Marcel van Hove
Graphic Recording .

Graphic Recordings of Spark the Change Conference 2015 in Melbourne

Hello Changemakers,

I uploaded the graphic recordings of the Spark the Change conference in Melbourne. It was a wonderful day where we learnt a lot. Those thirteen graphic recordings are a combined effort of Donna McGrath, Christiane Anderson and me over the full day of the conference. Each letter is one fabulous talk by a stunning speaker. It was a pleasure to record those talks.

I hope the recordings help to remember and make the things you learnt stick!

Spark the Change Conference Melbourne 2015

If you like to download high resolution JPGs just download them from flickr directly. I would appreciate if you spread the word about Donna’s, Christiane’s and my work if using the pictures on a different platform. In addition, those drawings are not rocket science! Everyone can learn it! Please check out my bikablo® visual facilitation trainings and join in at one of the next trainings.

And here is the video to get a feeling for a one day graphic recording gig.


What is visual facilitation about?

Let’s say we have a group of people who share the same working context, meaning being in the same meeting and aiming for the same desired outcome . Have a look at my video to understand how it’s working:

Creating real exchange between people

This hot air balloon acts as a symbol for sharing the same context. As the facilitator I have one key assumption which is, that best collaboration can happen if we create real exchange between people. What I mean is basically showing more of ourselves to each other. If we do that we exchange much more than just content – we create a real emotional relationship! Drawing together is a great way to achieve that emotional connection.

Desired change or outcome

I think real exchange is actually the only way how organisations can do change and create an engaging culture that helps them to thrive.
Coming back to the group being in the same meeting: What this group wants to achieve is to come to a desired outcome or do a change together.

The progress during the meeting is not linear, often the meeting has many ups and downs and hopefully ends successful. This is where the role of the facilitator comes into play. So let’s have a look at the facilitator first.

The role of a facilitator

As a facilitator I’m a guide that leads the group through these ups and downs. The facilitator is not part of the group, he is not working in the content, he is more the creator of the working environment so that the group can have this real exchange and collaborate well. So what is now a visual facilitator doing?

The visual facilitator

Listen, capture, reflect back like a mirror

As a visual facilitator, as the word says, we make things visible. We listen to statements, quotes and ideas, but we also look for hidden things, like emotional positive reactions or conflicts. We are able to raise awareness around that in a neutral way.

A good friend of mine, Martin Haussmann, says: A visual facilitator is like being the marker – being the pen for the group.

So we bring onto this canvas what the people say and through drawing it we reflect it back to the group. We are acting as a mirror for the group process and help them through that change.

We are quite often not completely aware what the detailed discussion is about and that is not needed because we’re working a bit underneath the content layer. In this way it doesn’t replace meeting minutes. We create a richer picture but not a detailed summary.

Ten meter wide drawing

Let’s say we capture a 2-day conference, then it could be that the screen is 10 meters wide. In the beginning of the first day it is almost empty, it might have a headline or a topic on it. However through the progress of the days we capture what happened and by the end of the conference we have created a timeline of insights.

Graphic Recording of a the Activate Agile Session


A facilitator is in charge of the dialogue, the exchange in the group. He creates the space for collaboration. That’s true for the visual facilitator as well but he also captures the insights on a big screen and reflects them back to the group to inspire them to work further. Through that we create a visual summary of what has happened. We actually make the dialogue visible.

If you liked what I just explained, or if you need a visual facilitator just shoot me an email or call me. If you want to learn it yourself come to my next visual facilitation training class. And follow me on twitter

  • Visual Facilitation Fishbowl

The visual facilitation fishbowl

Visual notes help us to remember and to structure our thinking. A visual facilitation fishbowl combines the strength of visuals with the facilitation format of a fishbowl.

Facilitating big group discussions

Facilitating big group discussions can be challenging. Especially when you want to discuss one specific topic in the middle. You need to be an experienced facilitator to keep the conversation running and everyone engaged. It gets even harder if the topic has many side tracks and you as the facilitator have to decide which side track is important for the discussion and which one needs to be shortened. To make this a group decision and keep the discussion flowing the fishbowl format is worth a try.

