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An online celebration of Rosviz!

After 10 years of offering a graphic facilitation workshop I was looking forward to a community gathering in Rossland to celebrate and share with people we have met over the years. With the pandemic the idea of a gathering in person wasn’t possible. Together with my co-conspirators Lisa Gates and Nancy White we turned to an online session to share visual tools, connect with our community and hear what others have been doing and learning online. 

We had a small group come together and share in late July. In our quick hour and a half we managed to show and tell 10 different ways to visually engage your participants online. It was a rapid introduction with the intention to give a taste of what one can do to engage visually without pen and paper. 

Some of the fun we had included: 

Changing your name in Zoom to add emojis

Annotating the Zoom Whiteboard – our intro to the gathering:

Annotating slides in power point – for example asking people to mark how they are doing on a line (in person we do this with our ‘feet’):

Visual templates – the ecocyle

Nancy White shared her slides for a practical visual template and suggested to go to Liberating Structures for more info! Here is an example:

Padlet: -thank Ingrid Liepa for sharing!

Jamboard: It’s a part of the Google apps- thank you Lisa Gates for sharing!

Quick tip! Jamboard is better for small groups (as opposed to Mural, our next tool).

Mural & Zoom breakouts: playing with Mural in small groups (Thanks Theresa Healy!)

Quick tip! When sharing to non-members make sure to use the ‘visitor’ link, rather than the ‘invite’ link! 

Graphic recording by hand – thank you for sharing Theresa (Tess) Healy

Graphic recording on the iPad– thank you for sharing Lisa Gates!

Mentimeter word cloud: We used ‘just 3 words’ as a quick evaluation:

Quick tip! When working with a group online, remember to put the code in the chat.

Thank you to all who came to share and play! So many more tips and tricks were shared along the way which I am grateful for. Feel free to share below!

Lisa and I are considering a December workshop on creative and visual facilitation online. If this interests you or someone you know, please leave a comment so we can connect with you!


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Wizards Behind the Curtain…sharing the tech side of virtual facilitation


Digital Graphic Recording by Bob Mack.

Recently I had the pleasure of co-hosting two online sessions with the purpose to talk about the tech side of virtual facilitation – what is happening behind the scenes? My co-host Stephan Morales, took the lead designing the sessions using Liberating Structures, a suite of tools that help to engage all participants in the meeting. I volunteered to do the tech hosting of the meeting as it was a great opportunity to try some new skills in a safe setting.

The sessions themselves were filled with rich conversation, resources, tools, and tidbits of advice. People asked for us to share back the recording (April 21 and April 24), the chat and contact info people were providing. Once I scanned the chats, I knew a curated harvest would be helpful!

Interestingly, Stefan and I spent a lot of time designing the sessions and figuring out how it would roll out. However, we never spoke about the harvest. This is perhaps one of my greatest oversights. Thinking to the future, as we get wrapped up with the technology, of virtual facilitation, its important to stay rooted in the foundations of our facilitation practice. For me, I have always loved the advice I got years ago from Chris Corrigan about planning for the harvest from the outset of your design.

I suspect for many of us, experiencing and learning during the sessions was our ‘harvest’. However, the curation of the details shared is also of value particularly over time. Going through the chats 1-2 weeks post-session was illuminating. So despite being a bit late, I cleaned the chats (the method is described in this resource doc) and then combed through both sessions to pull out the great resources, tips, and Q&A. I have posted them in a google doc online. I uploaded the session recordings to my YouTube Channel (April 21, April 24) so that people can have access to them once the zoom cloud storage is maxed out.

I sincerely thank all the fish who volunteered their expertise, our graphic recorder and my co-host for proposing the idea in the first place!

In summary:

Guest Fish: 

 Digital visual harvest thanks to Bob Mack  (Session 2).

Co-host Stephan Morales.

Powerpoint from the session. Cleaned Chats from April 21st and from April 24th. .

