Should You Hire a Graphic Recorder? Ask Yourself These Questions to Decide

As tempting as it is to impress upon you, my lovely readers, that really there’s never a bad time for a graphic recorder, some events and meetings are better suited than others to have visual support. So, to help you decide if bringing in a graphic recorder is a good idea, here are some guiding questions for you and your team:

What are my goals for this event?

Do you want to co-create a strategic plan? Brainstorm and prioritize new ideas? Bring together a new group and hope they leave as a team? Share the state of the science for your field?  If there’s complex information, you want to get a group on the same page, or keynote presentations that can inform future discussions, graphic recording is right for you.

It may not be a good fit if there will be back-to-back presentations with lots of slides and little or no time to discuss the content*, or you’re only looking to get caricatures of everyone on the team. A graphic recorder’s number one goal is to capture key content in a way that makes it more accessible to the group, which often means an illustration, but not always. And if there will be simultaneous sessions you want captured, then plan to hire a team of recorders.

*An exception would be if you plan to build on the content later.

Why am I considering a graphic recorder?

Do you want to engage people during technical discussions? To keep them collaborating after the event? To work through a complex challenge? To make your event or meeting stand out amongst a sea of others? Finding someone who has the right amount of technical understanding and can design work that will truly support the group as they move forward can be integral to the success of the group.

Will we need to look at or build on this later?

Graphic recording provides succinct maps of the conversation or presentations that are actually interesting to look at and build on. I also work with each of my clients to create a tailored list of suggestions for how to leverage the charts after the event. What action (if any) is desired after the event? How can you keep people engaged and motivated around the meeting ideas? How will people communicate what they’ve learned to those who weren’t there? Graphic recording can be an extremely powerful tool not only during, but long after the event when used well.

How well does this group know each other? Are they good at collaborating already, or are they newly formed? Is there history?

Graphic recording can be a power boost tool for established groups, and can be even more powerful for new groups just forming. When people see their ideas and know others in the group also see them, they feel heard, and move from thinking of it as “my idea” to “our ideas”. Facilitating this kind of collaborative thinking early on in the team’s existence can save time, build trust, and get things moving faster, even if there is “history” or “baggage” between some group members.

Am I looking for someone to design the process & be a neutral lead in the discussion too?

If so, you’re looking for a facilitator, which is great! Graphic recorders are wonderful team players and work well with facilitators to more deeply understand the process and create visuals to support the group.

should-i-hire-a-graphic-recorder-decision-chart

One more thing…

Keep in mind that if you’ve roped in a good graphic recorder, the sooner you engage with them in the meeting design process the better as we can help you figure out where in the agenda graphic recording can provide the most for your participants. Of course, we’re really flexible and good at adapting on the fly, so if it’s a last-minute decision, we can usually roll with it and still rock your world.

At this point, if you happen to be wondering what the difference between a graphic recorder and a graphic facilitator is, you’re in luck, because that’s what I’ll be writing about in a couple of weeks!

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Sounds like I could use a graphic recorder for my next event!

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Bikablo – One More Spot! We’ve just opened one more spot for the 2-day immersive Bikablo Visual Facilitation training August 15-16 in Fort Collins, Colorado. Click here to find out more and register!

Bikablo – One More Spot!

We’ve just opened one more spot for the 2-day immersive Bikablo Visual Facilitation training August 15-16 in Fort Collins, Colorado. Click here to find out more and register!

The Cache la Poudre Canyon Last week I had the distinct pleasure of a new experience with my US Forest Service clients – I got to camp out with them before graphic facilitating a mostly-outdoors retreat! An inspiring and beautiful location can go a long way for inspiring innovative and collaborative ideas!

The Cache la Poudre Canyon

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of a new experience with my US Forest Service clients – I got to camp out with them before graphic facilitating a mostly-outdoors retreat! An inspiring and beautiful location can go a long way for inspiring innovative and collaborative ideas!

How to Make the Most of Meetings

No matter who you are or where you work, you go to meetings. There is a spectrum of how you feel about meetings. It looks like this:

graphic-recording-feelings-about-meetings-spectrum

My goal with this post is to move you, at least a little, from the eel side to the OMG side of things by sharing some tips on how to make your meetings effective, useful, and fun.

Purpose.

  • Always have a clear goal or purpose for the meeting, and make sure everyone knows.
  • Always have an agenda (even if it’s just “5-minute update from both teams”). Again, make sure everyone knows.

Timing.

  • Create an expectation that meetings start and end on time, and stick to it.
  • Limit meetings to 30 minutes and see what you can actually do with that focused time.
  • Start meetings at an unusual time, like 1:36 pm.
  • How do you make sure to stay on time? Read on…

Technology.

  • Place a Phone Basket by the door and have everyone, including leadership, put their phones in there.

Consequences.

