bikablo training

The Difference Between a Graphic Recorder and Graphic Facilitator (and When to Use Them)

There’s something ironic about a field that prides itself in helping simplify complex information through visuals, but there’s confusion about what exactly to call ourselves. Some say “graphic recorder”, some say “graphic facilitator”, others use the word “scribe”. You may have even heard “infodoodler” or “sketch artist” or “that person over there who’s drawing really fast!”.

Of course there are countless processes, strategies, partnerships and ways of visually supporting teams. So, to help you try to navigate the Sea of Visual Jargon to figure out what you’re looking for, here’s a comparison of the ConverSketch definitions of two of my most requested services: graphic recording and graphic facilitation.

Graphic Recorder

As a graphic recorder, my main focus is live visual capture of content discussed or presented during an event. I have 1-2 planning calls with my client to understand their goals for including a graphic recorder, and to make sure I understand expectations. I’m a (mostly quiet) partner and resource to the facilitator running the meeting. During the event, my charts tend to have more illustrations than when I’m facilitating because that’s what I’m entirely focused on. A note here: although the word "facilitation" is not in the job title here, graphic recorders are often playing a very important role in the facilitation process, supporting groups and the "official" facilitator as a partner in a very unique and useful visual way. After the event, you keep the original drawings, I photograph and edit the digital images of the charts and send you a list of suggestions for how to leverage them tailored to you based on our conversations.

Graphic Facilitator

As a graphic facilitator, my relationship with the client is more involved because not only am I capturing key content visually during the event, I’m also working with you to design the process, facilitate the event, and make sure your next steps are clear. We have 3-5 planning calls (and a lot more emails) as we co-create an agenda that will help your group reach its’ goals, think about how to make the most of the visuals, and make sure the space will support the group to do their best thinking. I often spend lots of time preparing large-scale visual “templates” we can fill in together during the meeting (although not always, sometimes we start with a blank sheet too), and can create custom worksheets for the participants. And, because drawing can be such a powerful tool to clarify and deepen idea development, graphic facilitators might design activities and processes to get the participants drawing out their ideas to build shared understanding. During the meeting, I am facilitating the process, checking in to make sure we’re on track, and capturing content visually, but often these charts have more words than pictures as I’m balancing both the capture and guiding the discussion. Again, after the event you keep the original drawings, I photograph and edit the digital images of the charts and send you a list of suggestions for how to leverage them tailored to you, along with a short 1-2 page summary and suggested action steps.

Graphic Recorder or Graphic Facilitator.jpg

To make it even more interesting, some people use these terms interchangeably (i.e. they only use graphic facilitator even if they are solely focusing on visual capture), while others like me differentiate between the two. I think it's true that any sort of visual capture is a form of facilitation. Ultimately, I like to use the language that resonates with my clients and that they’ll remember, so yes, I do respond to “the artist”, “the graphic artist”, and “the woman with witty puns”. Again, these are only two options, but they can be confusing if you're new to visual lingo.

So, ask yourself, do you need a guide for the process? Or someone to focus entirely on visual capture? Both are useful in different situations. In the end, it’s important to have a conversation with the person you’re considering partnering with to be clear on expectations and to be sure you get set up for success!

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

Now that I know the difference, I’d like to talk more about…

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

bikablo hosted by conversketch

Last week I had the pleasure of being a partner and host for Frank and Carola, two trainers from Germany who teach the bikablo visual thinking method all over Europe. This summer, for the first time bikablo came to the US on an 8 stop tour, including Fort Collins. The training was a success, and we are looking into partnering for future training opportunities in Colorado! Thanks to the wonderful Wolverine Farm Letterpress & Publick House for the excellent venue!

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!

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!