The Fishbowl technique

The fishbowl works with two concentric circles of chairs in the room. One small inner circle (4-6 chairs) where the speakers sit and drive the conversation and an outer circle (many people) where the audience sits, listens and thinks about new ideas .

The rule of the fishbowl is that only the people in the inner circle are allowed to talk. If you are sitting in the outer circle and would like to add something to the conversation you need to stand up and walk from your seat in the outer circle towards the inner circle. If all chairs are occupied in the inner-circle you line up and wait until someone stands up and offers you his chair. Normally that doesn’t take long. As soon as you sit you can add your point to the conversation.

The visual facilitation fishbowl

It may sound a bit difficult to do but with a bit of practise the group moves its way into collaborative visual thinking!

So what is a visual facilitation fishbowl? The visual facilitation fishbowl is very similar to the normal fishbowl and all the rules apply. However two things are different:

  1. 1. The u-shape circle:
    Instead of two closed circles, you turn the inner and outer-circle of the fishbowl to an open circle (u-shape circle) and place a pinboard at the opening of the circles.
  2. 2. The outer circle:
    The outer-circle is not in the passive listener role – in the outer circle you turn into a doodler or scribbler. You write down and draw insights you have while you are listening carefully. As soon as you have a visual note on A4 paper finished you bring it to the front wall so that everyone can see and read it. These sheets of paper provide a flow of insights for everyone. The inner-circle can relate to them which helps to lead the conversation. If you have an insight on paper you would like to explain, stand up with your drawing, join the inner-circle.
    (The picture is taken during an in-house visual facilitation training where we practised graphic recording in a visual facilitation fishbowl setting.)

Become a visual thinker!

If you think you can’t draw – you are welcome to join my bikablo® visual facilitation fundamentals training (Level 1.1). No drawing skills required!

Discover how much Visual Facilitation can help to do discussions and achieving goals . If you are having any questions, please feel free to contact me via Mail or Phone.



Graphic Recording of Agile Australia

Last week I had the honour to create a graphic recording for Activate Agile session of the Agile Australia 2014. It was a really nice day which brought students and future employers together.

Students and employers together

Seven great and inspiring agile professionals across different companies described their daily work-life in their agile companies. The audience were mostly students and were invited to ask questions to the panel on stage. Awesome idea of the organizers to bring the graduates of the future together with great employers.

Graphic Recording – Check out the video

The stop-motion video below summarizes the 2:30 hours of lightning talks, question and answers sessions from the seven inspiring Melbournians on stage! Check it out!

  • Graphic Recording in A4

Graphic facilitation on A4 paper – The golden middle way

Graphic Facilitation & Recording in A4

Graphic Recording in A4

Almost every meeting I sit in and every workshop and training I attend – I doodle. It helps me to organize my thoughts and capture key insights I had. So why do I do it on A4 paper and not in my private notebook? Learn more about graphic facilitation and how to do notes now.

Notes taking activity

During meetings people often ask me to have a look at my notes and if I would do it in my private notebook, I guess that would not happen so often. It could be seen as lurking into Marcel’s private diary. Who in their right mind would do that? Furthermore I can just put finished A4 drawings in the middle of the meeting table to share them. I don’t need to explain, I just put them in the middle. It happened that someone started picking up the finished A4s and put them up on the wall with blue tag. At this points my note taking activity becomes a group activity and collaboration started. People refer back to the pictures.

Support the meeting with graphic facilitation

So why not using a big sheet of paper. 1.5 meters wide and 3 meters long? I think if I am invited to participate in a meeting as a mate it could be seen as an act of overtaking the meeting or even worse – showing off what a tale poppy I am. Who in their right mind would do that? Remember you are not invited to the meeting as a professional graphic recorder – you just know the value of graphic facilitation in a meeting and want to support the meeting with your doodling!

The golden middle way

What’s about A3? I brought A3 paper along and people asked me straight away what I am up to. It is not common to have bigger size paper than A4 on the table. You can do that next time or even better hand over the markers to a person in the meeting who is inspired and wants to participate.

Bottom line, for me A4 paper is the golden middle way . Every office seems to have unending resources of A4 paper – you can steal as much as you want from the printer next to you – At least until facility management catch you.

Have a look at my last vivid stream of thoughts, created during an agile training with Martin Kearns in Melbourne.