"OK, so, there are going to be twelve breakout groups meeting over the next hour. We want you to record everything they say in their breakouts, so that as soon as they come back, they can see what everyone else said. Sound good?"
The conditions we need to do our work that seem obvious to us can be a revelation to our clients. "No, I can't be in twelve places at once and record everything that I hear in less than an hour." I'm often frustrated by my own inability to explain what I need to be effective. And more often, I'm frustrated by my inability to explain the value of open conversation, or time to quietly reflect and synthesize, or even do the basics of framing the day. "What are we going to GET out of it?" is a question that's hard for me to answer because to me, the reasons are intuitive and obvious.
I'm becoming convinced that visual practitioners have to develop language to talk about the finer points of our work to those clients who don't live in this world.
The good news is that we can learn a lot from wedding cake bakers.
PS: (I've gotten some constructive feedback that I open stories without closing them. Thanks for that!) When the client requested that I record across twelve breakout groups in an hour, I said, "Well, the only way for me to do that would be to run from group to group and capture snippets that I happen to hear while I'm there, and turn those snippets into a word cloud. Is that what you're looking for?" Nope, they didn't want that. "In that case, let me suggest that each group choose a scribe. They can record a list of their key takeaways on a flipchart. We can post all the flipcharts together, so that everyone can see what the other groups talked about. Will that work?" Yes, they liked that idea, and wanted to know if I could provide materials. "Yep, I've got some extra flipchart paper that they can just stick to the wall. ...umm, no, let's not have them use Expo markers... these are called Charters and they're welcome to use them... no, you can't have those, those are my Neulands and I need them to do my job..."