drawing for business

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!

Hey! It's Time to Recognize!

Sometimes the world takes you by surprise.

Sometimes you think doing something you enjoy is just a hobby, and you like what you’re doing. But surely no one else would pay for it. (More on this little mind quirk coming in June).

There are moments in life when, if we are paying attention, we take a step back and recognize a pattern that keeps emerging. These patterns can be obvious or subtle. Either way, they can be difficult to recognize unless we are open to seeing them.

Heady, Karina. Give me something concrete here. Okay....

I have always loved art, and in fact picked up my first watercolor brush for a botanical study when I was about 7. Art classes were my favorite in school, and I even pursued an art major at CSU for a few semesters before dropping it for environmental communication.

You might be thinking, Right, but you’re an artist.

Too right! But until very recently -- we’re talking 2015 here -- I had this bizarre aversion to considering myself an artist.

Why?

I didn’t want to be a “starving artist” or to get stressed out about something I enjoyed doing if it was my career. And deep down, I didn’t think I could really be talented enough to sell my work as Fine Art. Sure, I had a knack for graphic recording, but that wasn’t Art, it was real-time-visual-distillation-and-synthesis-with-doodles that became my full-time job. Sure, people enjoyed little cards I made them and kept them on their fridges for a while (looking at you, Mike & Shayna). But that was just fun, something I did to keep myself on my toes and show my friends and family I care about them.

I am making a living creating graphic recording charts, which is still amazing to me, and when I shared a few little watercolor paintings I was playing with online, the resounding enthusiasm from viewers (like you) blew me away. To most people, this would be considered being an artist.

And now, finally after many months, years even, I’m opening up and allowing myself to think of me as an Artist. It’s been hugely fun, satisfying and I get to share my light, what I love doing, with others.

Cool, Karina. But what am I supposed to do here? Aren’t you just lucky you get to frolic with a kitten and do art?

There’s an element of luck here, for sure. Being born into a society where I can expect a solid education, and where I have rights and opportunities is really lucky. I also work hard. And I know what I’m doing is making a positive difference in peoples’ lives around me, which motivates that hard work.

So, what can YOU do? Probably a whole heck of a lot of things, and I’d most likely benefit from learning from you. But what I can offer at this wee point in time is this wee thought:

Take a moment to step back. Are there patterns you haven’t let yourself see because you thought they were impossible? Crazy? Impractical? Now, what would happen if you took a step toward that pattern? What would happen if you said “Yes” to whatever keeps tugging at you? Or what if you actually COULD do what you love and be successful with it? Tap into your intuition and let yourself FEEL what’s there.

This isn’t purely for self-interest, although enjoying your work is nice. Knowing your value, what you contribute, and how that fits in with your organization helps teams function more effectively, encourages collaboration and creativity, and boosts productivity.

Click on the image below to see the larger version.

We each have gifts to share with the world. It’s only by letting ourselves be open to giving them can we truly feel fulfilled and make a rockin’ contribution to the world.

If you liked this tip, please sign up for my emails and if you'd like, I'd be so grateful if you shared it with your friends!

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 someone to help you recognize the patterns in your life, then teach you to draw them out? ConverSketch now proudly offers Creative Visual Coaching to help you get your thoughts on paper, and equip you with skills to take action in the future.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Researchers at Colorado State University have partnered with Larimer County and the City of Fort Collins to reintroduce genetically pure and disease-free bison to Soapstone Prairie and Red Mountain Open Space in Colorado. This is the story of how the collaboration came to be and what made it a success.

When Can Being Intoxicated Be A Good Thing?

ConverSketch is intoxicated this week. No, last night wasn’t crazy, and , despite working from home, I haven’t started drinking early in the day (that's a joke, people!). I’m talking about a different kind of intoxication, and one that is a lot more productive.

This little post for you is inspired by the following piece by Hugh McLeod of GapingVoid Art.

As Hugh so eloquently puts it: You can be intoxicated by a lot of things. We like possibility.

This concept is nothing new, it’s the foundation of so many successful businesses. But somehow, this unorthodox way of stating a concept that these days often feels brittle and overused keeps me coming back to it. Thinking of possibility as intoxicating, as full of energy, new ideas and connections instead of overwhelming, unclear or unknown. And if you tend to get anxious and overwhelmed, you might enjoy this post on how drawing can help you move through overwhelm.

