Value of Graphic Recording


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The majority of us are primarily visual learners, so it’s no surprise that using visuals during meetings has proven to increase information retention (Robert Horn, Stanford University). The picture superiority effect is real — humans are hard-wired to absorb and understand images quicker than text or audio information.

As a graphic recorder, I listen to the meeting dialogue, synthesize the content into organized text and visuals, and connect ideas to a bigger picture…. all while following the discussion in real time! (see my article on The Art of Listening Like a Graphic Recorder)

Graphic recording isn’t about creating a “pretty picture” — it’s a powerful engagement tool that brings a deeper level of understanding to meetings. Capturing a meeting in this visual way helps bridge communication barriers and acknowledges everyone’s point of view. Whether it’s patient journey mapping, strategic planning with a board, or drawing out a series of keynotes… graphic recording facilitates solution-finding and understanding the “big picture.” 

Graphic recording helps…

  • Encourage strategic thinking
  • Clarify and graphically depict strategies
  • Inform and involve organizations in real time strategic change
  • Develop company and departmental vision statements
  • Deepen understanding by encouraging big picture thinking
  • Get buy-in and transparency
  • Draw out the best from individuals and teams
  • Capture a rich picture of conferences and events
  • Have a group memory that can be used to tell the story of the event to those who were not present

How can graphic recording bring the most value to your meeting or event? It’s a collaborative process before, during, and after a meeting to ensure the graphics are well integrated with the meeting objectives.

Strategic planning the future of an Alberta organization.

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Before a Meeting

Consultation & Planning

Graphic recording has the biggest value when we plan in advance how best to integrate it with your meeting. This includes a couple of planning calls with you or the meeting organizer so I have a fulsome understanding of the topics being discussed, objectives for the session, and how graphic recording can best support these. 

I customize graphic recording to each meeting, depending on the objectives and format. World Cafes, plenary presentations, break out sessions, board retreats, etc. are all unique and require a tailored approach. Collaborating in advance with meeting organizers also helps determine what will work best for the style of facilitation and the group dynamic.

Below are just a few examples of how graphic recording can be customized… there are numerous ways of tailoring it to your meeting or event!

  • Visual Templates – If a board is working through a complex strategic plan and identifying key actions over the next five years, we can design a large visual template to support this discussion and populate it as the group works through each stage (see my article on How Graphics Help Facilitate Strategic Work).
  • Interactive Graphic Recording – An interactive graphic recording gets people on their feet and engaging with the “big picture” directly (see my article on Interactive Graphic Recording).
  • Visual Worksheets – World Cafes often overflow with multiple ideas – having large visual worksheets at each table helps focus group discussions and keeps ideas organized. 
  • Gallery Walks – build reflection time into the agenda so participants can do a “gallery walk” and review the graphic recordings and add their own insights or ideas.

Example Visual Template used to help guide a board through key actions over the next year.

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Research & Custom Imagery

Prior to a meeting, I do significant background research into your topics, organization, and industry in order to design a unique repertoire of imagery and metaphors for the graphic recording. This makes a huge difference in the audience connecting to the graphics and feeling they’re authentic to the meeting, rather than composed of cliched metaphors or inaccurate imagery (see my article on Research and Cultural Sensitivity in Graphic Recording).

During a Meeting

Graphic recording fits seamlessly into a meeting if thorough pre-planning is done ahead of time. However, even the best planned meeting can go sideways so it’s important to stay open and flexible to the meeting’s needs.

The graphic recordings are not an untouchable piece of art or something that I “own” — graphic recording is a group creation and therefore the meeting attendees should feel comfortable sharing what resonated with them, or letting me know what needs correcting. These are a few ways to help people connect to the graphic recordings during the meeting:

  • Introduce the graphic recorder and explain the purpose of graphic recording.
  • Display the graphic recordings – so people can do a “gallery walk” and reflect on the content or take photos.
  • Interact with the graphic recordings – meeting participants are encouraged to share what resonated with them or what needs to be corrected in the graphic recordings. Post-it notes are also provided for people to add their thoughts to the graphic recordings; these thoughts can then be integrated on the graphic recording.
  • Check-In – The graphic recorder and meeting organizer and/or facilitator should check in frequently with one another throughout the meeting in case there are any changes to the agenda or adjustments needed in how the graphic recording is being utilized.
  • Corrections – It’s important that if there are any corrections needed to the graphic recordings that they’re made in the meeting so that participants can see the edits.

A meeting participant adds his thoughts to an interactive graphic recording.

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After a Meeting

Each graphic recording is photographed and converted into a high-resolution image. The images are cleaned up in Photoshop so the colours pop, the whites are really white, and they’re ready for inclusion in reports or posted on your website. We can also make any corrections to the digital images, if needed.

We’ll also discuss a variety of options to ensure the graphic recordings continue to add value well after the meeting:

  • Printed Handouts – everyone gets a copy to keep the discussion fresh in mind. The digital graphic recordings can also be printed on thank you cards or as smaller posters.
  • Isolate Imageswe can isolate images in the graphic recordings as individual .jpegs. They’re great as icons in presentations, promo materials, or social media!
  • Visual Reportwe can compile the graphic recordings into a visual report, which includes summary write-ups about the meeting and photographs or diagrams.
  • Prezi – this dynamic presentation format virtually walks a viewer through the graphic recordings and we can add text, diagrams, photos, or video. Prezis are a do-all format: they can be emailed to colleagues, embedded on websites, or presented at future meetings.
  • Whiteboard VideoWant a polished and eye-catching promo video? Converting graphic recordings into a whiteboard video is a fresh way to grab an outside audience and really showcase the direction your organization is heading.

Connect with me today to discuss your next meeting!

Tanya Gadsby, Graphic Recording & Whiteboard Videos

[email protected] (250) 634-0727