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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!

Upcoming graphic facilitation workshop Nov. 7-8

WorkShopsLooking for ways to spice up your meetings and make them more powerful, productive, and fun? Consider adding some visual skills to your palette! I’m offering my annual workshop, The Artful Visual Facilitator, on November 7-8 in Vancouver, and there’s still room to register.

In this lively, hands-on course, you’ll get a solid introduction to graphic recording and graphic facilitation that will give you all the foundation you need to enliven your meetings with visual techniques. Over the course of two days, you will:

  • Learn techniques for drawing simple objects, icons and people
  • Discover how to organize ideas using colour, typography and visual frameworks
  • Translate concepts into images using visual metaphors
  • Design posters, templates and charts for your meetings
  • Practice graphic recording
  • Learn simple techniques for visually facilitating a meeting
  • … and more!

You’ll get a little bit of theory and a lot of hands-on practice, and you’ll walk away with enough skills to begin creating visual products and processes for your meetings. Some of you might even fall in love with graphic recording and start doing it yourselves! (I’m not kidding. Several of my former students are now graphic recorders with successful practices of their own.)

Who should take this course?

  • Facilitators who want to add new skills to their palette of techniques.
  • Aspiring graphic recorders who want to learn the basics in a practical, fun and encouraging environment.
  • Convenors who want to host meetings and conferences that are engaging, meaningful and productive – and who want a record of the event that shows how engaging, meaningful and productive it was.

Register now!

The Artful Visual Facilitator is offered through the Masterful Facilitation Institute and takes place this year on November 7-8 at the Granville Island Hotel in Vancouver. Click here to learn more and register. Class size is limited, so register soon! I look forward to seeing you there.

A different kind of animation

In 2011 the Delta School District underwent a district-wide visioning process, designed and facilitated by my friend and colleague Myriam Laberge. I was hired to create some visual templates for the schools to work with, and to graphically record the large group sessions. At the end of the process, the key themes were distilled from all the input from the schools and I created a summary chart of the District’s Bold Vision. Here’s what the chart looked like when it was done (click on the image to see it more clearly):

April 7

But what’s really cool is what the clever folks at Delta did with the chart afterwards. All throughout the visioning process they shot videos of students, teachers and others talking about their vision for the District and showing their values in action. They then enhanced the chart with flash graphics and embedded the videos right into it, to create a multi-dimensional visual that really brought the whole thing alive. I can’t reproduce the animated chart here, but you can click here to go to Delta’s website and see it in all its animated glory.

I’m thrilled with what they did and see lots of possibilities for taking this approach even further, turning the original chart into a kind of base map from which you could link to all kinds of other related material – videos, audio clips, documents, other weblinks… The possibilities are endless!

If you think this is something you’d like to do with your charts, let’s talk!

Mapping Karen Armstrong

Karen Armstrong has been in Vancouver for much of the past two weeks, as a key figure at SFU’s 12 Days of Compassion. I’ve been a big fan of Karen Armstrong since I read her books “A History of God” and “The Gospel According to Woman” some years ago. And I was privileged to hear her speak at the 2009 Peace Summit in Vancouver, along with the Dalai Lama and other notables.

So imagine my thrill when I was asked to graphically record a talk she was giving at an academic symposium on “Working Compassion” earlier this week! Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity. You can see the charts below.

Even more excitement later in the week: Kristin Miller, editor of the Charter for Compassion website in New York, called me to say she’d like to use my images on their website and write a profile about me to go with them. Well, who’s going to say no to an offer like that?? So a couple of days later I found myself having a delightful chat with Kristin, and sure enough, I wound up on their website! I’m beyond thrilled, and am happy to share the link with you here: She Sees What You’re Saying: Avril Orloff’s Compassionate World

Karen-AM Panel



What you’re seeing above is a mural that was co-created over 3 days by Mariah Howard, Mary Corrigan and myself at a splendid event in July called the Mount Madonna Chautauqua. (Click on the image to see a larger version, and go here to see close-ups of different sections.) The Chautauqua is the brainchild of the brilliant (and brilliantly subversive) educator Ward Mailliard, who for the past 6 years has created a space each summer where a group of people who care about learning can, as he says, “engage in meaningful conversation about our own learning and discover…new ways of transforming our work in education.” This year Chautauqua was structured around the theme of the “Learning Journey,” and from the very beginning of the planning, it was designed to put art and music at the centre of the learning process. And what a learning took place! Suffice to say that it was one of those transformative events that one is occasionally blessed to experience, and what I learned at Chautauqua will be informing my work for a long time to come.

Read more about Chautauqua if you’re the least bit interested in education and learning. Their blog is full of rich and juicy details, including videos, transcripts of talks, and written reflections from various participants. For specific reflections on the role of art, check out Artists’ Reflections, On Art/Graphic Facilitation, and Peter Block’s article on Art and Community.