Visual Literacy Conference: The Visual Facilitator’s Toolbox
I was invited this past weekend to come down and speak at the Visual Thinking & Literacy conference just outside of Detroit, Michigan. It was an interesting opportunity as the conference was actually being put on in conjunction with one of the large intermediary school districts down there which meant much of the audience was comprised of teachers. It was also an opportunity to collaborate with several friends from my VizThink days.
My session was entitled “The Visual Facilitator’s Toolbox” and my intention was to cover some foundational exercises, or “games” that people could easily take home with them to put to use in the classroom or office. I had roughly 30 people in the room and I started out showing them some simple ways to survey a room by first asking them whether they were a teacher or business person. Secondly I asked them to brainstorm what challenges or problems they have that they’d like to learn an approach to help them solve it.
Based on those responses I chose a handful of exercises to cover and got started with teaching them a quick method of affinity mapping which had them brainstorming and then up at the wall clustering & naming their categories. We then returned to our seats and I spent the remainder of the session illustrating simple visual models or games that hey could use to further refine or use the outputs from an affinity map session as well as answering their questions.
This was an interesting session to do, to prepare for it I spent some time considering flow and brainstorming exercises that would be appropriate to share but I decided to forgo a deck and instead hand drew everything on flipcharts at the front of the room – as a result I don’t have a deck to share but it was much better for the participants I feel as I basically customized the workshop based on their responses to my initial questions.
I also intentionally didn’t want the experience to feel tight & polished because I wanted the techniques to feel approachable and doable by anyone. When you show someone a refined template I find they don’t see how to recreate it themselves as easily as if you draw it out for them right in front of them (it also means they need to draw it in their own notebook too!)
Some of the techniques/games we covered: