Monday, 16 December 2013

Graphic Facilitation & Recording Skills for Absolute Beginners



Welcome to ‘Graphic Facilitation and Recording Skills for Absolute Beginners’. This is the first of a series of workshop-blogs that I am writing to introduce anyone who is interested to the world of ‘scribing’, as it is sometimes called. I would guess that you have some familiarity with graphic facilitation and recording or have seen some of the techniques being used, perhaps in your own area of work or at an event you attended. Perhaps you thought you’d like to be able to do that, but you’re not sure how to get started. You may also have been thinking that you’ll never be able to draw well enough to do it. Let me say from the outset that anyone can learn the skills and techniques involved. As far as drawing, in particular, goes, it’s not important to be able to draw well; you don’t have to become an artist. You can learn a range of simple images and practice drawing them so you can use them as you need. However, I will say that a little insight into artists’ methods will help you to be more flexible and creative in facilitating or recording events. So included in these workshops will be a flavour of this. Mostly, though, I’ll be giving you tips and some exercises to do to help you learn how to use the techniques and use them successfully.
In our daily lives we are surrounded by graphics of one sort or another, through advertising in magazines and newspapers, on TV, via computers and the internet or on our increasing numbers of mobile devices. In our work, graphics are becoming increasingly important as people in businesses and other organizations realise the full potential of visual communication. A whole new industry of visual practice has grown, and is rapidly expanding, to enable people to be creative, communicate ideas and information, plan new ways of working and enhance their lives. “Thinking outside of the box” is not only a visual concept, it is becoming a normal way of working. Visual thinking is the basis of all the various disciplines under the umbrella of visual practice. As well as using visual thinking as a tool, they all have a core purpose of enabling recipients, the clients, to develop and use their creativity, to participate and work together more effectively and to enhance their understanding of the work they are involved in.

This short series of on-line workshops will introduce you to the basics of graphic facilitation and recording; core areas of visual practice. With no previous experience or particular drawing skills required, you will have the opportunity to learn how to create simple images that you can use in group settings to record or facilitate discussions. The skills and techniques you will be able to develop are the foundation of art and design practice; HOWEVER graphic recording and facilitation are not particularly about art and design, but more directly about communication. It’s not important to create beautiful ‘works of art’; the aim is to record and communicate ideas and information.

So LET’S START with a simple communication exercise about yourself. You can do this solo if you like, but as it’s about communication, it might be better to try this out with one or two friends or colleagues. To do this I’m assuming that everyone has at least some basic innate or learned drawing skills, no matter how crude they may be; it really doesn’t matter. You will need paper (at least A3 size) and a marker, preferably black or a deep colour.

I want you and your friends to each create a drawing of yourself, showing what you do, your interests, talents and anything of interest you would like to share. Spend about 15 minutes on this.

When you have finished share your drawings with each other, talking through the content and explaining what they are about.

In a group workshop session this exercise serves as the way for participants to introduce themselves to each other. Adding in the element of drawing enhances the process and strangers would probably find they remember more about their co-participants than is usual. So, how did it go for you? I hope you found it useful. In a group session I usually share one I do about myself which often looks similar to this:
To find out what it’s about you can read my profile.

If you like you can share your drawing, with a brief outline of what it represents, by posting a comment below. I’d love to see your work.

Before I finish this first on-line workshop I’d like to demonstrate some aspects of things we’ll cover in future sessions. Taking my basic outline drawing, above, let’s look at how we can make it more solid (more real, perhaps) with some shading:
Notice how shadows ground people and objects firmly onto the landscape and how the shading gives the image a more three dimensional quality. We can take this a step further by using colour:
Colour can also be used to denote categories and emotional content…. but more of this later.

For the next workshop, please can you think of something that has inspired or motivated you, either generally or particularly in relation to wanting to learn about graphic facilitation and recording? See you soon.


  1. Could you maybe do a session on the tools you need to have...e.g advice on pens etc

  2. These will be coming up in future sessions. Part 2 will soon be ready and covers key skills and includes an initial drawing exercise.