“Let’s have a visual storyboarder capture our team meeting.” Sounds like a great idea, right? Wrong. Some folks will get up in arms about making the investment. Curious how to respond?

Planning big events often starts with requests and proposals. Committees review proposals to make smart decisions. They grapple with important questions such as: Should we hire an external facilitator? Should we bring in a graphic facilitator? Should we encourage interactive discussion and visual storytelling? Should we just do what we’ve always done?

Recently, we were asked to provide a visual storyboarding proposal for a multi-day technical conference. The top decision makers felt this communication method had merit and they’d used it before in a very successful conference.

Still, they needed to pitch the idea to the conference committee. As it turned out, the committee was reluctant and fearful. They dragged their feet about making a change.

Here are the top four objections—and my hunch is you may recognize these from your organization.

1. This is culturally different.
Yes. It sounds as if creative depiction has not been part of previous meetings or department events. But here’s the truth: this difference is good and valuable.

Visual storyboarding is the practice of capturing discussion, reports, expert presentations, impromptu Q & A, and poster sessions. It fosters cultural values of open communication, non-silo discussion, and active sharing of ideas.

2. Isn’t this a potential distraction?
Different, yes. Distracting, no. From hundreds of meetings, we've consistently had people tell us that watching the colorful charts emerge is highly engaging. Unlike a boring flow of look-alike bullet-point slides, charts put a fresh spin on information.

Participants repeatedly tell us that live visual capturing increased focus, encouraged discussion, supported reflection and stimulated informal conversation after presentations.

3. Unclear on value for money.
(Remember the traditional phrase of ‘a penny wise and a pound foolish?’)

Besides the energetic infusion of ideas and vitality in the event, there are valuable outputs. This ranges from digital copies of charts, storybooks, posters and custom storytelling tools. Whatever the organization chooses for ‘outputs’ promotes discussion and keeps ideas alive back in the regions.

Active communication with teams is the very reason for investing in a live event. Costs of visual storyboarding are nominal relative to other costs of travel, facilities, food and events.

Ultimately, the merit and value of holding a live event is the momentum it produces afterwards. Consistently, the charts enable managers and participants to spread the story, and keep ideas moving forwards.

4. Expectations.
(Does this set an expectation that we will always use graphic facilitation in all our meetings?)

Not really. No expectation is set for the future. Much like traveling down a new road, you must determine if this is the best road for each event.

How will you know what’s right? Based on merit, feedback, evaluations and collective response, you’ll have an immediate sense of the value and merit. Then, you can make a choice to include visual storytelling or not for future events.

Rather than carving a path in stone, you will base your choice on real experience.

Are you considering having graphic facilitation as part of your conference of event? If so, anticipate these kinds of responses from people who are unfamiliar with the methodology or fearful of change.

One of the best ways to reduce the fear of change and fear of new methods is to offer a hands-on experience. We often provide graphic facilitation ‘taster’ sessions to increase familiarity with the methodology. After a short session, participants quickly move positions.

Participation and personal experience is like a bridge. What happens when people cross this secret bridge? They move out of being stuck in fear. The choice becomes clear. Visual storyboarding moves from ‘unknown and scary’ to being recognized as ‘known and fantastic.’

Author's Bio: 

Milly Sonneman is a recognized expert in visual language. She is the co-director of Presentation Storyboarding, a leading presentation training firm, and author of the popular guides: Beyond Words and Rainmaker Stories available on Amazon. Milly helps business professionals give winning presentations, through Email Marketing skills trainings at Presentation Storyboarding. You can find out more about our courses or contact Milly through our website at: http://www.presentationstoryboarding.com/