Graphic Recording of Climate Change Roundtable
On Friday 4th June the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), Germanwatch and the China Civil Climate Action Network (CCAN) organized a Europe-China Climate Change Roundtable at the UN Campus during the week of climate talks in Bonn. SCIENTIA was invited to support the preparation of the workshop and to graphically facilitate the meeting.
1. Planning the event
During the first meeting of the organizing team, we found out everything that would be necessary for us to know in order to facilitate the event. So our meeting started with a bunch of questions:
- What is the purpose of the meeting?
- Who are the participants (experts, UNFCCC delegates, civil society)?
- How many people do we expect?
- Will they be present throughout the whole meeting or will they be absent at intervals?
- What expectations will participants have when coming to the meeting?
- When do the organizers/participants consider the meeting a success?
- What do the organizers want participants to take away from the meeting?
- What are the principles of the meeting (e.g. participatory/engaging/…)?
- Which elements should be integrated in a visual that helps to facilitate dialogue during the meeting? Which parts of the agenda need a visual summary on the template?
- Can we think of useful and powerful metaphors that can be integrated into the picture?
- What could be potential challenges when trying to facilitate dialogue among participants?
- Will participants feel comfortable to take a pen or sticky notes and contribute to the “bigger picture”?
2. Drawing a Story Board
- After the meeting Isabel sat down and made a story board to visualize the individual steps during the meeting.
- The story board served as a basis for the following discussion of the organizing team. They reported it was extremely helpful to see which issues and questions still needed to be addressed in the planning process.
3. Preparing a visual template
- Before the actual meeting we prepared a large graphic template (made up of three big sheets of paper) of 4,20 m length
- In order to do so we did a brainstorming on which possible metaphors we could to represent the “journey” that participants would take with during the meeting. Since we were dealing with climate change topics, we decided to go for something related to nature and agriculture.
4. Graphic Recording during the meeting
- This would be our first experience of graphic recording. So far we had already been doing graphic facilitation, e.g. using templates prepared in advanced that were then filled with sticky notes from the participants or us. This time, however, we wanted to capture the essence of the key note presentations from experts and delegates in real time on the template.
- Before going to the meeting we did some research for icons that could be useful for topics such as extreme events (floods, storms), desertification, deforestation, food, water, energy, vulnerability, etc
- The Recording: During the meeting Isabel and I took turns recording. While I was taking notes of the first keynote on a small piece of paper, I could use the time of the second keynote to do the drawing on the big template while Isabel was listening to the second keynote, which she would record on the big template afterwards. Taking turns proved extremely useful to us, because it gave each of us some more time for each keynote.
- What else was helpful? The participants were! They were very active making notes from the keynote presentations on sticky notes and bringing them to us to the template.
- While we already had a rough concept in mind after each talk, making notes on small piece of paper, the sticky notes from participants complemented our notes and made sure we recorded everything that was important to THEM.
5. Lessons Learned
- While being quite nervous before the meeting, the positive feedback from participants as well as the organizers made us feel quite happy with the results of this experiment. But why did it work so well? We pondered together and came up with these success factors:
- Useful icons related to climate change already existed. These icons served as a “critical mass” that made it easier for us to develop new ones.
- When doing recording over several hours you start to think in images and metaphors, making the work a lot easier.
- When you are not an expert in the field you are trying to recording, you realize pretty soon that it is not possible for you to capture all details and that is okay to simplify things. This is not a deficit, but rather an added value.
- It really helps to have no other duties during the meeting than to record. If you are not also busy with logistics and housekeeping, you can really concentrate on what you are doing.
- It is of great value if the host/organizers of the meeting fully support the use of graphic facilitation and point to the picture repeatedly during the meeting, inviting the participants to contribute to it and actively engage. They even started using the metaphors in our template to describe the process of the meeting and thereby explained the purpose of the template very well. Very early in the meeting we got a feeling that everybody fully understand (and appreciated) this colorful landscape in the back of the room.
- Since participants brought us their notes on sticky notes and thus “fed” the template, we could relax a bit more, not having to be afraid that we would miss any important points.
- Participants even started drawing icons instead of using text on their post-its, which gave us confidence that we are doing the right thing and that the participants found the visuals helpful.
-Right after the meeting we spend another 1,5 hours doing the “polishing”, i.e. colouring, translating some sticky notes that were left in to visuals, etc. Doing it right after the event was good idea, because the memory was still fresh.
Our upcoming workshops will be more in the field of e-learning. So now that we realized how helpful it was to have some icons related to the topic before the recording, we will try to find some icons for the field of e-learning. If you have any advice on where to find some, we would really appreciate it.
You can find more pictures here on flickr
Maike Schansker (Schansker[at]vie.unu.edu)