Help Participants “See” “

i get itEver wonder how you can ignite participant understanding? Open up the dams of creativity? Or help group members brainstorm new possibilities?

Believe it or not, by adding simple visuals, graphics and images to your meetings, you can accomplish all three plus more.

As a professional facilitator, I use visual metaphors and templates whenever possible. For example, Continue reading “Help Participants “See” “”

Using Visuals in Facilitated Meetings and Workshops

“There is no more powerful way to prove that we know something well than to draw a simple picture of it. And there is no more powerful way to see hidden solutions than to pick up a pen and draw out the pieces of our problem.

According to Dan Roam, in The Back of the Napkin, a simple drawing on a humble napkin can be more powerful than the slickest PowerPoint presentation.  As facilitators, we can help our groups clarify problems, and understand ideas better, by using a simple set of visual tools. Our experience at Masterful Facilitation Institute confirms Roam assertion that almost everyone seems born with a talent for visual thinking, even those who swear they can’t draw. In our fun visual/graphics courses, we show you how to use simple lines and shapes to create graphics, visual metaphors, and basic images to help bring meeting results to life.

By adding visual thinking and simple graphic skills to your competencies, not only do you become a more effective facilitator; you also gain a powerful ability to discover, develop and sell new ideas, solve problems in unexpected ways, and dramatically improve your ability to share your insights with others.

Take a few moments to watch Roam’s video on The Back of a Napkin. If you are a self-directed learner, you may want to buy his book. And if like many of us, you learn best by doing, then consider bringing our visual/graphics courses in-house. You’ll have a blast, as you quickly up-level your visual thinking and graphic facilitation skills.

Engaging Meetings

LifetoMeetingsLife is too short to waste time in meetings. We all need to learn how to cut through the confusion, reduce the stress, and transform bad meeting habits into productive, focused and positive results. Engaging meetings have LIFE, and are characterized by:
  • Lively Meeting Process
  • Interactions for Authenticity and Health
  • Focused Meeting Outcomes and Visible Record
  • Engagement of People


Somehow when most of us went through our schooling, whatever system we were in just assumed that either: 1) we already knew how to design and facilitate great meetings, or 2) we would pick it up by osmosis through the keen observation of our bosses and peers. Not!

Great meetings depend upon designing a variety of activities to time-efficiently and productively achieve the meeting goals, and facilitating each exercise in such a way that participants feel alive, enthused, and energized. A good meeting design is actually a plan of what will happen, when, and in what way to ensure everyone contributes for maximum results.


Every meeting is an opportunity to foster authentic and respectful exchanges that build relationships. Why is this important? Human beings are nested in webs of relationships through many networks. The existence and strength of those relationships is an important contributor to enabling the success of meeting results after people leave. Whether the meetings you facilitate are within organizations (e.g., intact or project team, management groups or Boards) or span a diversity of community groups (e.g., citizen or parent meetings, multi-stakeholder groups, global advocacy networks), learn how to build trust, mutual understanding, and shared values during the meeting through healthy and learning-focused participant interactions.


Clarity of purpose, goals and outcomes are critical to solid meeting results. Too many meetings waste people’s time because of insufficient upfront work in clarifying the key questions of ‘why, what, who’. Confusion can also arise from poor records of the key points, ideas, actions and agreements . Visible work records (with graphics and visuals if possible!) help enlist both head for understanding and heart for alignment.


“None of us is as smart as all of us. …the problems we face are too complex to be solved by any one person or any one discipline. Our only chance is to bring people together from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines who can refract a problem through the prism of complementary minds allied in common purpose.” (The Secrets of Great Groups –Warren Bennis)

Long gone are the days when management alone, elected officials alone, technical and economic experts alone, can find the right answers. Almost every issue and topic today is vast and complex. Collaboration and wise action requires engaging the right people appropriately at the right time through the right processes, in right timing around the right questions. If you believe that participation, involvement and engagement of people are needed for better outcomes, then you must also be committed to learning how to design and facilitate great meetings.

Enroll in one of our Masterful Facilitation Institute courses and learn how to bring LIFE to meetings.