It's a craft to learn to tap into what you feel the moment you realize there’s a lot more to something than you originally thought. Which electrifies you. Suddenly hours have gone by, and there’s still more energy bubbling up from inside you.

There's a few things that have me intoxicated this week...
- Putting together and beta testing a new offering from ConverSketch to utilize my strengths connecting with and encouraging individuals to cultivate Aha Moments with folks one-on-one.
- Delivering prints of my watercolor paintings to the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery and Wolverine Farm Publick House to sell. (Note: The positive feedback I’ve gotten from you all with my painting really blows my mind. Thank you for giving me a resounding high five to continue pursuing and refining my fine art skills!)
- Seeing little vegetable sprouts emerging from tiny little seeds (how miraculous is that!?)

Click on the image below to see the larger version.

What possibilities are intoxicating you right now? Take a moment over a glass of wine or beer and doodle out some possibilities that are as enticing as a nice cool beverage on a warm summer evening.

What might be keeping you from taking a nice, big swig from that cup o’ possibility? What steps can you take THIS WEEK to move toward making it a reality?

Comment below so others can benefit from your wisdom. 

If you liked this tip, please sign up for my emails and if you'd like, I'd be so grateful if you shared it with your friends!

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




What possibilities are you exploring with your organization or individually? Click that button to chat with me about how I can help you make it more effective, productive and fun with graphic recording.
 

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Here's a snapshot from a graphic recording at a workshop with CSU's One Health Institute as the team worked with the talented folks at New City to develop a rockin' communication strategy moving forward. People, Animals, Planet. Heck yeah. 

How does a creative entrepreneur who enjoys predictability relax?

One of my favorite ways to wake up in the morning is the sound of birds singing.

Especially the sweet, gentle sounds that pull me gently from my slumber, but even the more, shall we say, insistent ones right outside my window are welcome to my ears. 

Why? 

Birds are a reminder for me of the importance of trust.

They trust that when they take their first flutters from the nest, they will be able to take flight. They trust that the sun will rise and they will sing their songs. They soar through windy skies, zip between tangled branches, or over steep ledges, because they trust what they are meant to be doing.

Wanting to have a pretty solid idea of what is likely to happen in the future is human nature. Some of us are more uncomfortable with not knowing than others, and of course practice makes progress.

I am one of those humans who generally enjoys some level of predictability. 

If there's one thing you can do in life to eliminate said predictability, I'm pretty sure that's to be a self-employed consultant. Add into that the fact that for many of my graphic recording jobs, I am not really sure what's going to happen during the session, but I will be expected to hand over a beautifully finished chart by the end of it. Uncertainty much?  And I must really enjoy this lack of control thing as I've recently delved a lot deeper into painting with watercolors (check the end of this email for more deets). Which tend to do what they want. 

Cue increased heart rate and impulse to reach for a glass of wine. 

Instead of letting my mind worry (a misuse of imagination, according to Dan Zadra), I take a few deep breaths and focus on trusting that everything is working out exactly as it's meant to.

And the birds can help us humans out too. Listening for as many different bird songs as I can is a fun practice that helps me get present and relax.

Then it's time to take action! Because as much as I trust that everything is unfolding divinely, you gotta do the work too.

Click on the image below to see the larger version on the blog.

Do you have any tips or tricks to share that help you focus on trust? Share in the comments below so others can benefit from your wisdom. 

If you liked this nugget of wisdom, please sign up for my emails and if you'd like, I'd be so grateful if you shared it with your friends!

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 someone you can trust to capture the essence of your next event? Click to get in touch about your next meeting or event that could use a touch of graphic facilitation magic.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

This month I've been working on my watercolor painting skills, leading to the creation of several Colorado wildlife paintings including this little flammulated owl.  If you'd like to see more paintings and work in progress shots, give me a follow on Instagram. If you like what you see and you're interested in purchasing fine art prints or greeting cards, let's chat!

A Simple & Surprising Trick to Make Your Ideas Crystal Clear

Hey hey, it's Wednesday!

And you know what that means...time to get your weekly dose of Visual.

This week's trick to clarify ideas is using white space intentionally. 

