Great meeting and art? Try Graphic Facilitation

My Ideas - 35

Lovely facilitator drawing by Nancy White, graphic facilitator extraordinaire.

I recently read an article that states, “..a new Drexel University study found that making art can significantly reduce stress-related hormones in your body.” And apparently everyone can benefit!¬†Markers, paper, clay and collage were all used in the study.

How might those who plan and attend meetings make the most of this information? For me, it reinforces that taking time to allow participants to ‘hold the pen’, draw together and be creative is important. This could be in the form an ice breaker but also in how we achieve the concrete tasks of the meeting as well. You don’t need to be an artist to include visual and creative elements to your meetings! There are simple and fun ways to reduce stress, engage the group and create meaning beyond words. I started playing with these tools in 2005 and have been hooked ever since. Why? After reading this study, I think it not only reduces stress for the participants but also for the person leading the group ūüôā

If utilizing these types of tools is something you think would be useful in your toolkit, check out a graphic facilitation workshop to gain the skills and confidence to support groups and organizations to make the most of their meetings. I’m offering a workshop July 9-10, 2018 in BC, Canada – please join me!


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Announcing Graphic Facilitation Workshop July 9-10, 2018

Graphic Facilitation Workshop advert 2018 copy

This workshop (aka Rosviz) focuses on engaging beyond words. We will learn simple techniques to increase participation, attention and productivity in your meetings and work by utilizing more visual tools.

If you are a leader, teacher, facilitator, planner, ¬†or simply looking to build new skills in the area of visual language, ‘Rosviz’ is for you!

No prior artistic skill needed (we promise).

Location is the Prestige Mountain Resort in beautiful Rossland, British Columbia, Canada.

Cost: $875. Early bird rate of $725 in effect until April 15th as well as several hot deals. All prices in Canadian Dollars!

Learn more: Graphic Facilitation Workshop 2018

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Questions and reflective practice


This morning I came across a resource that really resonated with me. Its geared toward visual practitioners however the idea is pertinent to all facilitators, process designers, strategists and others managing processes for change. You can view it here:

The question well (name of the resource) is about taking a moment to pause and reflect on the work you are doing. It poses great questions that relate to you and your work, you and your client, the client and your work and so forth. As a process facilitator, blogger and someone who works with groups on reflective practice, learning and making meaning – this resource is a fabulous start to ensuring our work is more effective. It helps us understand things from different perspective, look for areas to make change, adapt as well as reinforce where things are going well.

In addition to pointing out the usefulness of reflective practice, it also presents questions that can be applied in a variety of circumstances beyond visual work. These questions help us design better processes, engage with groups on a deeper level and build understanding amongst diverse stakeholders that are often trying to work on layered and complex challenges.

Lastly, a big thank you to the authors for taking time to pull together the resource and generously sharing their work!

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Meeting intros…beyond the go around.


A few weeks ago, I got a request from someone new to facilitation asking about a great way to do introductions at a meeting. I have a lot of icebreakers up my sleeve but I was testing out something new at another meeting and had been given some ideas from an online group too. I wanted to feel it out before replying. After testing out some new things and thinking about the games I was suggested, my advice went back to something tried and true that I find a fabulous way to start a meeting.

One thing I’ve always found fun is a 3 round speed meeting. Its helpful to have a chance to meet the people you are going to be working with for the next few hours / days/etc. upfront. It can be very simple or you can put a spin on it to go deeper into your meeting content. The instructions are something like this:

  • Find someone you don’t know and introduce yourselves.
  • You have 3 minutes for the first round and then I will ring a bell and you have to meet another person (90 seconds each during your intros).
  • Do it 3 times
  • Regroup together, stand in a circle and ask people how that was for them. ¬†Do a go-around or a ‘popcorn’ to get feedback.
  • Remind people that often we sit in meetings and don’t know who is around the room. If they didn’t get to meet everyone, take time during the breaks to continue the introductions.

If you want to go DEEPER or be more focused on the meeting itself, similar to above but:

  • Give them 4 mins per round (2 mins each to share)
  • During the intros, ask them to tell each other what they hope to get out of the meeting.
  • During the debrief, ask for examples of what people said they are hoping to get out of the meeting. Ask people if most people they met had similar expectations or where they different? How were they different? What does that mean for the meeting? Ask if anybody has anything further to add that wasn’t said.

