I’m struck time and again by the impact the iPad has had on peoples’ lives and businesses. My friend’s disabled mother, for example, has, for the first time, been able to send her daughter email thanks to the simplicity of the iPad. Long-haul plane travel has completely changed for my family thanks to the endless game, drawing and video options for our two young children on the iPad (hallelujah!).
The iPad has also opened up a whole new world for graphic recorders. Drawing apps like Sketchbook Pro and Brushes have enabled us to digitally capture conversations or presentations in real-time. Here’s one example of a sketch I did recently of a lecture by Daniel Kahneman (you can see more examples in our Portfolio):
Digital graphic recording has a number of benefits:
- Set up is simple compared to traditional pen-and-large-paper recording. The recorder doesn’t need much space or any materials aside from the iPad and a stylus
- It’s fast and easy to share final, crisp images with meeting attendees or anyone else around the world. Sketch –> Tweet!
- You can integrate digital graphic recording into your virtual meetings to keep remote attendees engaged
That said, if your purpose is to create understanding and commitment in a group of people that leads to positive change, nothing beats large-scale, pen and paper graphic recording. Digital recording, while fun, is my Plan B for when traditional recording isn’t possible or practical.
I’ve also been using digital drawings with clients who want a graphic that summarizes the outcome of a meeting so they can share those outcomes with stakeholders. Recently I facilitated a one-day visioning workshop with a team of software marketers. We created a couple of large charts during the meeting that they wanted to combine into a single summary graphic. I knew there would be multiple iterations and that they were only going to use the graphic as part of a PowerPoint presentation or attached to an email, so a digital sketch made sense. We ended up editing the graphic 4 or 5 times, which was easy using Sketchbook Pro, and ended up with a graphic they were very happy with.
The iPad has also made animators out of many graphic recorders. You are probably familiar with the many RSA Animate videos on YouTube that are done on whiteboard. These are wonderfully engaging, but quite expensive to produce. The Brushes app on the iPad allows you to create an animation out of any drawing at a fraction of the cost of the whiteboard videos because you don’t need fancy lighting, green screens or a lot of post-production work. (If you want to incorporate audio, you do need to record your audio separately and then sync the audio file and the animation file using iMovie or similar video editing software.)
Here’s an example of a short animated sketch I did for a friend and former colleague, Kathryn Santana Goldman, to support her coaching practice (she’s a great executive coach, by the way). I’m finding that clients like the hand-drawn, accessible feel of the animations particularly for internal communications and training programs. I’m intrigued to see how else people will use animated sketches for sharing ideas moving forward.
There is no replacing the magic of traditional graphic recording. As a meeting attendee, there’s nothing like seeing someone draw your ideas on a piece of paper, creating a whole from disparate parts. The iPad is simply an additional, amazingly elegant, tool in the graphic recorder toolbox.
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.