How to Go About Getting into Visual Facilitation

Categories art, artrage, creativity, visual facilitation
An ArtRage forum member sent me a message asking me how she could get into doing visual facilitation for a living. I figure my answer to her might be worth sharing. And maybe we can have some dialogue about my thoughts that might open it up and make it a bigger topic for us all.

Here’s the main part of my letter to her (with pleasantries removed)…


Good to hear that there’s another person interested in doing this! It’s an absolutely awesome rush to do!

Okay… Fundamentals…

1. Are you well-read, well-versed in non-fiction, specifically business stuff, psychology, marketing? You’ll need to pump up your knowledge in these fields.

2. Are you able to concentrate fiercely well for long stretches, listening ardently to new information, synthesising patterns from it, picking out fascinating details pertinent to the greater whole?

3. Can you multi-task? REALLY multi-task? When you’re doing a visual facilitation, you’re doing lots of things at once. I’ve described it to someone as ‘flying a helicopter while holding two simultaneous, in-depth conversations’. I think I might revise that description and add a second helicopter to the mix.

4. How do you prefer to work — traditional media or digital? This is a far-reaching fundamental choice. Sounds from your skill-set that you’re digitally comfortable.

You haven’t mentioned whether you use a tablet pc (or Wacom Cintiq), or if you’re using a Wacom tablet?

Tablet PC is my preferred route. There are currently three machines in South Africa that I can recommend… Toshiba Portege M700, Asus R1E, Fujitsu T5010.

Portability of your setup is of paramount importance. Heading out to some remote conference centre should not induce muscle strain or back pain.

Working on traditional media limits what you can offer to your client. Most of the visual facilitators around the world use traditional media. I so so so don’t recommend it. No edge. No instant distribution. However, if you MUST do it that way, go for it.

5. Are you willing to expose yourself to a roomful of people by making art live, before their very eyes?

I assure you, you are totally naked when your stuff is appearing live, in real time, on a huge screen next to the speaker’s screen. They’re watching your every move.

If you have ANY fear of public humiliation, you’re going to find visual facilitation pretty hardcore.

If you’re comfortable to do some really nice work on the odd occasion, with mostly clodhopper ATTEMPTS at brilliance most of the time, with people watching you frown as you hit the eraser button on ArtRage, then you’ll thrive. It helps if you’re an exhibitionistic showoff with immense amounts of self-confidence.

6. Are you happy to spend a lot of time doing free gigs for high profile audiences in order to establish a name for yourself? Do you have the chutzpah to inveigle yourself into events as ‘the visual facilitator’, even though you weren’t invited, they’ve never heard of you, and you don’t wanna pay the entrance fee? Do you have the ability to earn an income elsewhere to allow you to take a year to build this up into a business? Are you willing to learn and adapt what you’re offering based on the gigs you do?

7. Do you have a winning, magnetic, persuasive personality?

8. Do you have the ability to look someone in the eye and say without shame or embarrassment or hesitation, ‘I charge R12 500 per day for what I do.’? If you’re blushing at the thought, convert that blush into a warm, fuzzy, delicious feeling of anticipated joy and liberation.

9. Are you comfortable with technology as a means of disseminating information about yourself? I use Twitter as my main communication tool in the world. I’ve been a blogger for about 6 years. I’ve had a website since the internet came to South Africa. I use Flickr as my primary portfolio tool. And so on.

Regarding the actual ‘How’ of your question, I recommend just sitting in on some event or other, and pushing yourself into doing a live visual facilitation without screening your work or standing out from the crowd in any way. Just draw what you hear. Get a feeling for how much work you need to do to be on top of things. Do more of these.


Do you have anything to add? Disagree with anything? Can you enhance anything?

I’m a visual facilitator. You can see some of my work online at And my profile as a professional member of the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa is at