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How many words does a picture prompt?

I’ve seen this technique used recently a few times to stimulate participants’ thinking on the topic of the day. The facilitator shows an interesting picture – on a screen – and asks the audience to express their thoughts on what the image represents. One asked how the beach scene they had chosen connected with what they and their clients care about. 

The debrief discussion usually reveals all sorts of good ideas. For example, a picture of the Statue of Liberty, shrouded partly in fog, prompted responses of freedom, of movement, of local traders’ dependence on each other. Someone else said it reminded them of the importance of a strong brand.  

It was particularly effective when the facilitator added one or two kickers to supplement what had been said. In this case, with a group from a humanitarian organisation, we were reminded (or informed) that this Liberty is an immigrant, a migrant worker, a woman – and that despite her poverty and vulnerability, she was welcomed according to the poem inscribed in the base, with its invitation to ‘bring your huddled masses’.

That set several strands running for the subsequent workshop. What image of an icon could produce this richness for you and your topic?

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