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Feb 10, 2022

Visual Storytelling

The power of templates for visual storytelling

Who likes to fill out a form…, or to think ‘inside a box’?

Most people will say they don’t like it.

However, in a challenging facilitation process or conversation, clear guiderails can play a very powerful role. And that’s exactly what a template can provide.

 

What is a template?

It’s a tool, a visual representation to support a process or a conversation.

 

To be clear: they are not there to replace the skills of the facilitator or to take over the thinking process of the participants. Consider it as a guide to help people explore their own ideas. When we use templates, everyone’s contributions are gathered, no matter their role, and even the shyest person can contribute their ideas.

 

How to use templates

In the book The World of Visual Facilitation (which is by the way a must-read when you are working or entering the field of visual facilitation), Lynn Carruthers gives us interesting tips on how to use and design templates:

 

  1. Design your workshop or meeting first – then think about templates.
  2. Ask yourself the following questions: 
    • Will the template enable a better conversation about complex issues by providing a simple structure?
    • Will the template help the group achieve its outcomes or reach a consensus?
    • Will the template allow you to complete the workshop with fewer facilitators?
  3. Make sure the design of the template is clear:
    • Space each question and task – some might be bigger or highlighted, some may need a hard-line, others a dotted line to indicate a flexible boundaryless space. Be mindful of the space you provide.
    • Indicate the flow of the template: where should they start and what are the next steps? You can do this with numbers, arrows, etc…
    • Make sure that the questions and instructions are simple
  4. Don’t use too many templates in a meeting or process.

 

These tips are (as mentioned above) based on the chapter The Joy of Templates, in the book The World of Visual Facilitation.

 

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