface). We could start to give the objects some solidity with traditional hatching and cross-hatching like this –

However, for graphic recording and facilitation purposes, this takes too much time. We need an approach that is quick and easy. Look for the light and shade and think about how we can represent that on paper. See where the objects cast shadows and what they look like.

Now find a light-coloured marker; again, any colour will do – it doesn’t matter at this point. I prefer to use a marker with a chisel shaped nib for shading, but, through practice, you may discover that you get on better with a round or pointed nib. Look at the objects again and fill in the shaded areas and the shadows.
For example, like this; 

Take your time for now; speed will come with practice. Eventually, you should develop a quick, simple standard method for doing shade and shadows. Remember we are not trying to produce artwork, but learning to see like an artist will help you find and execute images that hold meaning for the people you work with.

In the next part we will look at creating some basic images and lettering. In the meantime keep practicing drawing from life. When you feel able, move on and try drawing some ordinary everyday things you have around your house, using the same approach. Look for the basic shapes in these things to help you. See how the light falls on them, creating shade and shadows. If you have any questions, get in touch via the comments box.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Graphic Facilitation & Recording Skills for Absolute Beginners - PART 2

Hello and welcome to the second part of my workshop-blog, ‘Graphic Facilitation for Absolute Beginners’. At the end of Part 1, I asked you to think of something that has inspired or motivated you. Perhaps you would like to share this in the comments below; if it has a visual element I’d be interested to see it.

For my part I’d like to share something that inspired me many years ago when I was a design student and still continues to influence me today. This is a diagram / graphic created in the early 1970’s by Victor Papanek for his famous book, ‘Design for the Real World’.
Designer and educator Victor Papanek (1927-1999) was a strong advocate of the socially and ecologically responsible design of products and tools. He disapproved of manufactured products that were unsafe, showy, maladapted, or essentially useless. His products, writings, and lectures were considered an example and spur by many designers, and he was an untiring eloquent promoter of social and ecological design. (Wikipedia)

I have a large poster sized version of the graphic copied from an original poster using a blueprinting machine (an early photocopying system). As students, we were encouraged to add to the original with our own thoughts and with quotes that we had read. My copy has been covered in ideas and links over the years. For me, the style and process embodied in the graphic is the source of my approach to graphic facilitation and recording.

So what are graphic facilitation and recording? Facilitation is enabling others to plan, take responsibility and assume leadership. Recording and facilitation can be used closely together or stand apart as separate activities. But let’s start with some simpler questions: What are graphics? Where do we see them? How are they used?

I’m sure you have lots of answers. In live workshops I ask participants to call out their answers and I record them on a flip-chart like this:

As I said in part 1, graphics are all around us. Many of them are sophisticated designs, others are simple line drawings. The common factor in all of them is that one way or another they are being used to communicate something. In graphic facilitation and recording it is exactly the same; written words and simple images combined to communicate ideas being discussed, explained or promoted – a graphic language.

Graphic language is a powerful tool when used to facilitate or record meetings. Participation, creativity, understanding and focus are stimulated as key ideas are captured directly in words and pictures.

The display provides a visual record and group memory that can help to clarify differences, misunderstandings, aspirations and dreams, and encourage the group to define goals.

Graphic recording can be a helpful tool to support and facilitate the work of all sorts of groups working on all types of projects or problems. Examples include business meetings, events, project planning, conferences, person-centred planning, teaching and training.

The Key Skills

Anyone can learn to be a graphic facilitator / recorder. The biggest block that people have is the fear of drawing – the belief that you can’t do it; that it won’t be good enough.

IT DOESN’T MATTER – It doesn’t have to be “good”. And you can do it!

Drawing Basic Shapes
This is an exercise that is best done using a large sheet of paper, taped to a wall, and a marker pen. Make sure the pen will not bleed through onto the wall; if necessary, double up the paper.

Before doing the exercise it’s a good idea to limber up – do a few simple warm-up exercises – move around a bit and do some stretches. I’d recommend doing this before starting any scribing work.

Now stand, relaxed, facing square on to the paper and, using your whole body (not just your hand and arm) make some large vertical lines.

 Draw BIG, bend your knees, flex your spine – BE BOLD!

Now, draw horizontal lines like this;

Don’t worry that your lines are not very straight. Do some wavy ones, if you want. Just keep practicing drawing BIG.

Draw some diagonal lines: 

Next I want you to draw squares and rectangles – lots of them, all different sizes…..

And now some triangles….

Finally, some circles, ovals and perhaps spirals….

Everything you need to draw consists of these lines and shapes:

The greatest proportion of what you do when you are scribing is writing. You need all these lines and shapes for lettering. You will need to practice writing larger than you are normally used to and very legibly.

As you progress you will learn to draw specific images which at this time, if you have seen some graphic facilitators’ work, you might think consist of much more sophisticated shapes. In reality, they all consist of modifications and combinations of these simple lines and shapes. When you are scribing there isn’t time for anything more complex and it isn’t necessary. You have to be able to work quickly. To be able to do this you will need to practice, but we’ll come back to that later.

The most important skill to learn is how to LISTEN.
Listening includes understanding all the ways people communicate; the way they speak, their tone of voice, use of eye contact, gestures, signs, facial expressions and body language.
Listening also includes checking out what you have heard; making sure you understand and can interpret it.

When you are facilitating you need to let people see that you are listening – use your body language; make eye contact, have an open posture, lean towards people, respond by nodding, etc. – then….

Draw the words and images

Check it out – ASK if it’s right –

This builds trust within the group you are working with and confidence in your role.
BE PRESENT – Listen – Draw – Don’t Judge – BE THERE for everyone.

In the next part of ‘Graphic Facilitation and Recording Skills for Absolute Beginners’ we will delve a bit deeper into the key skills and do some more exercises. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments box below. I will get back to you as soon as I can.