karina mullen

The ConverSketch Illustrated Video: Process In Images & Words

This week’s blog is going to be fairly straightforward and focused on the in’s and out’s of the video process when I work with clients. Different folks do it differently, and for me, it’s important to be clear about the process and expectations, which I’ll write more about next time.

Below you’ll find a sketch of what it looks like to go through the full video creation process with me. Each project and client is different, so we tweak things. But here’s the basic flow, with a few notes below.

ConverSketch Illustrated Video Process_Small.jpg
  • Scoping meeting/call (what’s the goal? Who’s your audience? What style? Time frame & budget?)
  • Script writing responsibility and number of revisions determined with client before project begins.
  • Storyboard revisions again, TBD with my client, but usually I stick with two rounds of revisions on storyboard sketches. Once sketches are approved here, all imagery is FINAL and cannot be changed.
  • Rough Cut revisions include changes to timing, volume, VO, music, color, movement speed, etc.
  • You get the Final Cut and we share that puppy!

At this point, you might be wondering how long it takes to create one of these. And the maddening answer I'll give you is...it depends. To give a ball-park, in an ideal world, between 4 and 8 weeks.

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 you know what it takes…

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

This week I filmed the second video in a series about wildfire research to help communities become more adapted and resilient to wildfire. Which, is kind of a big deal in the  Western US this year …

This week I filmed the second video in a series about wildfire research to help communities become more adapted and resilient to wildfire. Which, is kind of a big deal in the Western US this year

...And I'm headed back to Utah tomorrow to spend some time visioning with Deans at the U! More to come!

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!

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.

Introducing...A Kickass Visual Guide to Productivity Just for You!

Happy Wednesday, people!

This week I’m delighted to share with you a productivity tool I’ve been working on and refining this year for a very special group of people. People who think critically and creatively, who care about others in their lives, and who want to make this world a better place through their unique gifts and contributions.

Yep, I’m talking about YOU!

As a creative freelancer, I’m my own boss. Which is phenomenal in many ways, but it does mean that nobody else is there to hold me accountable or be an accountability buddy. I mean, Moxie does try to help, but tends to lose interest or fall asleep when I try to get feedback from her.

So, as a result of working from a home office and having some very productive days, and some not-so-productive days, I’ve been checking out focus and time management tools from successful business people and beta testing them to see how they work for me.

One theme I’ve seen is that breaking work into chunks helps me stay focused. Just doing one project, even if it’s only for 15 minutes at a time, and writing down things that pop into my mind to take care of later, rather than jumping from task to task. Another is to take time to appreciate what you’re grateful for – whether or not it’s directly related to work or the project. Then there’s always the principle of learning from your mistakes – learning from what didn’t go as well as you’d hoped. But I’d take it one step further, and suggest that it’s also important to learn from what DID go well too, and do more of that! And finally, giving yourself time to relax and refresh between intense focused periods. For many people, taking some time to move around is an integral part of processing information and improving memory!

So this week I’m going to share with you a tool I’ve adapted from the work of other entrepreneurs and thought leaders and given a visual spin.

And I’d like to ask you a favor: Will you help me make it better? If you use this tool, will you let me know what you love and what you’d like to see changed to improve it? Iterative design, my friends…iterative design. And the collective brain power, experience and critical thinking of this group is exactly the ticket, I think!

*Right click to download!

 

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Currently: Las Vegas, Nevada for CONEXPO! I’m here with Gates Safety illustrating expo attendees’ big ideas, concerns and solutions…right before their eyes!

Gates Safety ConExpo Graphic Recording

I’m also tickled to share the newest Video from my studio. This one is for the CSU Alumni Association, and I’m proud to say it’s the first video I’ve produced from script to final edits!

You've Got The Power!

This time of year is all about giving. And while it can be overwhelming between the list of presents, party hosting, wrapping up work and spending time with loved ones, remember that you always have a gift to share. And it doesn’t cost a thing! In fact, you’ll probably benefit from the whole thing too.

Never underestimate the power of a smile or a kind word.

