The Graphic Facilitator’s Guide To Offsite Success

a graphic recorder from imagethink helps facilitate a strategy session in front of a crowd

Tips for a powerful year-end strategy session.

The leaves are turning and the air is getting chill. For some, that means cider donuts and cozy evenings. But if you’re running a business, it means something else entirely: wrapping up the year and building your strategy for the next.

Year-end offsites are an opportunity to bring your entire team together for a much needed period of reflection and planning. Most companies, though, have only one or two days to devote to the task. That means getting smart about how you use your time together. At ImageThink, we’re no stranger to this. Our graphic facilitators help clients make the most of their time, with visual exercises and time management tools to keep conversations on track and on point.

Here are a few ways to make the most of your offsite.

Start With Purpose

Offsites, when done well, have the power to drive your team towards a unified goal with renewed dedication. Start your offsite with a clear definition of your company’s vision, mission, and values. Consider creating an infographic summary of your value proposition and tacking it to the wall as a reference. Ask your team to come prepared with a story that illustrates how someone in the office demonstrated a company value, and how it helped support their own work.

This simple exercise is a powerful way to remind folks of why they do the work they do, and also shows appreciation to fellow team members. What’s more, they will be able to use the vision, mission, and values as a compass for the rest of the session to keep conversations moving in the right direction.

Get The Right People In The Room

This might seem obvious, but it’s a crucial step that’s too often overlooked. No matter how carefully you’ve crafted your agenda or assembled your data, you’ll find yourself at a loss if key individuals are absent. For this reason, schedule your offsite well in advance to be sure attendees can protect the time in their busy calendars.

Designate A Meeting Facilitator

Whether it’s an hour-long strategy session, or a two day offsite, our graphic facilitators know that when the stakes are high, internal meetings can get quite tense or lop-sided. If you don’t have a graphic facilitator to moderate, designate a team member as a time-keeper and a discussion referee. It will be their job to ensure that all voices are heard, that discussions remain centered around the goal of the session, and that agenda timing is respected. Need a facilitation refresher? Check out our Essential Elements of Graphic Facilitation for some tips and tricks.

Stay On Track, With Graphic Facilitation Templates

Visual templates are a great way to energize meetings and keep conversations on track. They also help organize discussion output in a clear and legible way, so you can take insights forward without deciphering messy notes. Brainstorming process improvements? Try the Start/Start/Continue template. Organizing quarterly goals and action plans? Plug it into a Journey Map. Finally, be sure to assign owners to action items at the end of each session.

Not sure what template to use? Get in touch with our account manager for a visual framework customized to your session needs.

Use post it notes and a graphic facilitation template to let attendees choose which tasks they would like to own.

End With Next Steps

Nothing breaks our graphic facilitators’ hearts more than an insightful, energized, focused offsite that simply… ends. That’s because without concrete next steps, even the most revelatory insights will amount to nothing once your team leaves the meeting room. Be sure to end your offsite with a set of discrete action items with owners, due dates, and an understanding of how they support the overall company mission.

Need a little more help organizing your company offsite? Our graphic facilitators will energize your brainstorms and organize your output so you can focus on what really matters: your company’s goals and growth. Learn more about how we can help you make the most of your next big meeting, and start ImageThinking.

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