  • To ensure these guidelines are respected, institute consequences – positive or negative – for behaviors that support or undermine being on time.
  • For example, if you’re late, do 10 pushups for every late minute or you have to sing a song in front of the group.
  • If you are the reason a meeting goes long, you have to buy a round of drinks for everyone, or bring coffee for everyone next time.
  • If a phone rings during the meeting, the person needs to make a donation to a non-profit of choice.

Bring in a graphic recorder or graphic facilitator.

  • Your team will be able to wade through complexity more quickly and easily by seeing the conversation take place in front of them.
  • People stay engaged and better remember key ideas from the meeting.
  • Seeking connections and working collaboratively become second nature to the group.
  • Having a tangible map of what was achieved helps keep people focused and action-oriented after the meeting is over.

To me, the key for success here is building these behaviors and expectations into the organization’s culture.

graphic-recording-how-to-make-meetings-beter

For more great tips on effective meetings, read this article from Fast Company.

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Interested in hosting the most interesting meetings in the world?

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

This week I’m out East in the DC area with the NSA again. We’re talking leadership, resiliency, and management styles and how to help teams work better together.

This week I’m out East in the DC area with the NSA again. We’re talking leadership, resiliency, and management styles and how to help teams work better together.

Talk Nerdy to Me: The Science Behind Why Graphic Recording Works

If you’ve ever experienced graphic recording, you know it’s an extremely valuable tool to support groups to do their best thinking. But what is it that’s making the meeting feel so productive, insightful, and energized?

Today, instead of my usual explanation (It’s magic…see, I even just added a Unicorn to your strategic plan!), I’d like to share some of the neuroscience behind the benefits of having a graphic recorder or facilitator supporting your group.

Visual thinking is innate. From the Harvard Gazette: “…the study found that even when [participants] were prompted to use verbal thinking, people created visual images to accompany their inner speech, suggesting that visual thinking is deeply ingrained in the brain.”

Thinking visually helps us remember information better…

  • “People who were encouraged to doodle…were able to remember 29% more of the information on a surprise quiz later,” Wall Street Journal
  • Dual Coding Theory: Information is more likely to be understood and remembered when presented using images and words.
  • Cognitive Load Theory: We have a finite amount of “brain power” to apply to critical thinking, remembering, or being creative. In fact, our brains can remember up to seven chunks of information before we start letting other things go. Using visual cues helps free up our minds from keeping track of those chunks and instead focus on connecting ideas, remembering key information, and creative thinking.

…and to express our emotions more deeply…which, in turn, results in a stronger memory and likelihood to retain information. An article by the Wall Street Journal cited a study that showed more complex emotional communication and processing from doodles than written responses: "Their pictures communicated more than just a text or a regular photo. They were more personal, more intimate."

We all learn best in different ways. There are four ways in which people learn; auditory —prefer to listen, visual—prefer to see, verbal—prefer to speak, and kinesthetic—prefer to move or do some physical activity. Graphic recording can support all four modalities as people hear the speaker, see the images and words, and get up to see the drawings closer, or walk around the view them.

Everyone wants your attention, which means visuals are more likely to be looked at and engaged with. “Recent studies say that nowadays, content is browsed 94% more often if it contains images and is shared 40 times more often in social media if it contains images.” - Visual Facilitation Cookbook

Side note: I could geek out on this all day – in fact a large chunk of my master’s thesis was devoted to using visual thinking to support understanding of the complex science of climate change. For more articles and publications, check out my Resources page. If you want to talk more, please let’s do!

Side note: I could geek out on this all day – in fact a large chunk of my master’s thesis was devoted to using visual thinking to support understanding of the complex science of climate change. For more articles and publications, check out my Resources page. If you want to talk more, please let’s do!

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Think this sounds pretty neat? Let’s put science into action for your organization.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Feeling the ENERGY in Utah. This week I'm back in Salt Lake capturing content for an Energy Democracy Symposium at the University of Utah. Starting tomorrow...so for now here's a watercolor card of the Irish countryside I made for my Da.

Feeling the ENERGY in Utah.

This week I'm back in Salt Lake capturing content for an Energy Democracy Symposium at the University of Utah. Starting tomorrow...so for now here's a watercolor card of the Irish countryside I made for my Da.

What They Don't Tell You About Storytelling

Storytelling is a deemed an “irresistible” and powerful tool for strategic thinking and marketing in business these days.

Good stories need to keep our attention -- which is a rarity in a time of sensory overload and instant gratification – by creating some sort of tension that ensnares the emotions and intrigues the audience. Good marketing uses the power of story to go beyond what a company does or makes to share a deeper understanding of the companies’ Why.

But just because we’re telling a story, does that mean the strategy is working?

Over the past year, I’ve been drawn to the concept of storylistening, which embodies what graphic recording is all about.

