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Paved with good intentions…

That would be “the road to hell”. The one that’s paved with good intentions, according to the proverb. Ahem.

I started this blog with the very best of intentions, something over a year and a half ago. I was going to post regularly. OK, at least once a month. By my blogging standards, that’s regular. I made a list of topics I was going to share my thoughts about. They were interesting! They were worthwhile! Some of them even related to my work! I’m sure you would have found them enjoyable to read. I might even have found them enjoyable to write.

But life intervened, the days turned into weeks and then months, and…yikes…the last post I wrote wished you happy new year. In January 2014. Oops.

So I’m writing this very short post simply in order to push “Happy New Year 2014” off the home page of my website and spare myself further embarrassment at being so publicly out of date. And I’m hoping it will spur me to write at least once in awhile. Because I really do have some thoughts I want to share on various topics, and I created this blog as the space to do just that.

But I’m going to refrain from making rash promises. I’ll just say: stay tuned. You might see something new here before the end of 2015. You might not. And if you don’t – well, at least no one can accuse me of flooding their inbox. That’s gotta be worth something in this age of information overload, right?

“A goldmine of graphic facilitation take-aways”

That’s a quote from a participant at my Artful Visual Facilitator workshop last week. (I paid her to say that.) No, but seriously: it was a blast. We had an almost full house, with 15 enthusiastic participants digging in for 2 very full days to learn the fundamentals of graphic recording and a few ways of incorporating visual facilitation into their work. Preparing for a workshop is hard work – no matter how many times I’ve done it, there’s always something new to add, elements to tweak and refine, and of course a million little details to attend to that wake me up at 3:00 in the morning in a cold sweat. But once we’re all in the room working and playing together, the class is always a joy! Each group is different, with its own collective personality, and I always learn at least as much from them as they learn from me.

One thing I changed last year (thank you, Lisa Arora, for the idea!) was to create a Do-It-Yourself agenda for the second day of the workshop. I lay out all the options on sticky notes, like a menu of possibilities, and the students get to vote on which pieces they most want to cover. The ones with the most votes get top priority, and others are added as time permits. I did that again this year, and it was great. The students get what they want the most, and I don’t have to sit up till 2am the night before, rejigging the Day 2 agenda based on what shifted on Day 1! (Because something always shifts, right?)

Here are a few pix from the workshop.

DIY  Day 1  5 things        Groupwork   WorkingSketchbook    GR    Lettering

Registration has closed for the workshop

Langley-1Thanks to all who signed up for my Artful Visual Facilitator workshop next week! We had a flurry of registrations this past week and are now officially full! I’m super looking forward to meeting the new cohort, including 9-count-em-nine teachers from the Langley and Chilliwack School districts.

Two of them, Scott and Tristan, got a bit of a head start the other evening. I was graphically recording a visioning session for the Langley School District, and they were there to (among other things) observe me do my thing. At one point I asked Scott how he would draw a particular concept. When he gave me his idea I said, “How would you like to draw it?” and handed him a pen. He went to with a will while I wandered off and got myself a cup of tea. The next time an image was needed, I recruited Tristan to draw it. Well, long story short: they both did such a terrific job that I turned over most of the drawing to them and I just focused on capturing the text!

[Note to self: Must see about getting nice young men to do my drawing for me as often as possible…] But seriously, as every graphic recorder knows, tandem mapping is hugely fun. I’ve done it on several occasions – sometimes with one person capturing text and the other focusing on drawing as we did here, other times piggybacking content and images as the spirit moves us. Either way, having four hands on the chart makes it much easier to capture content, especially when things are moving fast. And when you get into a flow, it’s like dancing with a terrific partner: anticipating each other’s moves, alternating leading and following, and creating a whole that’s way more than the sum of its parts!

So You Think You Can’t Draw?

ArtfulEager to add visual techniques to your facilitation but don’t know how? Looking for ways to create more interactive meetings? Starving for fresh visuals and images? 

Take The Artful Visual Facilitator. You will learn:

•  The core principles of visual thinking
•  What makes visual learners tick
•  How to draw simple shapes, icons and people
•  How to use colour effectively
•  How to translate abstract concepts into concrete images
•  How to illustrate posters and charts for agendas, instructions, norms.
•  How to capture ‘live’ meeting results like brainstorming
•  How to build a personal inventory of ready-made graphics
•  And much, much more!

Your course instructor: Me! In this two-day hands-on course, I’ll teach you everything you need to enhance your meetings with visual thinking and simple imagery. It’s a fun, interactive course. No drawing experience needed.

Our promise:  At the end of this course, you’ll have a repertoire of useful images, icons, lettering conventions, visual metaphors, and more! Your meetings will never be the same. Here’s what one participant says about this course:

“Since Avril’s workshop I’ve had so much fun designing learning that incorporates graphics, as well as being able to “draw the mind” of a room full of thinkers and planners. I highly recommend that newbie graphic recorders, as well as facilitators who want to explore another important modality, take this energizing and fun workshop.” — Aaron Johannes

This course is for you if you are:

  • A veteran facilitator who doesn’t incorporate graphics because you think you can’t draw (My promise: I’ll show you how.)
  • An experienced facilitator who wants to better engage meeting participants (After this course, you’ll never want to facilitate a meeting without visuals again!)
  • A wanna-be graphic recorder (A great course to start out with.)

Register today for The Artful Visual Facilitator.
November 7 + 8, 2013 (Note: Class offered publicly only once per year)
Location: Granville Island Hotel, Vancouver, B.C.

Don’t miss your chance! Class sizes are small for maximum learning. Reserve your spot now so you won’t be disappointed. Download the PDF for more course details.

Help participants see what they’re saying…

GR_cwIf you’re following my blog at all, you’ll know that each year I teach a 2-day workshop called The Artful Visual Facilitator through the Masterful Facilitation Institute, and you’ll know that the next one is coming up Nov. 7-8 here in Vancouver. (What, you didn’t know that? Well, just scroll back to the immediately previous post and read all about it!)

The folks at MFI have written an excellent post on their blog about the value of adding simple visuals to your charts to ignite understanding, spark creativity, and help participants envision new possibilities. And the point is: you can do it yourself! Of course, there are times you’ll want to bring me into the process, and I hope that happens often. But there are also times when all you need is to know how to organize your material better and add some simple imagery to your charts to help people see what they’re saying and spark deeper discussion. Or facilitate a process that has participants creating images themselves. And that’s what my course is for: to get you started in incorporating visuals in all your meetings, gatherings and dialogues. Read about it on the MFI blog, and then register for The Artful Visual Facilitator if you’re ready to get started!