Do you ever find yourself stuck in a meeting that’s stalling? Does the agenda seem to accomplish no tangible outcomes? Perhaps you find yourself wondering what’s next after an important summit, or frustrated with the lack of direction after a meaningful brainstorm or discussion.

What if we told you that you can literally draw your way to a more constructive meeting?

As graphic recorders and facilitators at ImageThink, we listen for your big ideas, and synthesize them into easily readable graphics in real time. The result? A sort of visual storyboard that diagrams your conversations, brainstorms, and strategy sessions. We’ve logged tens of thousands of hours working with clients in their meetings so they can get more actionable insights from their session. Read on to learn a few techniques we use to guarantee efficiency and action.

A mind map starts with a central idea and its supporting content,
and then breaks off further into supporting ideas and connections.

Weather the brainstorm with visual mapping

Studies show that we’re far more likely to remember images than text.

What are the implications of this? To start, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. Though cliché, it’s true: pictures do speak louder than words. They also help us think. We’re wired to remember and learn information visually.

This is the backbone of graphic facilitation’s effectiveness.  Chances are, you’re already using elements of graphic facilitation in your strategy sessions.  If you’ve ever tried whiteboarding or diagramming, then you’ve taken your first steps.  As graphic facilitators, we take it to the next level by using visuals to harness and reinforce the right information in a way that you and your team can remember.

Harnessing this visual power makes visual mapping a fertile ground from which innovative insights can grow.

So what does it look like?

Imagine a real time diagram of your big ideas.  We start with your topic, front and center on a board at the front of the room.  As your team’s brainstorm unfolds, we populate the board with key points as they emerge, connecting them and building on them as the conversation continues. As meeting participants see the brainstorm come to life, it ignites further thoughts, pushes boundaries, invites more thought-provoking, deeper thinking.  Your conversation gains structure even as it moves forward.

We call it a mind map. It’s a simple, yet extremely effective way to break down what could otherwise be a convoluted, complicated brainstorm into a digestible flow of ideas.

Even better, you’re left with a visual tool that enables prioritization and action. By voting directly on the board, participants can see where they align, where they are ready to move into an action phase.

Empower Insights: Stop, Start, Continue

But what if you’re not starting from scratch? If you’re looking to brainstorm around an initiative that’s already been pushed forward, even ended, pausing to reflect on what worked and what didn’t, then your approach is different.

If you’re looking to construct meaningful dialogue and reflect on what worked, what didn’t work, and what you could do differently, the diagram is simple.

We like to use a template we call ‘stop, start, continue’: this helps take stock of what is and what isn’t working.

As your team brainstorms and reflects, the graphic facilitator filters and captures the journey a strategy has been on, and what’s next for it.

Perhaps you’re discussing a recent roll out of a new technology system that’s been finalized and implemented. You’ve gathered your employees’ feedback and heard their voices. You discuss what you’d stop doing, what you’d do differently in the future, and what you’d keep doing, and the graphic facilitator listens and captures.

The journey of the initiative is mapped back to the larger diagram. Stay more grounded and leveled by being able to see both the positives and the negatives. By viewing the journey of an idea, it leaves it open for better, more constructive feedback, and thus, you collect better insights.

A mind map starts with a central idea and its supporting content,
and then breaks off further into supporting ideas and connections.

Map your goals: Visualize Your Priorities

Gathering insight is useless, however, if you don’t set it into action. Your brainstorms have yielded valuable, real insights that are ready to become real initiatives. How to you make sure they don’t disappear into obscurity, or get lost in the following weeks? How do you facilitate change?

Not to fret, if you’re working with a graphic facilitator. They understand your needs and are ready to ignite meeting attendees into action. Be sure to set aside some time to prioritize and go through next steps.

Here, we like to use a diagram where we map goals and objectives onto an XY axis. For example, if you’re looking to prioritize your goals, offset their priority on a timeline. Play around with the axes to vet your best outcome. The graphic facilitator will draw these and map them on your diagram so you can clearly see a timeline and a priority. They can also assign owners and deadlines to these items so you’re sure to follow up with the right change makers.

Putting a name and a date next to a next step creates accountability, which is critical for change.

The Results: Make The Most of Your Meeting

The outcome of using these visual diagrams? Focus, alignment, efficiency, and accountability. Your once directionless meeting is ignited into action, moving forward with immediate results. Using visual diagramming provides structure to your discussion and allows you to innovate with your best foot forward. The graphic facilitator takes the notes, structures them, and gives you a polished reflection of your discussion so you don’t have to.

When ideas surface and crystallize in the way that ImageThink and graphic facilitators allow, they become currency. Big ideas lead to innovation, and innovation leads to new ways of working – and vastly better business results, revenues, and brand reputations. Strategy can make or break your business, so innovating is critical. With our help, you’ll break conventions and break through complex challenges. You’ll brainstorm fresh possibilities, picture them visually and prioritize next steps. You’ll ignite your creative genius and unleash innovation. Meet your goals, solve your biggest business problems, ignite audiences, and thrive.

By Greta Hayes

 About the author

Greta Hayes is a trusted graphic recorder/graphic facilitator to clients in the consulting, pharmaceutical/healthcare, event management, and technology sectors. She brings a background in art, architecture, and music to the ImageThink team, and these visual and performance skills allow her to think quickly and creatively on her feet as a graphic recorder. Her architectural illustrations have awarded her two grant-funded stays in Europe to travel and draw, and she’s been a lifelong artist and musician, playing the cello since the age of 4 and performing in the US, UK, and France.

At ImageThink, our team of graphic recorders and graphic facilitators works with more than 30% of the Fortune 50 companies to make their meetings even better, even more efficient, and even more actionable. Interested to learn more? Get in touch at or check out more visual diagramming exercises in our book Draw Your Big Idea, our new book and latest Amazon best-seller in creativity and psychology.