“In 48 hours I went from I cannot draw to actually - I can” Sylvain Mahe

An Interview with Sylvain Mahe, Enterprise Agile Coach at Palo IT.

Singapore.Sylvain was very happy to talk to All Lined Up about how Bikablo has transformed the way he works and the positive impact it has had on his company and clients.

How has learning Bikablo changed the way you work and communicate?

I work in an agile team which is a group of coaches, facilitators and trainers. Most of us, if not all of us, used slides as a standard way of working. Even though we had a lot of experiential activities in our trainings our presentations were slide based.

The agile community during conferences and events had people doing live graphic recording of sessions. So many of us had been exposed to this but very few of us were using visualization at work.

For me personally, I had a strong belief that I couldn’t draw and as I kid I hated drawing classes convinced that it was not for me. Though I loved seeing sketch notes and live recording but the idea that I could do this never crossed my mind.

So, when a colleague told me about the Bikablo technique a few years ago I was interested and registered immediately. What struck me was that after the training in 48 hours I went from I cannot draw to actually I can.

The next step for me was that I started experimenting as the following week I had a big workshop. I put together a few posters instead of slides, just flipcharts with titles and a nice frame. It was really as simple as that and still people were wowed and suddenly I was considered to be an artist. I found that the people I was training were more engaged, had more fun and were more interactive.

Moving from using slides to presenting with flip charts changed the equation and my status as a facilitator went from here to here (he gestured with his hand in front of his chest to above his head). When you can draw, people are curious to know how you do that and that breaks down barriers. You have immediate credibility and status with people even if they don’t know you or anything about you.


Why did you recommend the Bikablo technique to your colleagues and company?

I recommended Bikablo to my colleagues and a few critical people did the training. We realised that to fully unleash the power of visual facilitation in an organisation you need a critical mass of trained people.

Bikablo created a common language in our organization and within 6 months not 20%, not 40%, not 60% but 100% of our trainings were without slides, replaced by posters that we can reuse.

Another benefit I see is that it is non-linear and that as a coach allows me to dance in the moment. I may have 50 posters with me and I know I will never use all of them, but it gives me more freedom as I just pull what I need and let things emerge.

Where else have you used Bikablo?

I’ve used Bikablo in client meetings and sales pitches where I talk and draw at the same time. Where previously I used the whiteboard now I can capture what is being said more effectively since I have a larger visual vocabulary.  

How has Bikablo changed the way you prepare your trainings?

A lot of time and energy while using PowerPoint is spent on finding the right font, alignment etc. rather than on the content. In terms of speed it is faster to develop a new training or workshop using posters as you focus on the content and the flow.

What have you learned as you facilitated using Bikablo?

I started by drawing everything live and I enjoyed it a lot and left the posters with the clients. The clients put the posters on the walls and in team spaces, this was very empowering. Doing everything live was tiring and the quality of the posters was not as good as I would want. So now what works for me is to draw 20-30 % live and the rest I bring pre-drawn posters which I enhance with mobile elements. I found that if all your posters are pre-drawn then it becomes static and it’s like having a slide deck.


What strategy did you use to achieve this ease of visual expression?

I bought all the Bikablo books and icons which helped in increasing my visual vocabulary.

In the beginning I practiced 15 minutes every day on a flip chart stand. My mantra was practice, practice, practice. I practiced at home and at every opportunity I used it with colleagues and clients. As I had a lot of fear of drawing in the past it was important to keep drawing through the fear until it became second nature and there was no more fear.

What advice would you give to our readers?

Mastering Visual facilitation is a key differentiator, between those who know how to do it and those who don’t. It’s more than just “drawing” and conveying messages visually, it’s a new way to design and deliver superior experiences to your clients.

It was a game changer for me and I don’t think I know someone for whom using the Bikablo technique hasn’t made a profound impact. It’s probably the best return of investment you can dream of in a 2 day workshop. And best of all it’s fun.

Written by

Jaya Machet

Jaya Machet is an Executive coach, Visual & Business Story Powered Communication Facilitator. She helps humanise the workplace through meaningful communication.