Guided Meetings

Creative Training and Facilitation Services

What do squirrels have to do with graphic recording?


I was asked by Amy Lenzo of the World Cafe to graphically depict the harvest after each of the last two classes of the online Fall/2014 World Cafe Hosting Fundamentals course.  While I have been doing graphic recording using my ipad for some time, this was the first time I would be doing it a) virtually and b) live with others watching me.  In order to share my ipad screen on the GoToWebinar platform, I needed to be able to wirelessly display my iPad on my computer.  That’s where the squirrels come in.  Squirrels are “apps to go nuts for” – and the app I used was Reflector.  Reflector is an AirPlay receiver that allows you to wirelessly mirror your device on a screen without wires.  Reflector worked very well.  Below you can see the graphic recordings from the classes.


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Importance of Image Selection

Relevant images are not merely about decoration.  They need to have purpose.  In Early Childhood we tend to put pictures of kids on everything.  I love looking at kids, but I encourage my clients to resist the temptation to put a child on a slide unless there is a particular purpose for that child being on the slide.  To illustrate this point, look at the slides below.

This first slide shows the data the content expert wanted to share with the webinar participants.








In order to make the content more teacher friendly, we might have just “decorated” the slide with a picture of a child.








But to add meaning and to provide a cognitive bridge between the abstract chart and what we see in children, I added images of the same child progressing through the trajectory of the response.























Visualizing PowerPoint Slides

Dr. John Medina’s Brain Rule #10 has validated my own practice of “visualizing” PowerPoint slides.  As I began to work with content specialists I found myself in the position of helping them learn about the pitfalls of heavily text based slides and the value of using images to support the content and give learners a “hook” to help them retain the information.

When visualizing others’ slides, I tread lightly.  I assure them that no content will be lost and that I will move almost all of the text on the slides in to the notes section.  I always visualize a couple of slides and get the content expert’s approval prior to visualizing the whole slide deck.

It is wonderful to hear the sound of the “aha” moment when the content experts get a chance to see what I’ve described.  Sometimes a whole new energy is spawned around the images spurring the content experts to freshen up the verbal delivery of their content.

Below is an example of a heavily text based slide that was visualized across 6 slides.





Join Me and ReadyTalk – September 17, 11-12:30 Pacific Time

Shawn Cardinal, from ReadyTalk, and I will be sharing strategies for gaining and maintaining participant attention, interaction, and engagement!  Come join us on the ReadyTalk platform…and be prepared to share your thoughts and ideas, too.




Silence: Rules of Thumb

If silence is important to encourage engagement by participants in webinars and online meetings AND if facilitators/presenters cannot rely on visual cues like we do in face-to-face situations…how can we know how much time to allow for participants to respond?

There are several factors at play:

  • what type of response you want (a simple Yes/No, a simple choice between pre-determined options, a complex choice between pre-determined options, a one-word answer, a short written answer, vocal response, a complex comparison, etc.)
  • what tool you will use to gather those answers/responses (poll, chat, whiteboard, etc.)
  • participants’ familiarity with the online tools
  • participants’ familiarity with the content
  • how many individuals are participating

So what can you do to insure that everyone has a chance to get their two cents in without losing those who are quick on their feet to other distractions?  Consider the chart below (click to enlarge).

Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 11.15.26 AM

CHECK IT OUT:  Do an experiment with some colleagues.  Have them participate in a webinar that includes a variety of activities.  Time how long it takes for them to respond to each activity and afterwards, ask for their subjective experience…how did it feel as a participant?  Was there enough time?  Did they feel rushed?  Was there too much time?  Did they find themselves drifting away from the webinar?  Did they need/want some clues about the timing (e.g., stating “90 more seconds”, a countdown timer)?

See Silence: What’s Going On?

UPDATE:  The more webinars I do the more I realize how little wait time I am actually providing the participants.  Recently I had the opportunity to use a platform which gave me a timer for polls.  I started noting how long it took participants to register their poll answers.  Consistently it took at least 30 seconds more than I typically have allotted for the first participants to provide their response!  For example, Yes/No response times were 60-90 seconds (instead of the 30 seconds I had been giving).  CHECK IT OUT:  Use a timer to track how quickly answers start coming in and how long it takes for a majority of the participants to respond.  Use those data to inform your practice for future webinars.

Silence: What’s Going On?

If you are a teacher, a trainer, or facilitator you have learned the power of silence for learning and deepening dialogue.  When we have the visual cues of those sitting in front of us…a thoughtful look, a pencil scratching on paper, a shifting in seats…we can gauge when to break that silence.  However, in an online environment, there are very few of those cues to rely upon and you must learn to be comfortable with the silence and give participants plenty of time to think and respond.  What happens in those moments of silence?  Participants…


  • think about the question or concept before them.
  • formulate an answer or response.
  • relocate or refamiliarize themselves with the online tool being used.
  • type their responses into chat, on a whiteboard, or share their thoughts via a poll.
  • edit for typos and misspellings.
  • filter their responses based on who else is participating and who else might see their post.

That’s a lot of processing and yet most of the time we give 30 seconds or less for folks to respond.  So what might feel like an eternity of silence to the presenter or facilitator in a participatory webinar…is fleeting moment of time for the participants.

See Silence: Rules of Thumb

Anchoring Ideas Visually

Whenever I go to conferences I use my ipad to take notes…using images and text to provide an anchor for the concepts being presented and discussed. The images later evoke for me the key points of the presentations. Here are a series of visual notes I took at DevLearn 2012. (Click on images to enlarge.)


Conference Calls – Just for Fun

Screen shot 2013-09-21 at 6.26.28 PMI ran across a humorous description of a typical conference call that rang true to my own experience.  I had to capture it visually because it struck such a cord with me.  Dave Grady gave me permission to pair his audio with my animated drawing, which you can view here:

Please note, this a was a quick in-the-moment practice of graphic recording…you will find some places where the graphic departs slightly from the audio.  I also learned some important things about graphic recording…like how red does not work well for text.  

You can view Dave’s original video here:


Creating Consensus – Making Magic Happen Online

I am always delighted to watch how, when using the ToP methods, a wide variety of disparate ideas are shared, refined, categorized and agreed upon. The structure of the methods makes this process effective and seem almost magical. But can that magic happen online?

This week I had the pleasure of working with a large mental health services company to begin the process of revising their leadership development program. Using Adobe Connect, 13 company leaders met to discuss and agree upon the essential skills and abilities needed for a leader to be successful in the company’s context. Using the ToP methods approximately 40 distinct ideas were shared, discussed, and prioritized in small groups. Through an iterative process the ideas were clustered, clarified, and categorized into 6 groups. By the end of the 2 hour online meeting the leaders were able to agree that, for them, the categories of skills and abilities they developed represent the essential skills and abilities needed by leaders in their company.

Did the magic happen online? Yes! It did. Did we learn that we should do some things differently to make the methods more effective in the online environment? Absolutely.

Telling the Story

More and more we are becoming aware of how important it is to connect stories to our work.  Stories provide a real world description of the impact of what we do and how we do it.   Stories weave the human element into data that is shared.  Stories speak to the value of our efforts.

I had worked with a client for a little while and knew a bit about their services, but it was not until I was asked to tell their story that I really understood just how innovative their work has been and continues to be. This short clip provides a taste of the founder’s vision and how he went about achieving this vision.