4 Simple Tools for More Visual Meetings

September 25, 2012

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Recently, we were asked to contribute an article to a new publication called New Pharma Thinkers, you can check it out here. It was all about how to make a meeting more effective by using visual tools. In fact, in that article we stressed that: “Visuals get everyone literally on the same page.” Of course, the best way to really leverage the power of visual thinking for your meetings is to get a graphic facilitator in the room. But for the day-to-day meetings, a few simple tools and a little knowledge about how to use them can go a long way.

Big Paper

Anything you’re writing or drawing needs to be large enough for everyone in the room to see clearly. For most of us, good old letter size is the biggest paper we use, but it’s really not enough when it comes to working with a group. When you have the physical room to expand on your ideas, all kinds of possibilities open up.

Markers

Big, bold markers in just a handful of colors are a must! Stock up so there are enough to go around, with extras in case you run out. Dried out markers are no fun, and they are lighter and less visible. We love Neuland markers — they’re non-toxic, refillable and come in a wide variety of colors. Which colors? Start with lots of blacks and some basics like red, yellow, orange, blue and green. Keep most text in black and blue, highlight and illustrate with the others.

Sticky notes and index cards

When working with a lot of separate elements — for instance, steps or tasks in a project — it’s great to be able to move them around. Sticky notes make this possible on any surface, but if you have index cards that you can lay out on a large table, that works, too. Suddenly it becomes much easier to explore different ways to sort, prioritize and group the individual elements of the problem you’re working on. Color can add another layer of meaning to the notes and cards.

Dot stickers

Let’s say your meeting is about deciding which programs to pursue in the next year. A quick and surprisingly powerful way to get a sense of where the group’s interest lies. Write each idea in the running up on your big paper. Hand out stickers to each person — give them a number of stickers equal to about one third of the items being voted on — and ask them to place dots as votes. Suddenly, you have a snapshot of which items are the most important in terms of group opinion.

Bonus Tool: Wizard Wall

We first saw the Wizard Wall at this year’s IFVP Conference. It’s a length of static-cling film that can turn just about any surface into a white board. Pop it up on your office wall for a quick brainstorming meeting, or to work out a customer journey.

Endless possibilities!

Using just the few simple tools we’ve listed here, there are almost countless ways of engaging a problem that are more effective than talking alone. If you want to learn more about using visual methods for effective meetings, we can highly recommend the book, Gamestorming. We think you’ll be amazed at the results you’ll get with something as seemingly insignificant as sticky notes. We’d love to hear how you use them!
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