The Essential Eight

The Essential Eight

by Brandy Agerbeck,

Excerpted from
The Graphic Facilitator's Guide: How to use your listening, thinking and drawing skills to make meaning
pages 171-174

Copyright © 2012 Brandy Agerbeck, All rights reserved. 

When we first discuss the skills of graphic facilitation, we describe this role as being equal parts listening, thinking and drawing:

Now we’ll break down the components of drawing in a way that will keep you in balance. Do not fall into the drawing trap:

It is understandable that drawing is the most intimidating part of this work. I am your guide, and yes, I do come from a drawing background. I can tell you that the vast majority of graphic facilitators come from the people side, not the drawing side. In fact, I see many practitioners from art, design and illustration let the drawing take over. They get caught up in the product over the process. They need to unlearn their drawing skills, because their current skills aren’t Quick Like a Bunny, or they lose sight of Content is King.

Let’s break down drawings into these components: The Essential Eight.

This is drawing within the context of graphic facilitation:
Perfectly legible
Drawn fast!
Make separate points clear
Color & symbol coding
Bright & inviting
Used to organize
Connect & contain ideas
Delineate with thick & thin lines
Guide attention
Create flow & movement
Bring life to work
Express emotion
Highlight & sets apart
Group a set of ideas together
Lift items off the page
Add dimension

The Essential Eight are sequential. Each element builds on the next. I want you to master lettering before you move onto bullets. This may sound simplistic, boring or didactic.

It works.

I have had fast-paced projects where all I was doing was using lettering, color and line. I served my client very well without any real iconography. I have seen beginners stall in a meeting, making drop shadow on block letters, and lose the conversation. I have seen folks who are fantastic illustrators with lousy handwriting.

If you are looking for a way to practice, start early in The Essential Eight. Build from up from there. If your brain short circuits in the middle of a meeting, go back to square one, to ground yourself and get back on track.

Watch one of Brandy's earliest YouTube videos, introducing The Essential Eight:

You can read all about the Essential Eight in Brandy's 2012 book, The Graphic Facilitator's Guide: How to use your listening, thinking and drawing skills to make meaning.

You can also meet The Essential Eight in Brandy's online course:

Visual thinking pioneer Brandy Agerbeck writes, speaks and teaches on the power of drawing as your best thinking tool. She's got plenty of resources for every type, stripe, and experience level of visual thinker at

For a custom speech or learning experience for your team, organization or event, contact Brandy.


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