Object of Play
In a typical meeting, people walk in and are handed a typed sheet of paper that shows them the meeting agenda. It usually includes the date, the meeting topics, and the time allotted for each topic. Sometimes it acknowledges who is presenting or leading the topic. Most participants give this piece of paper about two seconds of their time. The standard approach for making agendas is perfectly fine for quick meetings among people who work together regularly. But for meetings that matter, for meetings that take a good amount of people’s time and attention, and for meetings that bring together people from across disciplines or departments, visual agendas work much better.
When you create a visual agenda, people look it over and linger on it longer. They actually read the desired outcomes and review the steps they’ll take to get there. The energy level rises when participants walk into a room and see a large, colorful, hand-drawn display. People start to talk about it with each other. A visual agenda implies that the day might be interesting; it sends a signal to the group that the meeting matters. Visuals also help participants recall later what the meeting was about.
How to Play
1. Establish a desired outcome(s) for the meeting and craft an agenda that will get the group there. Choose a visual framework that represents the tone or theme of the meeting.
2. Draw the agenda in a nontraditional and creative way on a large sheet of paper or display it using presentation software.
A visual agenda is a gesture to the group that you spent time before you took up theirs. So, take the time to build a good road map to your outcomes. And when drawing or creating the visual agenda, think of metaphors that represent a theme of the meeting. Draw pictures that symbolize the company’s mission or work. If you’re working at a vacation rental company, draw a beach scene with each footstep as a stage of the agenda. Draw a forest scene if you’re working at an environmental organization; a circuit board if you’re with a tech firm.
Brand the agenda in creative ways. If you’ve got copywriting chops, think of interesting phrases to describe each stage of the meeting. And if you have neither copywriter nor artistic instincts, ask someone who plans to attend the meeting to help you. Creating a visual agenda is a small investment in a meeting, but it offers a good ROI.
The Visual Agenda game was inspired by The Grove’s practice of creating visual agendas before meetings.