On Showing Rather Than Telling
My physics professor in college had the most intricate board work. When he covered the chapter in electrodynamics, the blackboard at the end of the class was a piece of artwork that served as a key to unlocking the interactions between magnetic and electric forcefields sketched out with chalk lines in specific colors. I am further amazed when facilitators can draw out what’s being discussed by the group without initially knowing what the discussion points might be. Comments from different people get reduced to a few key words and relationships among them will become apparent with a few strategically placed arrows and graphic characterizations of key concepts. The transformation between the world of discussion (the “talk coordinates in 4 dimensions of the meeting space and time”) to the graphical representation you get at the end on a 2 dimensional space seems like magic to me, every time (almost as impressive as Noether’s Theorem
, where a specific conservation law falls out in transforming from one coordinates to another). Having been a teacher and a facilitator and a moderator of meetings, I strive to practice this magic. Like magic, sometimes the techniques are not discussed clearly in public. I reached out to my friend, Deb Aoki, a long time friend from LavaNet days in Hawaii when she was both an employee and a cartoonist for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Among other things, she is currently the Senior Information Experience Designer
Here is her curated list of references (presented here with her permission):
- Skills you need for graphic facilitation (where the author presents strategies for drawing in business settings and how it can help)
- Ways to illustrate abstract concepts that can be tricky
- Above principles are also covered by the founder of the Grove Consultants
- Visual Meetings
- Other books he wrote includes Visual Teams and Visual Leaders, continuing with the above themes.
Like with many magic, skills and techniques alone cannot bring you to a grand reveal and “prestige
“: they are only useful when the understanding of the audience and having a clear intention and recognition of the power of story telling are paramount to your event.
Photo: Art installation in Sonoma County, California