Taking a moment to reflect, “storytelling” assumes that if we speak a story, people will listen to it. But people are busy, they’re not going to listen to you unless they have a reason.

During strategic planning or visioning, successful processes allow space for leaders to listen to the past, connect it with the present, and create space for people to see the future. Using graphic recording supports the group to tell a story that helps everyone see the Vision, to own it, live it and make it happen.

A good storyteller tells a tale with the audience, reacting and shifting the story as needed. Listening, visually capturing, synthesizing and adjusting with the group is one of my favorite parts of graphic facilitation. Sometimes it looks messy, but if it helps the group tell and listen to their collaborative story, then we’ve done good work together.

How can you give people a reason to listen to your story?

conversketch-graphic-recorder-good-stories

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Want to get everyone at your company telling the same story? Already have a story, but want to spice it up and share it with the world?

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

The American Society of Safety Engineers

I just want to say you are awesome and you take our brand to the next level! We love you!!        - Alex Scovil, Gates Corporation

I just want to say you are awesome and you take our brand to the next level! We love you!!        - Alex Scovil, Gates Corporation

Fort Laramie Illustrated Video

The first Drawing Connections to Climate Change video is now out! Find out how a National Historic Monument in Wyoming is feeling the impact of a changing climate, and share your ideas to create a different future! CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO WATCH THE VIDEO.

Use This Handy Trick to Get the Hang of Drawing a Face in Profile

One thing that’s always been a challenge to me is drawing faces, and especially…the dreaded profile!

While not altogether needed in most live graphic recording work since I’m focusing on capturing the content high-speed so you can see what you’re talking about, sometimes I find myself wanting to draw a cool perspective, or have a bit more time to do some detail work, and don’t want my cool illustration of your ideas to end up looking like this:

Work by Picasso. Just in case you thought it was mine.

Work by Picasso. Just in case you thought it was mine.

Wait…that’s actually pretty nice…

Anyway, you get the point.

So, I did some research and found this handy little trick to help with where to put all those little features that make up our faces…like eyes and noses.

learn to draw a profile

This is just a beginning guide. Get creative! Experiment with different shapes of noses. What happens if you change the eyebrow ridge above the eyes? What can you do to make it look more male or female? Younger or older? How can you add emotions? Have fun and play with it!

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

You've got the team, I've got the markers. Let's talk about your next event that could use a touch of visual storytelling.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Currently: Near Baltimore, Maryland capturing a training on management and communication for the NSA. So yeah, I can't say much about it at this point... Other than it's always a good day when you figure out how to work in the Lion King.

Circles of Life NSA Leadership Training Graphic Recording

Also:

The CSU Center for Public Deliberation is one of the gems that makes Fort Collins unique. I’m fortunate to be a graduate of the student training and continue to be involved as a Community Associate and help out facilitating or graphic recording for various dialogue and deliberative processes they facilitate. Earlier this month they put on a session called Beyond Partisan Politics: The Power of Authentic Engagement. During this session we learned the neuroscience behind why it’s so easy to get trapped in the downward spiral of False Polarization, and tips on how to have a productive conversation, even if you don’t agree with someone. Here’s the graphic recording chart from the evening.

The CSU Center for Public Deliberation is one of the gems that makes Fort Collins unique. I’m fortunate to be a graduate of the student training and continue to be involved as a Community Associate and help out facilitating or graphic recording for various dialogue and deliberative processes they facilitate. Earlier this month they put on a session called Beyond Partisan Politics: The Power of Authentic Engagement. During this session we learned the neuroscience behind why it’s so easy to get trapped in the downward spiral of False Polarization, and tips on how to have a productive conversation, even if you don’t agree with someone. Here’s the graphic recording chart from the evening.

What do Romance Novels and a Piano Have to do with Endless Creativity?

One of my favorite things to do while in traffic is to listen to “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me”. Somehow, no matter how stuck I am, I end up laughing and feeling good. And when someone like Nora Roberts is interviewed, in addition to adding a few years to our lives from laughing so much, we’re also blessed with some casual little Insight Blasts from a creative genius: she’s had 198 books on the New York Times best-seller list.

When asked about writer’s block, or feeling like she’s run out of every possible romance or thriller story possible, Nora blithely responded “Well, there’s 88 keys on the piano, but do you run out of music?”

88-keys-to-creativity-from-graphic-recorder

Another way of saying this, from Hugh McLeod:

hugh mcleod creativity is a drive

It takes more than just sitting down for 5 minutes and expecting something brilliant immediately that will be perfect for your Instagram feed. It’s about taking time and being present with your work. And it’s about setting high expectations for yourself and holding yourself to them.

Of course, it’s a balance between knowing when to take time away from a project, and when to push through because you need to put in the work to become amazing at what you do. And you want to be amazing because you’re the ONLY person on this planet who can give what you have to give.

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Looking for someone to capture your team's creativity?

