Virtual graphic facilitation

Screen Shot 2020-04-12 at 9.46.49 PMScreen Shot 2020-04-13 at 11.20.57 AMI did my first virtual graphic facilitation last week, connecting around 30 participants from Myanmar, Thailand, France, and the Philippines. Here is what I learned from this experience.

Quality of conversation: In a virtual workshop, communication flows from participants to facilitators, rather than among participants. ZOOM breakout rooms made people talk more in a group but it wasn’t enough.

The virtual workshop format seems to work well for factual discussion. Sitting in front of a computer, typing a keyboard might activate participants’ operational brain. But it was more difficult to capture unspoken feelings, embrace ambiguity and uncertainty as a group.

Reading between the lines, or as Japanese say ‘reading the air’ is a key element for a graphic facilitator. Especially with an ever-challenging situation with COVID-19, sharing those feelings might have been helpful.

Lesson learned: take more time to check-in, as well as make space and time for participants to talk among themselves such as breakout rooms.

Mastering technology: Overall technology worked well despite big concerns about poor internet connection. In the case of tech failure, all presentations and activities were pre-recorded. That made the group feel safe to continue the workshop.

For me, digital facilitation is an art of multitasking. Drawing with Wacom tablet and photoshop, being a host in ZOOM, keeping time and getting the process going, listening to participants, and managing chats. At one point, we used a virtual sticky note to collect ideas as well. (We used as it seems to be simple and user friendly.)

As you can imagine, my brain and hands were working 120%. While I typically finish my drawing by the closing of the workshop, I just couldn’t finish it this time.

Lesson learned: work sharing. thorough preparation with co-facilitator to check every step on tech and process.

Learning from gurus: 4 weeks ago, I didn’t know anything about digital facilitation. It was a steep learning curve to deliver the workshop. Followings are three sources of information that helped me a lot:

– Unity Effect: their free digital facilitation course opened the door for me.

– Rachel Smith’s blog Digital Facilitation: Her workshop at the IAF conference in Tokyo was a turning point for me to start my career as a graphic facilitator. 7 years later, her blog helped me again to make a shift to the digital world.

– IAF virtual facilitation resource toolkit: There is plenty of resources on the IAF website. Particularly Resources for Online Meetings, Classes, and Events – Facilitators for Pandemic Response Group had full of useful tips and links.

Go Visual! Evaluation of school feeding programme in Bangladesh

I was honored to facilitate an evaluation workshop of World Food Programme Bangladesh school feeding programme.

A workshop in Cox’s Bazar, I tried to capture key findings of evaluation without using any text. Only images. Why? Participating parents from the community were illiterate. I wanted to make sure they understand what consultants say visually.

Despite evaluation findings are complex and technical, all participants, including those at the community level, had a chance to understand and give feedback to the programme.

The next WFP graphic evaluation workshop will be in Lao PDR.



Let’s co-create

Recently, several of my clients hired videographers and photographers to record the workshop.

The dynamics of graphic facilitation for me is that you don’t know what outcome will be at the end of the day. It is the spirit of co-creation. Everyone at the workshop including organizer, participants, and facilitator is all part of the process to visualize what emerges from the conversation.

Hope this short video will capture the dynamism of the interactive workshop.





Basic elements of graphic facilitation


Several participants at workshops and LinkedIn friends asked me about graphic recording and facilitation. Here is a brief summary of what I do. I do graphic recording and graphic facilitation.

Graphic recording is when I visualise the conversation on the spot at conferences and workshops. Graphic facilitation, on the other hand, is a mix of visualizatoin and facilitation.

Clearly graphic facilitation requires more skills and training. Personally I like graphic facilitation more as that’s where the power of graphic and facilitation comes together.

Here is the list of training I took to become a graphic facilitator:

  • Visalisation in Participatory Programmes (VIPP) in Black Forest, Germany was my first training course as professional facilitator.
  • Grove’s graphic facilitation course during International Association of Facilitators conference in Tokyo gave me a practical tips and techniques.
  • The certification course of solution-focused coaching gave me a foundation skills as a coach.
  • U lab at MIT showed me how the power of graphic recording by Kelvy Bird.

I also get inspiration from many resources. Particularly “Graphic Recording” is a great book with many examples and list of graphic recorders.



I enjoyed a graphic facilitation of cross-cultural communication, particularly a session on AIKIDO last weekend. AIKIDO provides so much insights about being persuasive and non-confrontational in cultures like Philippines and Japan. Thanks @spiceworx_mnl

Power of choice

We make choices everyday. Small choices or big choices. Active choices (i.e. do something) or  passive ones (not to do something).


Big choices with big impact. This includes lifetime decisions such as marriage, jobs, and schools you go to.

Small choices with big impact. What we eat and drink for lunch doesn’t seem to be a big choice, but our eating habits has a big impact to us. Sending one small thank you note to someone isn’t a big decision, but it can lead to a big difference.

Big choices with small impact. Confessions requires courage, but sometimes the impact isn’t as big as you expect.

Small choices with small impact. Trivia. Many of our daily life and work decisions fall into this box.

In the end it is about making conscious choices. Be it the food I eat or the words I use. I wish to be more mindful on those choices.