I invite everyone to contribute to the Q&A as not all answers were provided in the session. Instructions on how to ‘clean the chat’ easily are also there (thanks Nancy White!).

Thanks again for all who came to play, share and experiment!

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Learning online…with others

One thing is for certain as we move our world of meetings, facilitation and engagement online. You are not alone!

you are not alone

Seriously, you are not alone up there!

In case you don’t have time to read the entire lengthy blog post, my best learning from this current deep dive is…. Learning online tools is easier (and more FUN) with others! I have a few more quick learning nuggets at the bottom as well.


Today I co-hosted a session with someone I met days ago online, tested out a crowdsourcing tool I began to play with literally a couple weeks ago and was joined by an almost complete group of strangers in zoom. How did that happen, how did it go and what did I learn?


How did it happen?

A series of random musings in an online network led me and a stranger named Bill (who I now consider a friend and future collaborator) to offer an online session to experiment with Thoughtexchange.  The tool enables groups to crowdsource ideas to questions posed and then prioritize based on people’s preferences. You can deliver data and generate reports in minutes or over longer stretches of time. Check out Thoughtexchange for the details.


As preparation for the session, I explored the tools and made great online friends in the process!


  1. To get a handle on what ThoughtExchange could offer:
    1. I attended one of their weekly online seminars and participated in a live exchange. I learned about presenter mode which offers a slick interface where people can join an exchange by scanning a QR code with their phone device. I tried this today in our session and it worked well! Someone shared that they experienced this with 700 people in a room and 200 people online participating. Making things easy is important for usage.
    2. I befriended a consultant I met through the TE seminar and we started some offline chats about how we were experimenting with the tool and what we were learning. Finding another person to learn with has added so much value to my own learning as well as inspiration to keep trying new things.
    3. I offered my services to a local group to help them understand issues impacting them related to COVID-19. It was very effective and I assume they found value as they have asked if we could do more. This is important to me as with any new tool we try, despite it looking slick, the key is that clients (users) see value!
    4. I checked-in with the support folks at ThoughtExchange to ask questions and learn more about features I hadn’t yet used. They were great and have a Help site with live chat.


  1. To advertise the event and get a handle on numbers participating:
    1. I used Eventbrite for the registration. This was useful as I was not sure how many people might come and thus I wasn’t sure how to structure the session for maximum interaction.
    2. After creating my free event, which included the zoom link, I shared it on a few platforms including facilitators for covid response on io, liberating structures slack channel #virtual, a QiqoChatcalendar, as well as my LinkedIn and Facebook sites. Once I noticed people were registering, I stopped sharing the invite as I started to get nervous!
    3. I learned its helpful to have an idea of numbers of people registering, where they are from and to get a sense if I know them or not. I also learned that 20% of the people registered likely won’t show up.


  1. To learn more about hosting online events I’ve been joining a few generous offerings as time permits. I have also saved many articles to go through still but here are some gems I feel lucky to have been exposed to:
    1. Strategic thinking / supporting other groups transitioning their online work (hosted by Nancy and written up here).
    2. Working with liberating structures online – S/Lowdown Series
    3. Following the enormous information shared through the facilitators 4 covid response list-serve.
    4. Experienced what it felt like to meet and discuss with a group of strangers online with National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation.
    5. I will dive in as a ‘tech host’ with another new group of friends next week talking about the technology behind the scenes in online events (It’s free and you can sign up April 21here or April 24th here).
    6. I’m a big fan of Gillian’s blog and she is writing up lots of her experiences and how-to switch to virtual. Aside from the many great tips she provides, I have learned it always comes back to purpose and designing for the purpose!


How did it go?

Overall, I think the session went well however this is likely better asked by the people that participated.