What comes to mind for you when you hear "white space"? For me, two things pop up. 
1) Mental clarity
2) More literally, intentionally leaving part of a graphic recording or painting untouched

I find that when I give myself time to clear my mind or step away from a project, even if it's just a few minutes, I'm then able to come back to it with more clarity and focus. And it turns out I'm not alone in that...here's an article from Fast Company about practicing mindfulness even when it feels like you don't have time.

In art, white space can be used to draw the viewer's attention to what is most important. In graphic facilitation, I find using white space helps the audience see the flow of information clearly, and makes the drawing less overwhelming when lots of information is being presented. 

Often when I'm working live graphic recording gigs, there will be so much fascinating and important information zooming around, before I know it my paper is filled to the edges. It is a continuous and conscientious practice to be sure I'm capturing what's most important and not over-crowding the chart. 

How can you use or create white space to be more effective and creative at work?

Here are some ideas for the office...
- Think you're all on the same page? MAKE SURE...write it down, draw some boxes and arrows, then leave some white space on the page so people can add, or by waiting a moment before speaking again to allow time for people to process, react, etc. This is often when the most creative or powerful idea emerge, when we allow a moment before responding (note to self...remember this!).
- If you're working collaboratively, leave a space in your document or iPad sketch to allow yourselves to add to later...who knows what new experiences might happen tomorrow or in the 5 minutes after the meeting that could illuminate a new path or idea!

If you feel like there are too many things flying around your mind to be able to focus, try...
- Taking at least five minutes to meditate -- sit quietly and focus on your breathing or take a stroll outside and try to count how many different bird songs you hear.
- Do a "brain dump" by writing down EVERYTHING that comes to mind. You can create a mind map, a list or just write stream of consciousness until everything is out.
- Grab an adult coloring book and spend some time in the zone. Don't have one? See the drawing below for some DIY ideas!

Remember to give yourself some white space so you can be crystal clear on what's most important for you, your team or your family...and sneak some creativity in to supercharge your day. 

If you liked this tip, please sign up for my emails and if you'd like, share this with someone you think would enjoy some white space!

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


Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Last week I did an annual "Facilitation 101" training with undergraduate students in an environmental conflict management course at CSU. We focused on tools and techniques the students could use in stakeholder engagement processes as they move beyond their education and into internships and jobs in the environmental field. 


What Can Jack-O-Lanterns Teach Us About Business?

Happy Wednesday!

Carved pumpkins are emerging and I've appreciated several characteristics they share with a genuine and successful business and life. 

Each jack-o-lantern is unique, unapologetic about imperfections (really, they totally own them) and they proudly shine their unique lights out for the world. If it's blowing rain sideways or still and quiet night, jack-o-lanterns shine on. 

My most meaningful days, whether they are focused on running my business as a graphic facilitator or living life, are when I'm tuned into what makes me unique and I share that with those around me. So today I encourage you to be generous with your Light, shine it brightly and joyously, even if the wind picks up or snow starts to fall. Because you're the only one who can shine your Light the way you do. 

Here’s this week's drawing tip:

Love the imperfections. If you're drawing and a line isn't as straight or round as you'd like, embrace it anyway. See how that "imperfection" actually makes your drawing even more interesting or calls attention to your unique style. Be like that Jack-O-Lantern and just "glow" with the flow!

As a graphic recorder sometimes things go, shall I say, different than I had hoped or expected, so I try to look at it from a new perspective and make it part of that unique graphic facilitation!
 
(Hint: click on the image below to see the larger version)

Comment and upload your Sketch below to share your unique style and inspire someone else!  And of course, any questions, epiphanies, and requests for future ConverSKETCHes!

If you liked this tip, please sign up for my emails and if you'd like,  share this with friends who have a unique, bright Light to shine out to the world!

Thanks for reading and doodling this week. Keep drawing, and shining your authentic Light out to the world!

Cheers, Karina




Having trouble finding a match to ignite your individual or business's unique Light? Get in touch with me to set up a one-on-one or small group visual mapping session to see how to illuminate your uniqueness to make an impact!

Where In The World Is ConverSketch?

The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is a gem in our town, and I'm stoked to have filmed a new explainer video for their Annual Report this year! Here's a teaser -- look for the finished short in early November!