We are passionate about developing new ways to increase engagement and deepen understanding among people. One way we do this in the tradeshow and conference space is to invite participants to co-create visual story walls that capture individual and insights. Interactive story walls provide space and a mechanism for participants to shift from passive recipients of content to active creators.
The setup is simple:
- Step 1: Provide a prompt in the form of a well thought out question; then invite participants to respond
- Step 2: Provide a large blank canvas to record responses
- Step 3: Use a scribe/graphic facilitator to bring the responses to life visually
Let me provide a few examples of how visual, interactive story walls can generate engagement around experience, vision, and personalized content.
Engaging Around Experience
I recently partnered with a client exhibiting at a tradeshow for event planners. As part of the booth we installed a 4-foot by 8-foot blank white wall and posed the question:
“What is the coolest thing you have seen happening in the meeting and event space?”
We invited event participants to share their answers with me, the graphic facilitator, via sticky notes. The activity drew passersby into the booth and gave them reason to return later to see their response brought to life visually through hand drawn imagery on the wall. Participants were delighted by seeing their own responses to the question of what is working well in the event space (e.g., offering signature drinks, hula dancing, bowling), but they also had the opportunity to learn from seeing their peers’ responses. Enthusiasm and curiosity regarding the final visual prompted participants to share their contact information with our client in order for her to circulate the final image at the close of the tradeshow.
Engaging Around Vision
At another conference focused on Women in Business, our client wanted to solicit input from participants on an existing initiative focused on educating women of the future. I worked with the client in advance of the conference to map out a series of walls that would provide space for creation of an interactive experience. Our walls featured pre-drawn images framing the journey and accomplishments thus far. The prompting questions focused on gaining insight from the participants on future opportunities. At the event itself, two scribes took responses from the participants and integrated new visuals into the existing pre-drawn framework to show how the initiative might evolve going forward.
Engaging Around Personalizing Content
At an internal event hosted by a university for a segment of their employees, the participants listened to a talk related to Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle model. Sinek posits that an organization’s “why”, the belief system animating the organization, has a greater impact on their success than how or what they do.
[Scribed Story Wall synthesizing individual responses to What is your “why?” prompt.]
Immediately following this presentation, we used the interactive story wall to encourage active participant reflection. We helped create a sense of ownership over the material by inviting attendees to share the “why” behind their own work. Their personal connection to the material was immediately evident. And once the responses had been visually captured on the wall, it conveyed a powerful, emotional story of collective purpose. The university ended up displaying the wall in a prominent place as a reminder of their unified vision.
Interactive story walls can be deployed in a range of settings to engage participants and achieve multiple objectives. Their form is flexible. You can use a single prompt or ask a series of questions. You can provide a completely blank canvas or provide initial framing. Responses may be written on post-it notes or given more structure by offering-up a template.
Which factor is most essential? The human element. When their response is included, participants share in the experience of watching the scribe bring their ideas to life in front of them. Scribes employ their unique skillset to make people feel heard by providing visuals that capture the essence of each idea being shared. This type of live, organic experience generates energy and enthusiasm around participation and helps animate the event as a whole.
[Top of page: Scribed Story Wall synthesizing individual responses to How do you advocate for agriculture? prompt; Above: Scribed Story Wall synthesizing individual responses to What is your ultimate purpose? ]