Still, in addition to understanding the technology and setting up the online environment, helpful points for the session included:

  • Doing a Thought Exchange in advance to prepare the agenda. 43 people participated and I was able to generate a quick report. I focused on the top 2 themes which were the desire to demo the tool live and to discuss when to use it.
  • I proposed an agenda online and adapted it heavily with my co-host. Getting together before the event and working through design and logistics was key.
  • We adapted the agenda to include a couple live demos, a couple break-outs and a final all group discussion.
  • As co-hosts we took on roles. Bill was the zoom tech host and I led the Thoughtexchange.
  • We used the polling feature of Zoom to quickly understand people’s knowledge of the tool at the outset of our session.
  • A highlight was bringing in David who recently used the tool and shared his insights and learning from real world situations. Thank you David!
  • The session was one and half hours. We started with 23 people, after an hour were were 15 and by the end we were 9.


What did I learn?

I got your back copy

I’ve got your back!

From today specifically I learned its very helpful to have a co-host(s) to watch your back and spot potential falls. Aside from that:

  • One hour is likely the right amount of time for an online training session such as this.
  • Co-host. Share the roles. It reduces the stress enormously.
  • Take a breath before inviting people into the room. It also helps calm the nerves.
  • Bring in people from the participant group to share, keeps things relevant and real.
  • Meeting on line is different than face to face for reading the room. Having people join with video is better than joining by phone.
  • Facilitating, i.e. supporting groups to get where they need to go, is essentially the same online as offline. We need to be adaptable and go where the group wants.
  • Loosening the agenda and remaining flexible is very nice to experience online as a facilitator (and I assume as a participant too).
  • Specific to the tool thoughtexchange, people want to come back together and keep learning after they have tried it out. People felt using the tool would be a great conversation starter and allow for more informed and richer conversations. We had some debate on the tool’s ability to be a decision-making tool. There was agreement that it would help identify places to start digging deeper.

If you are keen to play or join us please do. The company is offering it free right now for COVID-19 conversations. Send me a note and I’ll let you know when our next learning experiment takes place! I started an exchange to develop the agenda here.

Thanks to everyone who came out today. I know we are all overloaded with meetings and online events. I learned so much and I hope you did too 🙂





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Exploration of an Online Crowdsourcing Tool

Screen Shot 2020-04-14 at 10.56.27 PM

Recently I’ve been playing with an online crowdsourcing tool called ThoughtExchange. The software allows you to crowdsource answers to questions in real time. You can do an exchange in a matter of minutes or over a period of weeks. For people looking to harness the wisdom of crowds – this tool has incredible potential. Furthermore, in the age of physical distancing, facilitators are looking for ways to expand our tools for gathering and sensemaking information.


On this note, I agreed to host a practice session for a group of strangers I have been meeting online via various digital facilitator networks. To understand what we might focus the meeting on, I hosted a thought exchange asking people what needs to happen at the meeting to make it a good use of their time.

The answers landed in three categories (you can read the full report here):

  • Those who want to test and try the tool live.
  • Those who want to understand when to use the tool.
  • Those who want to dig deeper into the tool (for example questions that work best, costs).

Based on this, I’m considering what the agenda could look like. Here is my first draft!

Purpose: To learn with others about the TE platform as a tool for virtual meetings and collaboration.

When: Friday, April 17th, 8-9:30am Pacific Time.

Platform: Zoom (loving it).

Side note: After several playful experiments with using Liberating Structures online, I definitely want to include some of those in our session. The two practices mesh well as both aim to include the ideas and input of as many people as possible.

Draft Agenda:

8:00-8:15        Your experience with the tool and hope for the session (Impromptu Networking)

8:15-8:30        A look at the original TE question and the online report (share screen).

8:30-8:45        Feedback, comments (1-2-all)

8:45-9:00        What are good scenarios to use the tool? (Live Exchange)

9:00 – 9:15      So what do you think? Next steps? (Small groups)

9:15-9:30        Sharing, Digging deeper, Questions to look into further.

I still have 2 days to plan so your feedback is very welcome! What do you think? Do you have suggestions to offer? Will this online meeting deliver the hopes of those that signed up?  Leave me a comment!

