Graphic Facilitation Workshops

Beyond doing graphic recording myself, I offer two kinds of workshops on the practice of graphic recording and facilitation. One focuses on the use of visuals associated with specific facilitation techniques and group processes, and the other is a hands on introduction to graphic recording, also known as “I CAN DRAW.” I can also customize a workshop for your needs either alone or with one of my collaborators. (Image courtesy of Pen Machine)

Using Visuals With Group Processes & Facilitation Methods
This workshop originated at NexusU/Nexus for Change at Bowling Green State University in 2008. It offers an overview of how visuals can enhance group facilitation processes and methods such as World Cafe, Open Space, Appreciative Inquiry, and other methods, including interactive drawing methods that can be used to break the ice or open up thinking about an issue in a non-verbal manner. This workshop is part lecture, part conversation and a short hands on experience.

Description: Are you the kind of person who loves working with groups, who is interested in finding new ways to apply your listening and recording skills, and who learns best from doing and reflecting? Are you intrigued about the role of visuals in our group interactions and learning, especially in the context of whole systems change methods such as The World Cafe, Appreciative Inquiry and Open Space? This workshop is designed for a group of people to play and learn together  to develop your their practice in graphic recording and facilitation in the context of group processes. (You can see some examples here ). Graphic recording at its most basic is capturing what is happening in a group or presentation. (To learn more, see )

We’ll take a glimpse into the world of graphic recording, provide time to experiment and play with a range of tools and techniques, and explore how they can support a variety of whole systems change methods.

If you are looking for more of the “how to” part, pair it with the “I CAN DRAW” workshop.

Length: 2 hours minimum up to full day paired with “I CAN DRAW”

Blog post about this workshop.

I CAN DRAW – Hands On Writing on Walls – Short Form

This playful experiential workshop takes place almost entirely at the drawing surface, ideally in a room where we can hang large paper all around the room or use constructed 4×8 foot drawing boards. This workshop can start with very introductory level work for those who are reluctant to draw, and can be customized up to a full day graphic recording/facilitation workshop which includes not only the recording, but preparation and follow up with digital images. For those who want more in depth techniques, I usually bring in another artist to show the advanced work. Then people can see a range of styles and expertise. I’m still on the “newbee” side of the practice. This can help make the reluctant more comfortable. We can look silly together safely.

Description: Want to draw your notes instead of write them? Visually capture what is happening at a meeting or in a classroom? Engage people beyond words and text? Then come learn to write on walls, the practice of graphic recording and facilitation. Learn some basic techniques and tricks that enable any of us to draw as a way of capturing and communicating ideas with each other. This is a playful, hands-on experiential workshop. You do NOT need previous experience or have to consider yourself an artists. We can ALL draw. Come prepared to get your hands dirty. Bring a digital camera to record the fruits of your labor.

Length: 90 minutes minimum, ideally 2-3 hours. Can be paired with “Using Visuals With Group Processes & Facilitation Methods”

For a sense of a very short “I CAN DRAW” session, here is 6 minutes from a lightening fast 45 “taste of” workshop at Northern Voice in 2009.

Nancy White, on Graphic Recording 101 from jmv on Vimeo.

From Northern Voice 2008

And here is a video of the results of participants at the end of their 2.5 day learning experience…


2-3 Day Introduction to Graphic Facilitation and Recording:Using Visuals for Effective Engagement

This bespoke workshop is available to organizations and groups. I customize to your needs.

This experiential workshop takes place almost entirely at the drawing surface. We start on day one (often an afternoon or evening session) by warming up our drawing muscles and silencing those pesky inner censors. The second day, we’ll build into the basic practices of graphic facilitation and recording. We will pay attention to preparation, the actual visual work, and follow up including digital capture of paper based images. Our third day will be devoted to participatory graphic approaches, practicing and giving peer feedback. Build your repertoire of icons, ideas and approaches which you can use immediately, as well as ideas about how to hone your practice.

When might we use this practice?
Sometimes our imaginations are sparked by a visual where words fail us. Think about when communities plan and imagine their futures, when teams consider the possible outcomes for their projects, when groups create maps to track their progress.  These are all opportunities to use visuals to engage and deepen community dialogue. You can use visual thinking to improve teamwork, communications, meetings, build engagement and to plan work. Step out of the PowerPoint rut!

