To Connect, Create & Transform Your Meetings

Innovation Minds sits down with Susannah Childers, Founder and Chief Possibility Officer at Ah Ha! In this article, discover how to use the power of visual facilitation to transform your meetings.

Dreading your next team meeting? You’re not alone! 46% of employed Americans would choose an unpleasant activity such as a trip to the DMV, watching paint dry or a root canal over attending another team update meeting.

Ah Ha! shifts that paradigm through the use of visuals to engage meeting participants.

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Seeing is Believing: A Picture is Worth 60,000 Words!

Let’s look at a few convincing data points:    

  1. According to the Harris poll, visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.    
  2. Infographics are liked and shared in social media 3X more than any other content.
  3. Visuals have been found to improve learning by up to 400%

Uber discovered the psychology of visuals with estimated arrival time and gamification built into their app to help with the leading pain point of their customers “The Wait”. When we see our car, getting closer and closer, we’ll actually wait longer. Uxdesign-Uber Psychology

In fact, the studies have found that visuals such as the use of graphic meeting facilitation improve long-term memory, comprehension and audience engagement. Keep in mind that the use of visuals is by no means a modern invention. Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) used infographics to communicate death classifications from disease, war, wounds and other causes. (Thompson 2016).

The Team at Ah Ha! use their foundation in innovation, market research and product development combined with graphic facilitation to accelerate team innovation and meeting productivity. Susannah notes “you need not be an artist to be a graphic meeting facilitator. Ah Ha! has been using graphic templates to facilitate high performing teams for over 20 years. Now they have made these template graphics available for free, for teams and meeting organizers to use”.


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Download your Free Team Meeting Visuals from Ah Ha! Here: 

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Visual Facilitation:

  1. Helps set expectations
  2. Makes sure everyone’s voice is heard
  3. Help to visualize consumer personas
  4. Innovate and Ideate
  5. Create Action Plans
  6. Provide a visual snapshot of the meeting

“The more you know the more you see, but the converse is also true, the more you see the more you know.”

– Aldous Huxley, 1894 –1963

Susannah notes that great team meetings have a “Collaboration Mindset”. An example of that? Top companies are taking notice and have turned meetings on their head via the Flipped Meetings Format.


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What are Flipped Meetings? Those, usual, but dreaded roundtable updates are sent in advance and shared virtually by the meeting organizer, so that in person meeting time is spent on key decision making, problem solving and innovation. Amazon and LinkedIn adopted “The Flipped Meeting Format”. Amazon is taking it one-step further. Powerpoints are banned in Amazon live meeting spaces.

Both the team at Ah Ha! and Innovation Minds believe in maximizing human interactions as well as leveraging technology and virtual space for Innovation.

Innovation Minds provides a state of the art, idea and event management portal that enables team members to connect before, during and after meetings to create and build ideas. IM also hosts live innovation events with expert facilitators like the Ah Ha! Team, creating visual artifacts and outcomes of innovation sprints and design sessions.

The Death of Meetings = Talking Heads

If, as the research indicates we are less excited and engaged about auditory experiences and remember and connect dramatically more when visuals are present, why are so many meetings still dreaded more than a root canal?

Ah Ha! points to the need for increased competencies in meeting facilitation and visual collaboration.

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The Life of Meetings = Visual Collaboration

Here’s 5 Tips from Innovation Minds and Ah Ha! Ideas to Connect, Create & Transform you Meetings.

1. Begin with the End in Mind. A key question that Ah Ha! facilitators ask at the beginning of a meeting or innovation project is “What does Success Look Like”? Identifying what success looks like from the perspective of each meeting participant and posting those success factors visually, sets a course for successful meetings and projects.

2. Save the Roundtable Updates for Pre-Meeting Information.  Awesome meetings happen when your humans in the room are actually connecting and collaborating. Ask yourself what information and updates should be reserved for virtual updating.

3. Use Visual Facilitation Tools and Techniques

Consider training your entire organization on the use of and practice of visual facilitation. Equip your meeting rooms with tools for Visual Capture: Post-It Notes, Smart Boards, Sharpies (just don’t use the Sharpies on the Smart Boards!).  Visit the team at Ah Ha!  and download a free E-Book full of practical tips, activities and templates to start any project off with alignment, clarity and trust building. Or download the full set of graphic templates and you’ll be on your way to boosting your visual thinking capability.

4. Set a Culture for Collaboration and Innovation:

Here things get more complex and involve looking at various aspects of a culture of Innovation. For a Free 360 Assessment of how your culture compares with a benchmark of companies on a path of innovation. Visit Innovation Minds

5. Consider a 50-Minute Meeting. See this article in Harvard Business Review that examines increased happiness and productivity of the 50-Minute Meeting.

Remember the reduced attention span in an era of micro learning and 2 minute YouTube tutorials.


Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

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Finally in our Spotlight Series, we asked our Innovator, Susannah Childers who she would invite to a Jeffersonian Dinner? Our Former President liked stimulating conversations at dinner and this format for his dinner parties was the talk of the town.

The topic for Susannah’s Jeffersonian Dinner? Creative Collaborations. On Susannah’s Guest List would be Michelle and Barack Obama, the Wright Brothers from her home state of North Carolina, her Ah Ha! Founding Partner and a respected innovator Lynette McCormack, and her parents who instilled in this Chief Possibility Officer, the power of possibility.


About Our Innovator:

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Susannah is a leader in transforming people and organizations through facilitation, collaboration and training. Susannah and her team have facilitated team meetings and Innovation Sprints for the Fortune 500, Government and Non-Profit Organizations.

About the Author:

Rosemary Rein is an Author and Speaker on Leadership and Innovation and serves on the Global Advisory Board of Innovation Minds, offering a holistic solution to join the online and real world with intuitive crowdsourcing platform and live events to engage employees, partners and customers.