Graphic facilitation is the practice of using visual representations to help guide a meeting and record information brought up during a meeting. It is a way of brainstorming and generally involves a group leader mapping out key points of a discussion as they happen. Graphic facilitation can be performed by a member of the organization holding the meeting, or by a hired professional, often called a graphic facilitator. This practice can be used within an organization for many reasons, including problem solving, planning, and creating new ideas. Depending on the type of media used for graphic recording, the drawings made during these meetings may also serve as part of a permanent record of the meeting.
Graphic facilitation is a type of group facilitation. Group facilitation is a fancy term for running a meeting smoothly and efficiently. Aside from graphic facilitation, other group facilitation techniques include techniques to improve planning, voting, and breaking the ice. These practices are all designed to help make meetings more fun and more efficient.
Facilitators using graphic recording receive training in the practice of using images to create graphic representations of a meeting. These representations are similar to mind maps containing information and key points addressed during meetings. Skills needed for successful graphic facilitation include graphic recording training, but also include the skills needed to effectively run a meeting.
This practice can involve a variety of tools, from simple pen and paper to a projected image controlled by a computer with a graphics tablet. Graphic facilitators sometimes use a whiteboard, a surface created for erasable markers, to record temporary data. A common technique used by facilitators is to record important information on paper or posterboard that can be kept around the office as a reminder after the meeting. This is particularly common with graphic facilitation materials from motivational exercises.
Graphic facilitation can be performed in an open-ended meeting session, or it can be done to help a meeting address preset talking points. It can help keep a meeting on track by providing a map of the pathways already taken during the meeting. In this way, recording a meeting as it happens can help keep a group from wasting time by going back to points that have already been addressed or solved. Using graphics in a presentation can help visually highlight important points and can also help reach learners who do not learn well by hearing. It can also help someone attending a meeting create a visual memory of the information discussed there.