And if you want to join Friday’s online meeting – you are welcome, sign up here (it’s free!).

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10 days of COVID – what am I learning?


As we face uncertainty in every area of life and it feels like a balance between chaos and order, panic and zen, there are lots of beautiful moments to note.

As the world dives into unchartered territory, I’m drawn to resume my reflective practice.

In an effort to calm the barrage of thoughts, here is a curated ‘top of mind’ list of what I’ve been learning.



On the work front…

  • As a specialist in face to face engagement and meetings, my work is changing rapidly.
  • I need to slow down and breathe….and find focus.
  • There is so much to learn. There are so many platforms to do a million and one things online. Finding the right one will take experimentation. There is no silver bullet.
  • There are many people trying and testing and learning together. These people are generous, curious and supportive!
  • Zoom is the technology I found easiest to adopt and use for a variety of reasons professionally and personally.
  • Three virtual training sessions in a row to test platforms and experiment is TOO much in one sitting!
  • Sitting all day (and night?) staring at my screen is starting to affect my body.
  • I need to upgrade my technology and tools so I can function well in the digital world.
  • The new way of working is a great opportunity to learn as well as develop as a meeting facilitator.


On the family front…



  • We love being at home together. My husband deserves most of the credit for keeping our homelife healthy, happy and active.
  • The kids are having fun, getting outside lots and thus far aren’t noticing too much of a difference.
  • Living in a rural area helps – plenty to do outside away from people.
  • For the past 7 years, we have avoided screen time with the kids. This will change.
  • I need to carve out time to be with family and get off my computer as its easy to get sucked in to another ‘learning session’.
  • It’s been great to reconnect with friends and family virtually. It’s also hard to connect virtually on screens after a long day of virtual work.
  • I miss inviting friends to play in the yard, the street and in our home.
  • I am sad we won’t be visiting the grandparents in April as planned.


Homeschooling thoughts and ideas:

art online

  • I’m considering broad learning objectives to help frame the educational goal posts.
  • Routines are helpful. Strict schedules aren’t needed.
  • Activities for typical and a-typical subjects can easily be interspersed throughout the day.
  • We will be embracing outdoor school.
  • Every moment is a learning opportunity – learning in place, learning on the fly, learning while exploring our world…
  • House chores will be formally added to the daily routine. In our house, this includes making a card every day to mail to a different family or friend.
  • Love your kids. Embrace uncertainty. Enjoy!

What are you learning? Any tips for working parents and families?



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Facilitator musings in times of social distancing


A facilitators’ role is to help create, and support, the space for others to do their best work. Much of the world is hitting pause at the moment… while others are in fast-forward. As a face-to-face meeting facilitator, its time to step up, learn and adapt.

  • How can we effectively be in service to others while socially distancing?
  • What are the tools?
  • What are the activities that need to change?
  • What is the appropriate pace for change?
  • What are the expectations of our clients? The project beneficiaries? Our colleagues and ourselves?

I’ve chosen to dive into a few new tools and will be seeking the expertise of friends and colleagues in the field of online facilitation. As a person attached to old fashioned mediums such as pens, paper and face-to-face interaction, I’m looking forward to the learning!

A key message I’m taking from the online discussion groups I’m lurking in is to keep asking:

  • What do we want to accomplish?
  • What can we create online to help experience it?

A few great facilitators and the resources they have shared thus far are highly recommended. Check them out:

Stay healthy and stay safe!

Michelle Laurie Signature


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Save the Date – rosviz2020

ROSVIZ2020 Draft1

#rosviz2020 is happening July 22-23 at The Josie Hotelin Rossland, British Columbia.

If you have been wanting to learn more about graphic facilitation, this workshop is packed with skills, fun and engaging methods you can use immediately!

UPDATE March 19, 2020: In the case that face to face meetings are not possible in July, I am looking at other options for delivering this amazing workshop. If you are keen and want to be updated on the plan, please add your name to the list. Thank you for your patience and stay safe and healthy! E: michelle.k.laurie(@) 

Learn more here!