Whether it’s to a stranger on the street, the folks you work with every day, or the person returning grocery carts from the parking lot to the front of the store, a smile or saying something nice can make a world of difference. And it costs nothing. And you’ll feel better too. Win/Win/Win.

My father-in-law does this really well – he always has a funny quip and a kind word for people who tend to be over-looked. I love watching these interactions because sometimes it takes people a moment to realize he’s joking with them, but they always end up with a big grin on their faces.

So, this month while it’s tempting to be caught up in your own stress or to be grumpy that you have to wait in long lines, try turning that frown upside-down and giving a word of praise or appreciation, and see if you can create a ripple effect around you.

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 your team see just how much you've accomplished this year & then give high fives about it? Click to get in touch about your next meeting or event that could use a touch of graphic recording magic.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Last week I got to spend an afternoon with leaders across the City of Fort Collins to talk about how to move beyond boundaries to work better together. Onward!

An artist, a scientist and an entrepreneur walk into a bar…

Hello!

Thanks to everyone who shared feedback on my last email. Based on what I heard, this week I’ll return to your regularly scheduled insights & drawing tips. My goal with these emails is to equip you with tools to spark ideas and creativity, so as always, if there are things you’d like to hear about or have been yearning to draw, please let me know!

When was the last time you laughed? Almost certainly it was with other people, and likely not even at a joke. It turns out that laughter is something we as humans use to bond with each other, rather than something we learn. This means it’s actually an instinct, and one that makes us feel closer with one another. Plus, it helps relieve stress and often improves your mood.

So, laughter can help us build great teams. But let’s be real here. Laughter isn’t something you can manufacture or fake, we know when it’s not genuine.

How can you create a space that inspires more laughs, and therefore more synergy between you and your team?

Try adopting a playful mentality. One way to cultivate this is with doodles and drawings. Approaching things from a place of playful curiosity tends to lead to a more optimistic and laughter-prone conversation.  The next time you find yourself tensing up and getting ready to defend something, see if you can take a moment, relax your shoulders, and ask yourself if you could take a more playful approach.

“Smile. It makes people wonder what you’re up to.” - Anonymous
 

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. Click to get in touch about your next meeting or event that could use a touch of visual storytelling humor & magic.
 

Where in the World is ConverSketch

Research in Action! Last week I got to graphic record stories and insights from researchers at CU Anschutz Medical Campus who had spent a week immersed in two communities around Denver. They built relationships and heard needs and perspectives from people in historically underprivileged groups about how medical research could be better done and shared in their neighborhoods.

The Benefits of Disagreement: How to Leverage it to Make Your Team a Communication Powerhouse.

In my last newsletter, I focused on the idea of creating a culture of open communication to foster a team that’s antifragile. This week I’d like to build on that and give you another tool to use to improve communication in your organization/team/family/etc. (If you’re asking yourself what the heck “antifragile” means, you can find the post here).

We all have different communication styles, and I’m a person who, most of the time, naturally does not particularly enjoy disagreements or arguments. Yet as a graphic facilitator, I often intentionally develop processes for my clients that make space for ideas to clash.

No, I don’t just get all the right people in the room, then open with some inflammatory question that sets everyone on edge and then let the group have at it. Recipe for disaster.

Instead, I frame disagreement as a way to avoid a pitfall that organizations across sectors find themselves in: If nobody is disagreeing, we all must be on the same page, right?

NOT NECESSARILY!

Okay, maybe you’ve done heaps of work, you actually ARE all agreeing on the same level, and you’re ready to crush it. But many times leaders find themselves with team members who are frustrated because they feel like they can’t safely share ideas that are different or at odds with others.

One way to start helping folks feel better about disagreeing is to start with one of my favorite ground rules from the Center for Public Deliberation at Colorado State University:

It’s okay to disagree, but do so with curiosity, not hostility.

Asking people to be curious when they’re disagreeing can be a powerful mental shift because it allows them to question in a constructive way, and also to accept different perspectives without getting defensive. Because we all know that no matter how carefully we plan, how great an idea might be in the meeting room, something unexpected will happen.

