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.