Most people who attend my Introduction to Graphic Recording workshops don’t want to be professional graphic recorders. They come because they are interested in making their meetings or training events more visually engaging. They want to learn the principles of graphic recording and apply those skills to their current role. There are many simple ways of making your meetings more visually engaging using the underlying principles of graphic recording. Here are just a few:
1. Use the walls for things you don’t want people to forget
If you live in PowerPoint land (like most of us), think about what information you can pull out of your slides that would be useful for your audience to refer to throughout the meeting. Put that information onto a flipchart or a large piece of paper so you can refer to it throughout the meeting. Agendas, meetings objectives, or the key points of your presentation are great for putting on large paper and sticking to a wall for all to see.
2. Add some icons
What are the most common themes or concepts you talk about in your meetings? Communication? Alignment? Money? Time? Make a list of common topics and then think of an icon for each of those concepts that you can add to a flipchart to spice it up. Having a mental library of 5-6 icons is helpful and doable for most people. Here are some of the most common icons I use and what I use them to represent. I’ve kept the icons in black and white so you can see how simple the shapes really are (color and shading trick you into thinking the icon is harder to draw than it is.)
3. Create a meeting metaphor
Metaphors (both verbal and visual) are incredibly powerful because people remember them long after the meeting is finished. A training group I worked with started categorizing the level of service they could provide on any given project as Tall, Venti or Grande (a la Starbucks coffee serving sizes). They presented this metaphor to their internal customers in a visual way at an annual planning meeting and the customers completely embraced the metaphor. Suddenly the customers understood that they couldn’t get Grande service on every project (a message my client had been trying to deliver for months in other ways).
Think about the topic of your next meeting. Can you come up with a metaphor to summarize what you are trying to say? Is your company like a tiger in a cage? Is leaving your current supplier like being freed from a ball and chain? These are metaphors I heard more than a year ago and I still remember them and the context of the message.
Try to think of a simple graphic to represent the metaphor. I search Google images all the time to get ideas for new icons and visual metaphors.
4. Get your team drawing
Don’t take full responsibility for making your meeting visual. Get your colleagues in on the action by having them work in pairs or trios to draw a picture of what the successful completion of your project would look like or to create a picture that summarizes everything they just heard at yesterday’s leadership presentation.
5. Make it BIG and colorful
Part of the reason graphic recording has such an impact is simply the large scale of the paper (often 4-feet tall by 8- or 10-feet long) and the beautiful colors graphic recorders use. If you have a large, smooth wall to work on, try posting the largest sheet of paper you can find and ask your team to write their ideas for your next project on the paper (be sure to have lots of colored markers on hand). The result doesn’t need to look perfect – the homemade look is exactly what engages the viewer.
You don’t have to be an artist to make your meetings more visually engaging. Most of the ideas above, in fact, require little to no artistic skill. So use those flipcharts, try an icon or two, add some color or take it big – you’ll be amazed by the response.
Lane Change Consulting is a consultancy based in San Francisco specializing in graphic facilitation and team effectiveness. We design and facilitate strategic, collaborative conversations that create clarity, focus and engagement in organizations. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.