Different Visual Languages of Graphic Recording: Aligning to Your Organization

Posted by on Jan 3, 2018 in blog, Graphic Facilitation, graphic facilitator, graphic recorder, Graphic Recording, scribing, visual facilitation, Visuals

Every graphic recorder has a different style – some of us are highly visual, integrating lots of characters and images. Others are more text-based, utilizing structured bullet points, boxes, and fonts. And of course there is a spectrum of visual styles in between. Likewise, every organization has a different “language” when it comes to articulating ideas, representing themselves, or understanding a concept. A financial investment firm talks about concepts and ideas differently compared to a community arts non-profit. It’s crucial that an organization finds the right match when sourcing a graphic recorder or graphic facilitator for an upcoming meeting. There are many aspects to consider, such as professionalism, style of facilitation, previous experience, to name just a few. But you might also consider the visual language of the graphic recorder. Identifying the Ideal Visual Language We’ve found our clients are served best when we take the time to understand a company’s culture of communication and align our graphic recording style to match. For example, we recently graphic recorded for Vanderbilt University at a professional roundtable for physicians across the United States. In the months leading up to the session, we asked the client a few questions to get a sense of their preferred visual style: 1. What was their previous experience with graphic recorders? What worked / didn’t work so well? 2. How do they plan to use the graphics after the event? Will they email participants the digital graphics? Or will the graphics also be used in reports, printed materials, or presentations? 3. Can you share any communication materials and/or Power Points with us so we can get a sense of your style of communication? 4. In the examples below, what style feels the best suited to your organization and how you talk about ideas or represent yourselves? (Text-based graphic recording vs. Visual graphic recording) Text-based graphic recordings  These have fewer images, and are typically more structured / organized. Images are less playful, with a few exceptions. Example of a text and bullet point graphic recording, organized under image headings. (confidential information blurred) Example of a blend of text, arrows/lines, and a few key images. Visual graphic recordings This style of graphic recording utilizes highly visual layouts, playful humour, and lots of colours. It’s effective at grabbing people’s attention at large events. Character Style We also had the client identify what style of characters they felt best suited their communication style. Below are just two examples. The client preferred a clean graphics style, figurative characters, with icons wherever possible that could be isolated for use in other materials. They also told us that previous graphic recorders had chosen metaphors or images that were cliched and unrelated to their industry, which didn’t resonate with people in the meeting. Knowing all of this ahead of time, we went in with a clear style plan for the graphics. And the response was overwhelmingly positive – participants at the conference were fully...

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Graphic Facilitation at World Cafés

Posted by on Feb 14, 2017 in blog, Graphic Facilitation, graphic facilitator, graphic recorder, Graphic Recording, visual facilitation

I’m standing at a wall of paper, my arm raised and ready to write. The conference room behind me is arranged with ten round tables, eight people huddled around each. The eighty participants have deliberated at their tables for the last half-hour, scribbling down their thoughts and prioritizing. Now we’re ready for the report out. “Here’s what our group decided….” A woman at the first table stands up. She takes a deep breath and I know what’s coming next. There is no valve on the faucet of World Café report outs. “We need more accountability in our teams and understanding of our roles and particularly the funding process and how it connects to our work and applications for grants and better transparency and…” Most graphic recorders have been in this situation – capturing a waterfall of overlapping ideas, some of them redundant. As we scramble to keep up, the graphic recording becomes a Jackson Pollack of words scribbled quickly without clear organization or legibility. The fast pace of World Cafés also offers little time for participants to digest what is said or offer additional thoughts. However, graphic recording can work incredibly well at World Cafés…. it just requires a bit of graphic facilitation. Rather than being a passive capture of the discussion (graphic recording), graphic facilitation comes in with a plan, organizes the content, displays it for everyone to review, and welcomes additional thoughts or ideas. So how do you integrate graphic facilitation with a World Café? 1. Plan in Advance As with any conference or meeting, advance planning is a must to ensure graphic recording or graphic facilitation isn’t just a “fun add-on” but rather an integral part of the meeting discussion and outcomes. In the weeks or days before a meeting, we discuss the best layout for the graphic recording, appropriate imagery or metaphors, and how best to organize the content. How much time is planned for each breakout group discussion? How much time for report outs? Who are the participants and what perspectives do they bring? Will participants have the opportunity to interact with the graphic recording? 2. Prepare the Breakout Groups The most successful World Cafés allow a large group of people to delve deep into a topic and come up with a variety of ideas. But it’s also valuable to take the discussion a step further by having groups prioritize their ideas. What are the top three items they feel need to happen first? In order to keep each breakout group focused on the goals, provide flip chart paper and assign a recorder to each table. This helps ensure all the details are written down, which are then collected after the report out and can be integrated on the graphic recording. Or, instead of flip chart paper at each table, consider a visual template to help keep groups on track! 3. Graphic Facilitator Drops In on Groups While each table discusses their topic, the graphic facilitator can roam around and drop in on...

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