ASK Christina — have you found audiences that resisted graphic methods as childish

Hi Christina

I’ve been interested in graphic recording and facilitating since attending a meeting in San Francisco years ago where Grove Consultants recorded.

Your recent free info webinar “Fundamentals of Interactive-Graphics” was very helpful.  I’m looking at how to put together the time to move forward on learning to use graphic techniques in my consulting and training work.  I did have one question – have you found audiences that resisted graphic methods as childish — are there any generalizations by profession, culture or community etc that you can make about the acceptability of graphic methods?

Thanks so much.  ~Terri


Thanks Terri for your question.  First off, no, I don’t find that people or audiences find graphic recording or graphic faciltiation ‘childish’ per se (at least when they experience in … and experience it with someone who knows what they are doing). But it is natural for  some clients to have some reluctance at first … and, remember from the webinar that there are different applications of the work … so the level of resistance can depend on which application you are wanting to bring into a group or organization (i.e. custom chart work, graphic recording, graphic facilitation and/or graphic coaching).

The reluctance that people have is that your sponsor doesn’t  want to be embarrassed by taking the perceived risk to bring it into their organization. Therefore, your sponsor can sometimes be worried about how it will go over and whether it will make them look stupid or naive — this normally only happens in people who are hearing about the work second hand (i.e. they have not personally experienced it in action before so they are going off of somebody else’s word or recommendation … therefore they don’t really understand the nature of this way of working yet and are just focused on its ‘pretty picture’ nature instead of its real power). For folks who have experienced one of the methods before, they are usually won over … hence their interest in wanting to bring it into their own organization in the first place. They know the power of it and want their group and/or organization to reap the benefits.

Its good if you can get your sponsor into an event so they can experience the method themself first, so their anxiety is allieviated. So they understand more about what it is about live, instead of just looking at the artifacts (walls charts or reproductions that are produced). This work (especially graphic faciliation and/or graphic coaching is all about ‘process’ … i.e. HOW it is created (very collaboratively and in the moment). Soooo, if you can get someone into a live event so they can experience its power for themselves, it usually helps.

And, for what its worth, they will still be a little nervous about bringing it into their organization (and being the person responisble for that) until they see how their own colleagues react to it. They usually give a big sigh of relief at the first break of an event where I am working with them …. as their colleagues come up and congratulate them on how cool it is, effective and what a good idea to use the visual methods. That they are really enjoying it and see its value. Its very validating to see them get those kudos for taking the risk to bring me in. You’ll find the same thing once you develop your craft a bit and know what you are doing.

I find that, unless its for a big conference or meeting, that Graphic Recording is a harder sell, because it is more of a luxury or ‘nice to have’ item. Whereas Graphic Facilitation is a much easier sell (at least for me and in my experience) because I find it a much more useful activity overall. It is very tactical and serious. I’m usually being brought in to use it in strategic planning and visioning forums, which is an excellent application for it. When you explain and show how it is a serious and very collaborative decision-making aid, most clients (even if they haven’t experienced it before) can understand how working visually in the big format can really help. Of course, they are still taking what they perceive as a risk or at least a calculated gamble when they opt to use you and the visual way of working over a more traditional approach. But I’ve always won them over because of the extra effectiveness that this way of working brings. They become converts. Word of mouth has always been my biggest marketing strategy. Good work begets more work.

As for which industries might be a harder sell: financial, accounting, medical and engineering. However, I will also tell you that these industries have also been my biggest clients after I win them over — because the visual method is something that really balances the more traditional methods that they already do well. So they end up with a holistic/blended meeting and approach. Engineers and accountants especially appreciate the logicalness of the approach.

All the best with the development of your interactive-graphic skills. Doodlers Unite!

Cheers, Christina

Christina Merkley
Interactive-Graphics Mentor
& The SHIFT-IT Coach

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