Book Review: The Graphic Facilitators Guide: How to use your listening, thinking and drawing skills to make meaning.

An Insider’s Guide to Graphic Facilitation

Book Review: The Graphic Facilitator’s Guide: How to use your listening, thinking and drawing skills to make meaning. 

There are two types of meeting: The “usual” kind — dull presentations with dueling monologues, furtive glances at your blackberry, daydreaming and distraction; and the “other” kind — the one with lively interaction, productive conversations, connecting of dots, shared understanding and a plan to go forward. If you have participated in the other kind, it’s likely you are familiar with Graphic Recording or Graphic Facilitation.  Graphic Recordings are mural sized sketchnotes that track a meeting and quite literally, put everyone on the same page.

If you like the sound of the “other” kind of meetings, if you’re a visual thinker, if you’ve picked up a copy and liked Dan Roam‘s Blah Blah BlahBrandy Agerbeck‘s new book is for you.

The Graphic Facilitator’s Guide: How to use your listening, thinking and drawing skills to make meaning. Is available at

According to Agerbeck, “Graphic Facilitation works for anyone who values being listened to, teams who want to understand each other — those who want to see their work made transparent and tangible.”

I first learned graphic facilitation at the Grove several years ago, and have used it ever since. It’s simple to do, but hard to perfect. It takes time and practice. The Graphic Facilitator’s Guide is full of practical, simple advice, useful for practitioners as well as those that want to dip their toe in the water.  It’s structured around 25 guiding principles. I found myself chuckling over the field guide to speakers, having come across the motivational speaker, who wanders and weaves passionately through their topic and is sometimes difficult to follow, and the detail oriented person who spouts facts and figures and can drive a graphic recorder crazy, I’ve fallen in love with the big picture person who can help in neatly summarizing what’s going on.

The Guide is chock full of useful tips. The first thing novice graphic facilitators notice is how the world speeds up when you have a marker in your hand. Brandy shows you how to be quick like a bunny. She lists the qualities of a successful graphic facilitator. (Most people think it’s about being able to draw well. I’ve found it’s more about being able to spell well.) We all make mistakes, Brandy has advice about how to overcome that, from the obvious  — pack some tape or sticky labels to use like correction fluid to the sublime — draw a red squiggly line under a misspelled word to imitate spell-check.

Apart from the practical advice, there is deeper wisdom in the pages. Brandy points out that, “Graphic Facilitation is equal parts listening, thinking and drawing… with the not so gentle reminder that it’s not this:”

Graphic Facilitation, According to Agerbeck, is equal parts Listening, Thinking and Drawing.                             Not Listening, Thinking and DRAWING.

That said, people are still drawn to the Draw. But one of the biggest fears that people have is picking up a marker and showing off your drawing skills in public.  People don’t like public speaking, yet everyone speaks every day. When it comes to public drawing, most of us haven’t done that since kindergarten. Fear not. Agerbeck shows you the building blocks of her own unique drawing style — The Essential Eight — and breaks down the logic of when and how to apply them.

A page from the book: The seventh component of the Essential Eight — Boxes. here Brandy shows how different shapes represent different types of ideas.


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Gavin_Animated-GifGavin is a founding partner at fassforward Consulting Group. He blogs about PowerPoint, Presenting, Communication and Message Discipline at You can follow him on twitter @powerfulpoint.

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One Comment

  1. Patricia Kambitsch | July 20, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Content is king!!! Quick like a bunny!!! Ilove this book and think the world of Brandy’s work. Very practical.Beautiful. Engaging. Worth every penny.

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