Today’s countdown to Christmas article as part of my Advent series focuses on the use of images and graphic facilitation for internal communication.

It was written by Ashley Freeman and was first published in June this year…

Using graphic facilitation to break down barriers to internal communication

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Is that the case for internal communication?

rachelmillerWith the rise of visual communication increasing at a dizzying pace, and the use of images proliferating content, there’s never been a better time to take a fresh look at the options available.

Here Ashley Freeman, Head of Sales and Marketing at employee engagement company INVOLVE @involve_UK, writes for my blog to share the trends they’re seeing, particularly with graphic facilitation.

To give you an example, the image of me on this page was drawn by Creative Connection when I spoke at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations Inside group’s annual IC conference in 2012. They were capturing the day visually as people spoke.

Over to you Ashley…

What is the greatest barrier to internal communication in your organisation?

“I hear. I forget.  

I see. I remember.

I do and I understand.”

Confucius

Traditional avenues of communication have become out-dated, irrelevant or redundant as the world of business changes, and we look for more engaging and effective ways to communicate strategy and our company values.

 “Communicators need to face the reality of how employees’ experience their day-to-day working lives and ensure engagement, clear line-of-sight, streamlined processes, and a healthy, progressive business.” – Melcrum <Tweet this>

graphic facilitationWhether you are trying to communicate marketing strategy, pitching a new idea or presenting a finished project, the way you communicate the key information impacts greatly on how well your team understands it.

It doesn’t stop with understanding, either.

It is important that your team digest and engage with the ideas and values you are communicating.

Universal involvement is the goal, and it’s important to make sure ALL of your employees are on board.

In the diverse melting pot of your workforce, every team member is different in the way they engage with information. This can invite several complex barriers to internal communication.

A look at graphic facilitation

Two thirds of us are visual learners.

The powerful thing about graphic facilitation (we call it visual involvement) is that it helps to distil and communicate complex and dry content in a way that’s much easier for people to understand. It uses stimulating illustrations and visuals to convert conversations into compelling stories, vastly improving retention and reflection.

“Our people strategy is a lengthy, detailed document but involve distilled it into an easily understood illustration with which we have effectively engaged our stakeholders” – Drew McMillan, Group Head of Internal Communication & Culture, Ladbrokes

BandQWe’ve recently helped leading brands such as Ladbrokes, B&Q, GSK, Oakley and Vodafone to communicate their vision and strategies through engaging visuals.

Some were presented live, in front of an audience, while others were created in advance of a meeting or event.

What happens to the drawings?

Have you ever wondered what happens to the material once it has been presented to an audience?

Once they have served their initial purpose, the visuals we create can then be printed and showcased in key areas as a reminder of the content, sent out to managers to assist with cascading key messages, digitised and hosted on an intranet or transformed into a live animation. (Great to hear people are doing that – I always wonder what happens to the huge visuals after conferences! – Rachel).

To give you an idea of what we mean by animation, check out this video:

Language and culture

The way we do business has changed. We are part of a global economy that pays no attention to borders, language or cultural differences.  The hire pool has grown and we are increasingly seeking valuable skills from all over the world.

Offices and workspaces are becoming increasingly multicultural and diverse.

Language is therefore no longer the most effective way to get across key strategic information.

So, we have to change the way we communicate.

Since the dawn of the human race as we know it, people have been using graphic facilitation to communicate. Cavemen recorded pertinent information for their tribe’s history in their cave paintings, such as landscape and key details about the weather, hunting and animals. <Tweet this>

It is a communication strategy that predates the birth of language or culture, so why not use it to overcome these barriers?

Graphic facilitation is a clear and engaging way of communicating your internal communications strategy that transcends cultural and language barriers.

Are you having trouble communicating your values and business strategy? Have a go at drawing it!

Post author: Ashley Freeman.

Thanks Ashley. Are you using graphic facilitation in your company for internal communication? I’d love to hear of more examples. If you would like to share what you’re doing in your organisation, please see my guest article guidelines and get in touch.

Picture credits: INVOLVE.

Further reading on my blog
How to write an internal communication strategy
Glossary of internal communication
Rachel’s Resources – a collation of people to follow, books to read, presentations and resources.
See all my posts tagged internal communication

First published on All Things IC June 2014 and republished December 2014.

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