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The harvest…the gifts.

group harvest all lookingIt’s been almost a month since #Rosviz19, my annual graphic facilitation workshop, took place in Rossland, BC, Canada. I am inspired by the people I was fortunate to meet, the work that was created and the harvests that emerged from this group!

That last exercise of the 2-day workshop is typically about harvest – capturing the learnings, what we want to share, the artifacts to help us remember and the tangible and intangible bits that we each gather throughout.

The harvests were BOLD gifts that stretched everyone to be their best. It was amazing to witness the element of surprise when people saw the sense making that had emerged after a few days of skills building, practice and discussion.

A group of eight gathered together to draw their learnings in large format. 

Harvest Wall No people

Another small group drew tidbits of advice and key points on cards to fit the key ring I gave at the start of the workshop so people could harvest personal insights throughout.

A poet and business advisor shared spoken word as a way to harvest the learnings!


Finally, after the workshop, Lisa, our social reporter and graphic recorder/guest artist shared a digital recording she created over the 2 days!


Special thank you to Carolina and Fernando for sharing a few Liberating Structures with us on Day 2!

Thank you to Lisa Gates for sharing her exceptional talents once again!

Michelle & Lisa

Finally, a huge thank you to everyone who traveled to Rossland to join me on this amazing graphic facilitation journey! 

Now to start planning for 2020…

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Last call for Rosviz19!

3 spots left

We are in the home stretch for registration! One month until the annual graphic facilitation workshop ‘Rosviz19’ begins. There are 3 spots left. This is why you should register:

  1. You want to increase engagement in meetings and with teams, you want to add skills to your toolkit BUT you think…I can’t draw. In this workshop, I promise you will transform that thinking!


I can draw

Yes that is you jumping up with joy!


2. You are planning an event or a project and you need to visualize your timeline. You want to communicate this to your client or to your team in a simple way to share the big picture ideas. This workshop provides you with the tools and confidence to do so!

Here is a quick example:

draw your next event

A visual timeline explaining stages, dates and process.


3. You are wondering…what the heck are we going to do? Here are some ideas…

ideas for the workshop


Still not sure? Check out the video from 2018!

Details provided on this webpage.

Scholarships available on as need basis!

Contact me with your questions.

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Yes, draw on walls!

The other day, I received an email from a former graphic facilitation workshop participant. This has made my week!

“Your workshop was really instrumental for me in my work. I use graphics in my research and am often invited to do recordings for strategic planning or dialogue-based events.”

She sent me samples of her work (I can’t share due to privacy 😦 ) however know they are AMAZING! Receiving her email has been a highlight as planning each year takes time, energy and passion!

Here is a taster video we made from 2018 to give you an idea of the fun we have:

When I was researching for the 2019 rosviz graphic facilitation workshop, I did reach out to former participants for advice. In addition to inspiring feedback I also got a great push to keep spreading the gospel of ‘drawing on walls’!

Check out this testimonial:

“I was looking for some hands on learning in graphic facilitation and was lucky to find Michelle Laurie’s annual ROSVIz workshop in Rossland BC.

She skillfully and generously shared her knowledge and experience in a fun and practical way.  I was looking to increase my skills in harvesting and sense making in real time in my workshops and dialogue sessions.  Laurie’s workshop helped me up my game (as a facilitator and process designer) and my practice in graphic facilitation has taken off like a rocket.  I apply graphic facilitation to almost everything when I have the opportunity…and wow what a difference it makes for my clients who are bogged down or overwhelmed by complexity.  The feedback I get from my clients say it all.  Thanks Laurie for helping me take my work to a new level.”

It is so gratifying to hear that some of the skills shared at my ‘rosviz’ workshop are finding their way into meaningful places!

Consider joining us for July 11-12, 2019! All information is here!   

You will also find more testimonials of all the fun and SKILLS to be had at rosviz19!

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