GRAPHIC RECORDING | What, how, who & why?

Blog post by Sarah Ahmad

Hello there! 

So, one of my favourite jobs right now is to be a graphic recorder at events. It's a pretty niche job and some people don't quite understand what it really is, but that's okay because here I am, wanting to share my understanding and experience so far with you! So here goes.

Graphic recording during the Leadership Workshop at Ardoch House with Iriss, Imagining the Future and leaders from the NHS, 26 January 2017

 

SO, WHAT EXACTLY IS GRAPHIC RECORDING?

Simply put, graphic recording is the real-time visual note-taking of ideas and stories of knowledgeable and experienced individuals during any event likes meetings, group discussions, conferences and workshops! It involves a lot of words, images and tons of colours, to reflect the conversations happening at that very moment.

So my recipe is:

1 x Illustration/drawing skills
1 x 150% level of concentration
1 x Note-taking at 100mph
1 x Skillful multi-tasking
20 x Colourful marker pens
1 / 10 x BIG pieces of paper
1 x An amazing topic, issue or strategy that everyone will be pumped up about!

Discussions and knowledge-sharing taking place about how to seamlessly enforce leadership within social services through trust, accountability and team responsibilities, 26 January 2017

Discussions and knowledge-sharing taking place about how to seamlessly enforce leadership within social services through trust, accountability and team responsibilities, 26 January 2017

 

HOW DO YOU DO GRAPHIC RECORDING?

Essentially, it's drawing on a big piece of paper while listening to conversations unfold! But there're certain elements that play huge roles in it too.

A big chunk of it is the ability to multi-task. While I was doing a graphic recording job the other day for Iriss, I was listening to people speak, observing their emotions, connecting and arranging the themes that emerge, drawing up metaphors, highlighting key words, while also remembering to photograph the event! 

The second chunk of it is a huge level of concentration. You have to be able to really listen to people, to remember their emotions, to understand the flow of their journey and experience, and convey that onto your visual notes. It takes quite a bit of mental capacity, and I'm usually quite tired after a full days worth of work, but it's very rewarding when you see the end results and all the graphics put together!

And lastly, you have to be able to draw! Or have the curiosity to learn how to. Drawing is the skill that physically communicates the ideas and thought processes that materialises during a very energetic and enthusiastic discussion! It's about capturing that and expressing it.

A view of the graphic recording done for Iriss, Imagining the Future and the NHS, 26 January 2017

A view of the graphic recording done for Iriss, Imagining the Future and the NHS, 26 January 2017

 

WHO CAN USE GRAPHICS RECORDING THOUGH?

So far, I've worked mostly alongside researchers and social workers, because they use the graphic recordings as visual evidence and data collection. It's a way to reflect upon the events and interviews they've had with others, and align facts with experiences. But from my understanding, this skill set can be applied to absolutely anyone at an event like:

1) Charities and non-profits
2) Community groups
3) Academics and universities
4) The government and public sector
5) Architects and urban planners
6) Small businesses
7) Media and communication
8) And of course, DESIGNERS (like me!)

The final graphic recordings from the Leadership Workshop, 26 January 2017

 

BUT WHY GRAPHIC RECORDING?

Why? Because graphic recording is a sincere and fair way to gather diverse perspectives into a large, complete visual format that everyone can see and identify with. People think visually, so graphic recording makes sense of the cluster of information contributed by the collectively experienced and well-rounded group, and provides a tangible memory of the discussions that have taken place. This can be shared with others as a guideline to developing more concepts, strategic plans and frameworks.

The BENEFITS include :

1) Envisioning the invisible opinions and ideas that surface during zealous discussions
2) Exhibiting the BIGGER PICTURE of topics being discussed and the overall reflection of a complete group contribution in one large visual
3) Communicating the quality of the conversation, and how the exchange of ideas flow
4) A colourful display of all the valuable contributions and a huge sense of participation and fulfilment when members of the group identify their insights on the visualisation
5) A more engaging and fun response from members of the group!


I LOVE graphic recording, and I absolutely love working with people who are curious and earnest about it, who are able to see the benefits of it and who can utilise it for their own team or organisation. It's in fact, an amazing method to compile peoples' many perspectives and experiences, and putting them into one big visual narrative.

Anyway, that's me! Thanks for reading. If you have any opinions or questions about it, do leave a comment! We'd love to know what the rest of the world thinks about graphic recording!

If you're interested in these services, feel free to contact us and we can discuss details! 

Signing off,

Sarah