Who should attend?
Playful people! Newbies and experienced! Facilitators, project managers, team leaders and members, town planners, teachers and anyone who would like to engage others beyond words. Please note: You do NOT need previous experience or have to consider yourself an artist. At some level, we can all draw and use visuals to enhance our communications and engage diverse audiences.

Detailed Agenda:
Part 1: I CAN DRAW – Hands-On Writing on Walls
We’ll touch the paper, play with the pens and loosen up our drawing muscles. We’ll address the basics of “drawing  on walls” including starting shapes, lettering and some initial iconography. We’ll cover basic techniques and tricks that enable any of us to draw as a way of capturing and communicating ideas with each other. We’ll ask ourselves some questions, such as “What if you draw your notes instead of wrote them?” “Visually captured what is happening at a meeting or in a classroom?” “Engage people beyond words and text?” How would that change the experience for you and others?

When we get tired, we’ll spend some time looking at the work of diverse graphic facilitators, see how books can inspire us and play a bit with materials.  Dress for mess!

Part 2: Using Visuals With Group Processes & Facilitation Methods

Description: In the morning we’ll explore  how visuals can enhance  group  processes such as planning, meeting and evaluation. We’ll do mind maps, mandalas and simple flip chart enhancements  that you can immediately use.  We’ll look at the use of visuals with some specific group facilitation methods such as World Cafe, Open Space, Appreciative Inquiry, and others. This part of the workshop includes lecture, conversation and lots of hands on experience. We’ll explore practical applications while we continue to learn to write on walls, the base elements of the practice of graphic recording and facilitation.

Part 3: More on Graphic Recording
This afternoon we’ll focus on  traditional graphic recording (actively listening and capturing what is going on in a group, rather than using graphics as a facilitation device). We’ll review and practice  how to listen for key ideas, iconography, and organizing space. We’ll do a number of practice drawings then review our own work. We will hold several practice sessions in the safe space of the classroom.  This time will prepare you to record confidently in real work settings.

Part 4: Participatory Graphics and More Practice
Building on our drawing and exploration of visual practices in whole group processes, we’ll experiment more with participatory graphics. This is when the pen goes into everyone’s hands, not just the graphic recorder’s. When people “make their mark” it changes their experience and ownership of the experience. It can open up how they talk and think about things.

We’ll look at a range of participatory visual practices including methods such as visual icebreakers, “River of Life”, ” Knowledge Tree,” and other examples. Think about your group’s situations and needs and we can work to imagine practices that might help your real work!
We’ll intersperse our learning sessions with practice and feedback periods.  We’ll finish by looking at some of the resources available to visual practitioners!

Daily Graphic Jams!
From 4-5pm each day  we’ll offer an optional opportunity to practice visual thinking and drawing of key words and icons.


  • Come prepared to get your hands dirty.
  • Dress is comfortable clothes that can get dirty and you won’t be sad if they are stained.
  • Bring a pad of paper or journal to take notes – unlined is terrific.
  • Bring a digital camera to record the fruits of your labor.
  • We’ll bring paper, tape, some pens and chalk. Bring along your favorite supplies.

Examples from 2011 Rossland Workshop here and here.

Testimonials and Blogposts About My Work

Learning to Draw Perfect Circles and Starfish People: Capturing Collaborative Energy

Meg Whetung, Communications Designer


Nancy White’s session on graphic recording (or visual note taking) had an approachable mood and her exercises engaged participants in exploration. Standing up with markers and pastels in hand, there was laughter and the letting go of any preconceptions we carried about drawing. As a graphic designer, I draw every day, yet I left this session with many new ideas.

Observing Nancy’s approach, friendly tone, funny anecdotes, and her detailed yet simple explanations and the effect she had on the group taught me how to encourage people to relax and participate in an activity they may not ordinarily be comfortable with.

Collaboration has definitely been a buzzword in our office over the past few months, and as a designer I’m interested in opportunities to collaborate with non-designers (clients, editors, web programmers). Nancy’s session made me think about getting everyone together at the start of a project, equipping them all with pens and paper and generating initial ideas together visually – potentially a fun and effective way start to a project.

Check out Nancy’s Online Facilitation Wiki for tools and discussion of these visual methods. While explaining the benefits of taking a visual approach, she notes that visuals are “open and inviting to meaning-making (while text can be experienced as more declarative).”

I think this makes a great case for using graphic recording techniques during brainstorming meetings, where the goal is to explore possible meanings and outcomes together.

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