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Thanks to you, the only available spots for the Bikablo + ConverSketch training are on the Waitlist. If you’d like to be added, please let me know ASAP.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of capturing presentations of young philanthropists at Berthoud High School as they presented about various non-profit organizations in the community doing work to support youth. They had visited with each organization and then had to decide if and how much funding from a grant they wanted to allocate. I graphic recorded, and to my delight, the teacher shared with me they had the illustrations made into plaques for each of the organizations awarded funding!

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of capturing presentations of young philanthropists at Berthoud High School as they presented about various non-profit organizations in the community doing work to support youth. They had visited with each organization and then had to decide if and how much funding from a grant they wanted to allocate. I graphic recorded, and to my delight, the teacher shared with me they had the illustrations made into plaques for each of the organizations awarded funding!

Use These Techniques to Diffuse A Tense Scenario at Work (or at Home)

One of the exciting things about being a facilitator is that you get to work with people. And people are not always predictable, which may leave you in the midst of a conversation that heated up real quick, and all eyes are on YOU to see how you’ll handle the situation.

You’ve got to think quickly, act compassionately, and get the group back on track without saying something that will completely shut individuals or the group down. (And at this point your client is super pumped they made the savvy decision to bring in a facilitator for this meeting instead of having to be the one in the hot seat.)

What do you do? This week I’m sharing some tips from the lovely and talented Carrie Bennett on how to “Unload Loaded Language”.

  1. Stay calm!  This isn’t about you.  It’s your job to help people hear and understand one another, not weigh in on the merits of their ideas. 
  2. Dig through the negative to find what the person DOES want.  Buried in their statements is something even their “opponent” can probably support in some way (try to find the interest behind their position).  The more you know about the issues, the more easily you can do this but you don’t need to be an expert.  Listen for what’s important to people.
  3. Translate the loaded language into something more neutral. Try to preserve the interest and check back to get the speaker’s agreement before you go on.

Give it a try…how can you re-frame these statements to be more neutral?

  • Melanie is such a slob.  I can’t even work with her because I’m always having to clean up her messes.  I’m not her maid!
  • You know, these freeloaders aren’t even trying.  They’re just happy to live off the government and let the rest of us foot the bill.  If they really wanted a better life, they would get off their @$$*$ and get a job.
ConverSketch learn to draw unloading

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Need a professional to help guide your group and unload things if they get spicy?

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

The first week of April we got to take some time off and float through Cataract Canyon in Utah. I love rafting because I get to disconnect completely, be present, and enjoy the beauty of the Canyon and my friends. I always try to sneak in a bit of plein air watercolor, and waiting for the shuttle was a perfect moment to do a quick sketch.

The first week of April we got to take some time off and float through Cataract Canyon in Utah. I love rafting because I get to disconnect completely, be present, and enjoy the beauty of the Canyon and my friends. I always try to sneak in a bit of plein air watercolor, and waiting for the shuttle was a perfect moment to do a quick sketch.

Since we got back from Cataract, it's been full on video production here at ConverSketch HQ. Here's the one I finished up last week -- and hopefully you'll get to see another one in the next post as well.

It's Coming...Bikablo + ConverSketch Graphic Facilitation Training!

Good morning!

I’m going to start off today’s email with a special announcement! This is something that’s never happened in the United States before. Something that could completely change the way you think about how you work: 

I’m hosting a 2-day graphic recording training with Bikablo®!

This summer, for 2 whole days, two very talented people from the German-based graphic facilitation training company Bikablo will be right here in Fort Collins teaching 14 lucky participants their Visual Ninja Secrets! Bikablo has been training people across Europe to be better visual communicators for over 15 years. I’m really excited because we are tailoring the session to our participants by designing time to think about how you can bring what you’re learning back to your job and life.

This is the perfect training for anyone, whether you’re a professional artist or feel “artistically challenged”. For people who shudder at the idea of drawing in front of people (gasp!) – Frank and Carola will start us off with the very basics. If you’re a practiced illustrator, learn how to leverage your skills to work fast and support groups to do their best thinking.

Spots are already filling up, so click on that nice button and get yourself signed up today!

Curious about their methods? Here’s my take on the Bikablo way to draw a light bulb:

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

This week I’m so grateful to be re-charging in the desert with a week-long rafting trip in Cataract Canyon. You all know I believe balance is the key to successfully and whole-heartedly running a business, and that nature is at the heart of my creative wellspring. I’ll hope to share some watercolors from the Canyon next time…but for now I’m delighted to share a highlight reel from the Gates booth at ConEXPO earlier this month. Although it’s not only about the graphic recording, you’ll get a chance to see me in action getting to meet awesome expo attendees from around the world and illustrating their ideas right before their eyes! A win-win – Gates got some great on-the-ground market research data, and attendees saw their ideas come to life – something completely different than anything else at the 130,000-person Expo!