We also know that it takes courage to let yourself be vulnerable by suggesting half-formed ideas that you think could spark something great from your team. Allowing and encouraging your peeps to look beyond the obvious solutions by disagreeing curiously can help you avoid costly mistakes up front and build better concepts in the long run.

If a meeting, event, or the culture you nurture in your team is built on the idea that it’s good to disagree curiously, that allows people the space and encouragement to question, share, scrap & start over. It builds open, respectful communication, which builds trust. Which leads to great teams doing amazing things together. Boom.

Click on the image below to see the larger version.

ConverSKETCHes_Curiosity.jpg

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 create a space for curious disagreement for 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?

The City and County of Salt Lake, Utah have been working for over a year to better understand and respond to the needs of homeless individuals. Through outreach and collaborative governance, new resource centers will be available to help people move beyond homelessness. Here's a Strategic Illustration of their process and ideas moving forward.

The City and County of Salt Lake, Utah have been working for over a year to better understand and respond to the needs of homeless individuals. Through outreach and collaborative governance, new resource centers will be available to help people move beyond homelessness. Here's a Strategic Illustration of their process and ideas moving forward.

Change Happens. How To Foster A Team That Not Only Survives, But Thrives.

The word “resilience” is popular right now. We’ve worn out “sustainability” and we want to build a business culture that helps our organization stay on the cutting edge. But how many of us think about what resilience really means? Here’s a definition for you:

Resilience: the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and re-organize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedbacks.
 
So, a resilient team can deal with the inevitable and ever-more-frequent changes we experience in life, and get back on track. But is simply getting back to where you were before what you want? Does this sound like an organization that is cutting edge? Isn’t there something more?!

I’m so glad you asked. There’s a brilliant guy named Nassim Nicholas Talib that wrote a little book called Antifragile. Now stay with me here, I see your eyes glazing over at some jargon-y, made-up business word. I promise you this one is worth thinking on. Antifragile is one of those books that is so packed with ideas that make my mind stretch, that I have to take a moment to process each paragraph I read. It’s awesome.

Talib describes the essence of antifragile as the following:

Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better (pp. 433-435).

See what I mean? That is an INCREDIBLY POWERFUL idea. Change hits, and instead of somehow making it back to the way things were before, your team actually improves? Yes, please.

So how can you create a culture of antifragility?

It takes intentional work. Central to building a high-functioning team is good communication. Regular, transparent and open communication nurtures trust, and creates a positive feedback loop of good communication.

Feeling like you’re in a communication rut with your team? Three words for you: Draw. It. Out.

Using drawings, especially simple ones, is a phenomenally useful and fun tool to build a culture of great communication and antifragility. Doodling complex ideas helps you clarify what’s most important and simplify the ideas to more easily explain to others. Inviting other team members to collaborate with you and share what they’re seeing opens eyes to new perspectives, new connections, and create a sense of shared ownership of ideas, which leads to a higher likelihood of action. Even if it looks messy, it’s about the process. It’s about sharing ideas and working together. Then being able to refine and share your story so that when sh*t gets real, everyone knows what the vision is, and feels the confidence to move toward antifragility.

Partnering with a graphic recorder can help you take a step back, think critically about the situation, and give your notes an extra pop of drawing expertise. Or, if you're itching to take the reins (ahem, markers) yourself, getting personalized training from a visual creativity coach can help you take your ideas to the next level. 

Click on the image below to see the larger version.

What do you think about antifragile? Come on over to the blog and share in the comments 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


You don’t have to be an artist to draw out your ideas, but it’s pretty fun to work with one. If you’d like to bring me on for your next event or work with me one-on-one to improve your skills to draw out ideas, let me know by clicking that nice button down there.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Next week I'm headed to Salt Lake City to help them create a visual summary map of what they've been hearing in 1 1/2 years of outreach around ending homelessness in SLC. This drawing is something they can use to help the group is build on what the City has heard from the community, rather than repeating what they know already.