Even though each person will only have done 3 rounds, they will know more and have more depth than a simple go around sharing names and where they work.

In general, I believe the debrief for every session/activity is a key part of the session. “What, So What, Now What” are 3 questions to consider for each session you do. Even the introductions can set the tone for the type of meeting you are going to have.

Good luck!

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Planning an update, stay tuned!

The year has flown by and I have been neglectful in writing, reflecting and sharing online. However, lots of interesting work has taken place, and shamefully I got caught up in the busy frenzy. On the positive, I was spending more time with people face to face and less time on my computer.

Now its time to take a deep breath, consider some of the highlights and articulate these thoughts through my blog. Reflective practice is always something I have found useful, encourage others to do and will commit to doing this October. I am setting a goal to update pages and write a few new blog posts. Thank you for your patience. If you want to get in touch, contact info remains the same and email still works great: michelle.k.laurie(@) Off to work….

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Announcing two workshops for September 2016

This year I am very excited to host two workshops focused on the use of visuals in our facilitation practice.

The first is called My Pens, Our Pens and is a brand new offering Sept 16-17. This is being developed with Nancy White (my co-conspirator of the last six years). We are treading into new territory as we explore the role of visuals in design and facilitation.   This is not your traditional workshop. We are looking to push our boundaries (and yours) in terms of the role of visuals in design and facilitation. We will ask hard questions about who captures content and what is its use?  Can visual methods help reporting out be more meaningful? What is the role of metaphor? Constraints? Where are there visual opportunities in process design? When does it make sense to use visuals and where does it detract from the process? What is the process of others capturing and harvesting content? For those joining and wanting an introduction to drawing on walls, there is an optional half-day Sept 15 to teach the basics.

The second is the 7th annual  Rosviz graphic facilitation workshop. This two-day experiential workshop provides the fundamentals needed to get started drawing on walls, use visuals to achieve your goals or hone your existing practice (Sept 19-20). Whether helping communities plan their futures or groups track progress, we will provide the skills and confidence needed to use a range of visuals in your work and engage beyond words.

Workshop details for both offerings are found here!


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From the field: tips for policy engagement

Samoan Circle Discussion on Policy Engagement with ADB, UN-Habitat, ICIMOD and MOUD (Nepal)

I have recently been reflecting on a knowledge sharing and learning¬†session I organized in Nepal in March 2015 on the topic of Policy Engagement. This is part of my capacity building role in the South Asia Urban Knowledge Hub. A highlight of the 2 days was a panel¬†on policy engagement which was held in a circle where those listening could ask questions by joining the speakers in the inner circle. The speakers included Dr Mahendra Subbha, Joint Secretary DUDBC¬†from Nepal’s Ministry of Urban Development, Bhushan Tuladhar from UN-Habitat (South Asia), Mr Nand Kishor Agrawal of¬†ICIMOD and Vivian Castro-Woolridge of the Asian Development Bank.

Some interesting points that came out of the circle discussion included:

  • In academic and applied research, framing of issue needs to be considered
  • Consider who is the best gatekeeper? Who is a good messenger?
  • Get embedded on major committees so you can take advantage of policy windows, opportunities.
  • Sell how your research can contribute to long-term change
  • Materials should be readable, use native language, have colour and a summary
  • Reach out to those that can help ‚Äď i.e. media
  • Publish science, be credible but also communicate and be relevant to society
  • Its our responsibility as researchers to create demand.
  • Collaborate (public, private and academic)

At the end of the session, each speaker was asked to give one final piece of “Key Advice”. This is what they said:

  • Think design, pre-policy and disseminate
  • Advocacy, Advocacy, Advocacy
  • Never take a top scientist to a meeting ‚Äď take a communications expert
  • Rephrase¬†and¬†repackage

What are your tips and lessons? Please share in the comments feature!

As the Khub continues on the path of research and engagement in the urban development field I am constantly reminded of this spirited discussion. I hope it has stuck in our researchers’ minds as well ūüôā

I have posted presentations from the 2 day gathering online:

If interested in the session workbook, email me for a copy (michelle.k.laurie(@)


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