The value of visual facilitation

Author: Julie Gieseke, Visual Facilitator (Email)

Did you know that more than 80% of us are visual learners? Yet, our standard meeting structure is to get a bunch of people in a room or online and talk. Sometimes we include a presentation slide deck, but the slides are often just text with an image or two. Studies show that visual images combined with text, increases memory retention up to 89% (Robert Horn, Stanford University). Before you suffer through yet another lengthy Zoom meeting, consider that there is a better way.

Visual facilitation is the real-time capture in images and words of the conversation or presentation in meetings, and it can be used whether the meeting is with just a few people or thousands. As a visual facilitator I listen for salient points in the group conversation, synthesizing them and translating them into a visual form. When I work with groups in person, I use a huge sheet of paper in front of the room. When I facilitate virtually, I create digital drawings that can be shared in real time or at key moments of group reflection and discernment.

Here’s what visual facilitation can bring to your meeting:

  • Better decision-making, by keeping the information and ideas that have been shared, visible, groups can discern together based on the collective knowledge they have generated in dialog and presentations.
  • Enhanced ability to retain and recall or review the content because there is a visual reference. In one view you get the big picture rather than relying on written notes.
  • Transparency, trust, and focus are increased when the information is visible, allowing individuals and groups to see the ‘big picture’.
  • Increased engagement in virtual and face-to-face sessions because content is available in multiple forms, allowing for different learning styles. Language challenges are also supported by including visual synthesis.
  • For community engagement, seeing the thoughts and ideas captured enhances the sense of being heard and has the potential to decrease opportunities for conflict and misunderstanding.
  • The ability to communicate plans to a broader audience. Not everyone wants to read a detailed report or a strategic plan, but having a visual synthesis of a plan can be a way to expose a broader audience to the work being done and plans for the future.

Raftelis is one of only a handful of companies in the country that have an internal resource for graphic recording and visual facilitation.


A visual framework of a strategic plan:

GSWASA strategic plan graphic

A visual note of presentation: