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2017 Trends in Graphic Recording: year end wrap up

It’s time for the annual wrap-up from some of my closest graphic facilitation and graphic recording colleagues.

Last year, we shared what we noticed about about human nature or communication (because we’re at hundreds of meetings!). This year, the questions are a little harder. Consider the work of visual practitioners we admire: how do they work? What are they doing differently? What do we notice? Secondly, what’s the one thing the field of visual practice needs to do next – but is avoiding?

Here’s why these questions are important.

When people see a beautiful graphic recording image, they’ll often say to us, “that’s so pretty”. Which is very kind, but at the same time – what if it’s a pretty picture of the wrong conversation?

The visual practice field has matured enough to look beyond the “pretty” in our work. It’s great to congratulate each other on a job well done, but we also need to make more room for the critical, the intangible, and the process behind our work – as a way for our industry to challenge itself and effectively grow. Making space for this conversation will help us meet our challenges head-on. Let’s talk about process and not just the end product.

This year’s questions were inspired by Julie Gieseke and Anthony Weeks, and I’m looking forward to hearing your additions in the comments.


“I admire practitioners who are working on bringing visual tools and methods to industries and fields that we don’t (yet) think of as visual to transform how work gets done.

“I see that the field needs to be less self congratulatory. Not all graphic Recording is helpful or “amazing”! We need to really ask how and where we can really bring value to clients.”  

– Nevada Lane – Lane Change Consulting


“I admire practitioners who are delving deeper into their practice, asking hard questions about the value of our work, what it means to partner effectively with our clients, how our work fits into large frameworks of complexity and systems thinking, and how we can truly serve organizational and social transformation. These are the questions that are working me right now, and I gain nourishment from others who are further along the road that I am.”   

– Avril Orloff – http://outsidethelines.ca/


“Professionalism is important in our field — professionalism in how we position graphic facilitation / recording, in how we present ourselves at events, and in how we contract / license our work. Another layer to this is encouraging each other to develop expertise in certain industries, types of events, or formats.

“I admire colleagues who are carving out niches and exploring new ways of applying graphics rather than one-size-fits-all. This pushes our industry to innovate and evolve!”

– Tanya Gadsby – Drawing Out Ideas


“As the field expands I admire professionals who are strategic about what organizations they reduce rates for, particularly those thinking of what they want to do in their own future work. There should always be a rationale for a rate lower than the local average.

“I see that the field needs to really encourage creative new approaches, dialogic processes, methods, materials and facilitators from new places, so that distinctiveness of each of our works is a priority. We ourselves need to de-privilege the pretty and embrace the ugly so that our clients are more likely to.”

– Aaron Johannes – Imagine a Circle


“I admire practitioners who put listening, service, synthesis, and clarity at the center of their work. Yes, I love beauty. Yes, I love imagination. Yes, I love technical proficiency in drawing…AND it’s NOT all about the beauty of the picture or image. It’s about the utility and meaning-making of the image. The field, as a whole, needs to get more honest about what we value.”

– Anthony Weeks @weeksonian


“I admire practitioners who are delving into new areas that can benefit from graphic facilitation. For example, I’ve seen some interesting work with family mediation, mapping a personal journey, life coaching, and working with at-risk youth. There are so many ways that we can inject some creativity and connectedness within these conversations, and I think the opportunities are endless.”

– Liisa Sorsa – Think Link Graphics


“I admire the practitioners who have long-term relationships with trusted clients, and want to see the field grow in this direction. Not all visual practitioners are interchangeable – and we shouldn’t pretend we are, even if our handwriting matches. When we reach out for feedback about the images from the group and don’t hear anything – or if they just say things look ‘amazing’ – what we’re missing is trust. Everything changes for the better when it’s a two-way relationship.”

– Sam Bradd, Drawing Change


“I admire practitioners who are working on the legitimization for our profession. We provide a valuable service that clients are still learning to discern. Educating our clients about the value we bring to groups can be challenging and the more white papers, studies, and well-researched and thought out articles help justify why every meeting should include a visual practitioner. Developing the science and “academics” behind it is a step towards true legitimization and I am deeply grateful to those individuals.”

– Sunshine Benbelkacem – That Girl Shines


“I admire practitioners who engage in self reflection to deepen, stretch and improve their work on all levels. Not just drawing & lettering, but in their listening, in being present, in questioning their assumptions and biases. And in showing up authentically, being open to learning.”

– Emily Shepard – The Graphic Distillery


“In our fast-paced, complex world, it’s no coincidence the field of visual practitioners has grown. Something we’re avoiding is finding our story as a collective visual field. What’s our vision? What values do we share? Should EUVIZ and IFVP join forces? As a Professional Coach, a similar conversation happened that resulted in the creation of the International Coaching Federation. I hope our visual field can find our collective vision too.”

–  Yiely Ho


“I admire people who are thought partners for their clients and consider themselves designers that deliver an experience, as opposed to a vendor that delivers a service. I also admire people who are looking at the outer edges of our practice and thinking about what’s next for us as a field, particularly with the rapid advent of tech tools (Jamboard by Google, hand drawn sketch animation software, drag and drop apps, etc.) that will inevitably “replace” some of the work we do.

“I would like to see our field place equal collective value on work that demonstrates deep listening in service to a group and its process as it does on highly illustrative drawing.”

– Giselle Chow – Giselle Chow Consulting


Let’s continue these conversations into 2018, not just online but also in real life! Two ways we can do this are: meet up with me at the EuViz conference in Denmark this July 31 – August 2, 2018, or consider joining Sophia Liang and I for the Beyond the Basics workshop February 11 – 13, 2018 in Portland.

In the meantime, a happy and healthy holiday time to you and yours!

Make an impact with visual thinking! Foundational course in Graphic Recording and Graphic Facilitation - October 28 & 29, 2017 in Vancouver Canada

2017 Graphic Recording and Facilitation Training in Vancouver, Canada

There’s no shortage of information anymore. Even when we have all the data and people in the room, it doesn’t always add up to a great meeting. What’s missing are people who can help groups make sense of information and tools to help people feel heard. This is the moment where visual thinking tools – such as graphic recording and graphic facilitation – have impact.  

Invest in your meeting skills with this two-day foundational course in Graphic Recording and Graphic Facilitation – October 28 & 29, 2017. Register here.

When we see visual process work in action, what happens is our eyes, ears, mind and heart begin to make connections. When that happens, we listen more deeply. We care more deeply. The seeds of action start to take root. When we see our words and thoughts expressed in front of us – live – we are pulled deeper into what is happening in the room.

drawing change graphic recording facilitation workshop vancouver bc with sam bradd

Graphic recorders and graphic facilitators use listening and drawing skills to help groups reach a deeper understanding. Graphic recording is not “just” doodling: graphic recorders use visuals to create alignment, engagement, and solve problems. And now you can too.

graphic recording workshop vancouver BC
Graphic recording workshop with Fostering Change BC and Amanda Fenton | photo courtesy of Yumi and Vancouver Foundation team, 2017


  • Expand your leadership tool-box with visual superpowers
  • Elevate your ability to include diverse voices in meetings
  • Develop your capacity to distill information
  • Sharpen your tools to have more effective meetings
  • Teach the visuals you need to improve group engagement
  • Hone your creative thinking and problem solving skills
  • Explore visuals as a key tool for systems change
graphic recording workshop sam bradd


Day 1 Graphic Recording & Facilitation Workshop Highlights:

  • Understanding the field: graphic recording and graphic facilitation
  • Work big! Learn how to use space on a big scale
  • Build your visual vocabulary: simple icons to make an impact
  • Hand lettering: how to master one of the biggest trends of 2017
  • Lettering: ways to bring your flip charts to the next level
  • Listening: even more important than drawing. Listening for story and synthesis
  • Putting it all together: Understanding layouts
  • Time for hands-on practice
  • Resources for your success
  • Visual tools for facilitating different meetings, in addition to graphic recording:  templates, timelines, photo-based tools, and other contexts

Day 2 Graphic Recording & Facilitation Workshop Highlights

    • Introducing the new “9-part model for reflection” custom designed for visual practitioners
    • Visual processes: choosing the right visual processes for strategic planning, coaching, curriculum development, and more
    • Case studies: graphic recording skills for listening and drawing live and graphic facilitation opportunities
    • Building your business: how to develop your capacity for visual thinking within an organization and as a consultant
    • Opportunity for participants to co-create part of the agenda, focussing on conversations about visuals and diversity, visuals and conflict, and what is important to you
Register here:


This two-day investment will be highly participatory and hands-on. We are all creative, and importantly – we are most creative when we feel supported and accepted. Participants in this class will build a brave space to take risks and learn together – while supporting each other in reawakening our creativity!


This highly participatory graphic recording workshop is intended for facilitators, educators, managers, and innovators – anyone who finds themselves working with groups (isn’t that everyone?).

As part of your work, you might spend a significant amount of your time in meetings or working with people who have competing demands. In those meetings, you might have wondered, “What is this meeting about? Is this the best use of my skills and my talents?” At Drawing Change, we’ve spent many years in these meetings. We’ve learned there can be a better way.

graphic recording workshop - vancouver BC
Photo credit Josh Berson


Visual thinking, graphic recording, and graphic facilitation works with groups from two into the hundreds.

Here are some ideas where graphic recording/facilitation skills are useful:

  • Transforming a mission/vision statement into a visual
  • Strategic planning session off-site
  • Getting what’s in your head onto the page
  • When you need to iterate, prototype, and test ideas
  • Small brainstorming meetings
  • Keynote speakers, so everyone has a reminder of their words
  • Customer or client journey mapping to describe a user experience
  • Capturing group discussions during World Cafes
  • Translating an anonymous suggestion box into a summary visual
  • And on a smaller scale, visuals can be a great reminder of individual coaching sessions or feed-forward sessions
  • Taking personal sketchnotes during meetings that you want to back to teams afterwards… Not just file in a corner!
graphic recording workshop vancouver BC
Graphic Facilitation Example During a Conference

In this class, you will learn how to connect ideas, listen and create visual summaries, as well as develop other visual tools for meetings and events.

sam bradd holding up a creativity planner visual template
Creative Mornings with Sam Bradd | Photo credit – Rob Shaer robshaer.com


You don’t need to be a super-sketcher to be able to communicate visually. If you’ve ever drawn two overlapping circles to explain something, you’re already using visual thinking. This workshop will enhance how you connect ideas, listen and create visual summaries for meetings and events.

Do you want a hand writing a compelling letter to your employer, asking for professional development funding? Here’s our tips!

PDF download: Drawing Change_How to get your employer to invest in you and your graphic training

This investment aims to push the boundaries of what you do and where you want to go. And I promise you don’t need to be a super-drawer.


Sam Bradd

Hi! I’m Sam, the owner of Drawing Change – a graphic recording and facilitation agency in western Canada. I work internationally and edited an anthology for visual practitioners, called Drawn Together for Visual Practice.

During the past 15 years, I’ve been fortunate to work with leaders around the world, including the World Health Organization, Google, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, various Fortune 500 companies, as well as Indigenous and public sector organizations.

sam bradd graphic facilitation creative mornings speaker
Photo credit Aura Mckay

Drawing on my experience and my Masters in Education from the University of British Columbia, I want to share my experience with both new practitioners and skilled colleagues. In my mission to help groups use visuals for better engagement, this workshop will amplify your leadership. I’ve taught graphic recording, sketchnoting, and facilitation classes to a wide range of participants – from city councillors, staff in the social impact sector, and young people.

This course will be joined by Drawing Change Associates, Tiaré Jung or Michelle Buchholz. Michelle and Tiaré have been graphic recording with Drawing Change, using their listening and drawing skills to support groups for a better world.

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/graphic-recording-and-facilitation-training-in-vancouver-canada-registration-36701150128

graphic recording workshop vancouver special kitWHAT YOU GET

Participants will go home with a Graphic Recording kit worth $100, plus an additional exclusive Neuland® Ambassador Marker Kit gift.

  • Two full days of instruction
  • Catered lunch, as well as morning and afternoon coffee breaks for both days
  • Templates, handouts, a book of icons, tools for practice, and a list of favourite books and resources –  Valued at $100
  • 30 minutes of coaching from Sam afterwards
  • PLUS participants receive an exclusive Neuland® Ambassador gift 
  • Opportunity for additional graphic or business development coaching
  • A new network of visual practitioners to support your learning and development after the coursegraphic recording graphic facilitation book drawn together through visual practice sam bradd brandy agerbeck kelvy bird and jennifer shepherd
towards mastery visual practice workshop with sophia liang
Towards Mastery Visual Practice Workshop with Sophia Liang – and Folks from 7 Countries!

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/graphic-recording-and-facilitation-training-in-vancouver-canada-registration-36701150128

Do I need to be able to draw?
Nope! Just bring yourself and a willingness to be creative in a group setting.

What are the course dates and times?
Saturday October 28 and  Sunday October 29, 2017. Doors open at 8:30 am, workshop begins at 9:00 am, and ends at 4:00 pm. Stay tuned for detailed logistics. We will take great care of out of town guests.

Where’s the workshop?
Creekside Community Centre is a beautiful venue with a full wall of windows, wood panelled walls, and lots of natural light. Creekside Community Centre is a central hub on the edge of Vancouver’s Seawall.

Our workshop will be located at 1 Athletes Way, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. More logistics and details will be provided to participants.

Remind me what’s included?

  • Two full days of instruction 
  • Catered lunch, as well as morning and afternoon coffee breaks for both days
  • Templates, handouts, a book of icons, tools for practice, and a list of favourite books and resources –  Valued at $100
  • 30 minutes of coaching from Sam afterwards
  • PLUS participants receive an exclusive Neuland® Ambassador gift
  • Opportunity for additional graphic or business development coaching packages – more details soon
  • A new network of visual practitioners to support your learning and development after the course!

You’ll be able to start using your new skills right away!

How many spots are available?
20 Spots are open and previous drawing experience is not required

graphic recording workshop vancouver

How much does it Cost?

  • Early Bird Rate $1300 Canadian + GST until September 15th
  • Regular Rate $1500 Canadan + GST, September 16th onward
  • 2 spaces for Community Youth Scholar Rate $300 + GST (see below)

*Payment plan options available by request. Please contact hello@drawingchange.com.

Curious what other graphic recording workshops cost? I made a chart. And, this workshop is in Canadian dollars, so if you’re American, you can take advantage of extra savings!

Community Youth Scholars – FILLED!
There are two community spaces available for young people, with priority given to self-identified BIPOC youth. These spaces are at $300 to cover the cost of room and food, and I will donate supplies and other costs. If you would like to apply for a community scholar space in this workshop, please send hello@drawingchange.com a short paragraph describing why you’re interested and what organization / movement you’re part of to share these skills afterwards. We will collect names and then select two people by September 15th, so it’s not first-come-first-served. Youth scholars will receive a full supply kit, and there’s no volunteering expectations. (Profiles on the Community Scholars coming soon!)

What’s the refund policy?
We will happily refund the cost minus a $300 processing fee. If you wish to receive a refund, please send us a written request by email before midnight October 1, 2017. Please note we are unable to process refunds October 2nd and after, however, we can transfer your registration fee to another person at no additional cost.  

Can I update my registration information?
Absolutely! Send us an email and we will be happy to update your information. Please contact Drawing Change at hello@drawingchange.com

Is my registration fee transferable?
We are happy to transfer your registration to another participant. Please contact Drawing Change at hello@drawingchange.com

I have more questions. How do I get in touch with you?
We’d love to hear from you! Please contact Drawing Change at hello@drawingchange.com

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/graphic-recording-and-facilitation-training-in-vancouver-canada-registration-36701150128

The “Towards Mastery Workshop” with Sophia Liang for practitioners with 3+ years experience returns in February 2018 this time in Portland Oregon…visit this page for details!

Custom trainings by request – fantastic for youth / educators, the social impact sector, and off-site sessions. I’ve trained hundreds of people and can’t wait to meet you!

graphic recording and facilitation workshop

rockwood leadership theory of change

Rockwood Leadership Institute new Theory of Change

The Rockwood Leadership Institute rocked my world. So visualizing their new, expanded model of change was super inspiring!


The Rockwood leadership and staff team worked with me to find metaphors that would support this new vision. Each person contributed something to the garden – bees, vegetables, flowers – and we worked to make sure the root systems also had life and were thriving. After all, it’s not just what we see on the surface that is our strength.

This was created with watercolour and then with digital text and drawing in white using a Cintiq tablet.

🎨Read more about Open Access Rockwood:
https://rockwoodleadership.org/vision-future-rockwood/, starting with Darlene’s letter that speaks powerfully and personally to how Rockwood changes lives:

“Dear Friends,

In 2009, I was a participant in Rockwood’s Leading from the Inside Out Yearlong Fellowship. As a black, gender-nonconforming woman from one of the poorer neighborhoods in DC, I was touched and surprised by how much of the program resonated with me. It was as though I found my home, my language of leadership, and a path of support and encouragement that I hadn’t known before. Through this path, I have been able to stretch, grow, and continue saying “yes” to bringing my authentic self to my work and life….”

I highly encourage folks to apply for fellowships or programs, and their free newsletter is a great resource.

🌎 For example – the Tequity Fellowship (basically free!) – “leadership development at the intersection of progressive social movements and technology”

🌿 This is co-taught by the amazing Suzanne Hawkes and Michael Bell

Thanks Rockwood for the opportunity to collaborate! For more Rockwood visuals, here’s a set of sketchnotes from the Art of Leadership.

graphic recording tiare jung drawing change for cbc radio food bank forum

Guest post: Tiare Jung for Drawing Change

Today, I’m thrilled to bring you a guest post by emerging graphic recorder Tiaré Jung. Tiaré has been working on fantastic projects with Drawing Change this year. Enjoy these insights into graphic recording as a tool for change! – Sam

Tiaré Jung

In 2016, I was thrilled to begin working with Drawing Change as a graphic recorder, with Sam Bradd as my mentor. I have worked as a facilitator and graphic artist for 7+ years and it is exciting to combine these skills to offer a dynamic tool.

In this guest post, I will share a few samples about how I use graphic recording: I make images that draw connections between people and ideas. I’ve noticed that reflecting group processes, right in front of people, enables individuals to better build off the group energy and feel excited about the impact of their work. I also like to work with clients to create images for their meetings. Instead of drawing live with graphic recording, I work in my studio to create posters. This gives the client an engaging framework and also helps them meet their goals.

A sample of highlights from 2016 include capturing a panel discussion for CBC Radio 1, engaging community members at a City of Edmonton’s open house consultation, and preparing a poster for the Elizabeth Fry Society to orient staff.

Panel Discussion with CBC Radio: live graphic recording


graphic recording tiare jung drawing change for cbc radio food bank forum
by Tiaré Jung for Drawing Change

CBC Radio 1 recently hosted their 30th annual food bank drive. Since 2008, food bank use in British Columbia has risen by 30%. CBC Radio hosted a panel discussion with a government representative, community members, and professionals who work in food banks, food security, and poverty reduction. The panel addressed, “how does such a wealthy province come to have 99 food banks,” and what changes would end poverty and increase quality of life for all British Columbians.

And, CBC Radio made a timelapse video:


My role was to reflect a variety of perspectives from the panelists. The moderator asked a question, I listened to the panelists respond and organized their ideas on my 7 foot by 4 foot poster. I created a visual map that follows the non-linear conversation to create transparency and understanding of a complex issue. The CBC featured my work online and in this video.

Public Consultation with City of Edmonton

graphic recording tiare jung city of edmonton coliseum
by Tiaré Jung for Drawing Change

The Coliseum in Edmonton is the former home of hockey championship games, rich with the nostalgia of the Edmonton Oilers and their victories. With a new hockey arena in Rogers Place, the Coliseum is open for repurposing. The City hosted a consultation to explore diverse community needs and desires. 


Tiaré Jung for Drawing Change

After participants visited different stations prompting them to imagine what the new Coliseum could be used for, they arrive at my canvas. Myself and a collaborator from the City of Edmonton asked, what is your vision for the Coliseum? We prompted community members to imagine the possibilities, and grouped their responses with other sets of common values. The graphic recording summarizes how they might use the space. When participants view the entire canvas, they can resonate with others’ ideas, or see different interests. The  image is a mural of ideas and a summary of visioning and next steps.

Elizabeth Fry Society: Training Poster, drawn in studio

graphic recording for EFry society tiare jung drawing change
by Tiaré Jung for Drawing Change

The Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver (EFry) provides support for socially excluded women and girls faced with poverty, homelessness, and addiction. To meet a gap of resources, EFry is designing a site in Surrey that will include shelters, housing, and health care services. I created this poster to interface between the women and children being served and the health care providers training to support them. The women were invited to participate in a consultation. Using the feedback they provided in the consultation, I created a poster to train and orient healthcare staff to the experiences, needs, and desires of their clients. Health care professionals have the opportunity to learn about their clients and approach their work with context and cultural sensitivity.  I featured women with brown skin and a variety of radicalized features based on the knowledge that over 1/3 of the clients are Aboriginal. The poster is a platform for those whose voices are marginalized to share stories, while protecting their confidentiality and vulnerability.

I’m excited about 2017, and what new graphic recording projects are ahead! Do you think images could help your event or project? Get in touch with Drawing Change at drawingchange.com. 


Graphic Recording is truly global

In 2016, I saw the power of graphic recording and graphic facilitation around the world first-hand. Visuals help people connect, find belonging, and work on urgent problems. And visuals are now a global approach.

In Tanzania, I worked for three days in a tent with zoonotic disease researchers:


graphic recording one health tanzania zoonoses sam bradd

And it was a good thing I learned a lot about rabies and One Health, because the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) invited me for graphic recording in Bangkok, Thailand for a conference on veterinarian education:

OIE Conference on Veterinarian Education graphic recording sam bradd

The visuals at the conference, with 180 delegates from 90 countries, were a huge hit on social media and online afterwards. Thailand was stunning (and delicious):


I returned to Geneva to work with the World Health Organization for a second time, this time about Yellow Fever. 

world health organization graphic recording sam bradd geneva

The urgent discussion was so inspiring, that I gladly donated a custom graphic recording illustration to the Global Health and Diplomacy magazine on a related topic.

global health and security graphic recording global health and diplomacy magazine image sam bradd

And then joined the OIE for the 4th Annual conference on animal welfare in Guadalajara, Mexico.

“After three days of fruitful discussions, the 430 participants of the 4th OIE Global Conference on Animal welfare representing more than 100 countries have endorsed a range of recommendations:”


graphic recording images OIE  OIE-Animal-Welfare-Draft-Recommendations

We wanted these graphic recording posters to stand out from the June session, so I created a different icon for each session:

graphic recording one health sam bradd one welfare

Not the usual weather for me at Christmas!

It’s a true privilege to be able to go where I’m needed. I also spent a lot of time this year working closely with Indigenous organizations across Turtle Island. From Tl’etinqox territories to Fort William First Nation, I heard and visualized stories of resilience, wellness, economic development, and reconciliation in the justice system.



As a white person working with Indigenous communities, working in partnership and capacity building is important to me, and so I’m teaching and mentoring this year.  Read more about my approach to visuals using cultural safety in this 4-part blog series, in our book on Visual Practice.

graphic recording graphic facilitation book drawn together through visual practice sam bradd brandy agerbeck kelvy bird and jennifer shepherd

And speaking of our new book – it’s out in the world now! We’ve shipped it to all sorts of far-flung places, which is exciting, and it’s started many conversations which is even more exciting. With 27 chapters and 25 contributors, it was a great opportunity to gather with colleagues online and in person, advance the graphic facilitation field, and spread visual thinking even further.

This new global collaboration by Gestalten on graphic recording looks fantastic:


Visuals help people tap into their creativity, too. People email me photos of the first time they drew during a work meeting from halfway around the world, and also share their students’ projects (thank you twitter). I love seeing what inspires you.

Can’t wait to see what 2017 brings for our visual practitioner community!


strategic planning illustration visuals for the YMCA

Illustrations for the YMCA’s strategic plan

YMCA illustrated strategic plan visuals illustration Here’s a great idea to make your strategic plan an evergreen document – make sure people see it every day! I created these illustrations for the YMCA of Greater Vancouver‘s strategic plan, and then Signi Solmundson (VP Marketing and Communications) creatively printed them on a planter, so people could centre the strategic plan plan right on their desk.

The project: Demonstrate the Y’s strategic plan for 2015-2017 to community, stakeholders, and leaders.

The solution: Unique illustrations for the 2015-2017 strategic plan, including a hand-lettered diagram, custom vector illustrations, and icons.

The result: A truly evergreen document that fosters engagement. The illustrations have just enough detail that you can see something new each time – encouraging people to look at the images and poster, pick up the report, and return to the concepts over and over.

The drawing process: Folks are usually curious about my process, so I thought I’d share. When I work live doing graphic recording, I always use paper and markers. But in-studio I have more options, including digital tools. I’ve always wanted to bring watercolour and infographic-like design together, and this project gave me just the right opportunity I wanted. The hand lettering was drawn digitally, and the watercolour background was done by hand. The digital illustrations were drawn directly into the computer using my Wacom tablet.

Read more

Trending- better conference design and visual facilitation

I want you to have better meetings. I’ve noticed a trend for better engagement at conferences, and want this idea to spread. Instead of back-to-back powerpoint presentations where people have to sit and listen for hours, it’s popular to have is a 15 – 30 minute TED-talk presentation followed by pairs or small groups talking about a focussed question. It creates a high energy buzz in a short amount of time with pairs or group work. Graphic recording is another great addition, and it’s important to make choices about what your specific event needs.

Engage participants, don't ask them to sit for a full morning
Engage participants, don’t ask them to sit for a full morning

Trend: shorter presentations plus reflection

Shorter presentations plus visuals keep people focused. We don’t lose the impact of the presentations, and importantly, participants don’t lose the opportunity to connect with each other. And you’re not standing between people and their lunch. It’s very simple: after a presentation give people a chance to reflect. Ask them to turn to the person next to them and share their first impressions for 5-6 minutes. The room will buzz with many conversations, bringing the energy up. Alternatively, small groups can be great for diving deeper, between 15-30 minutes depending on the question. Group work questions can be a simple ‘what now what next’ reflective question or a chance to explore challenges and opportunities. If you do need an open mic, which at their worst can be off-topic completely, starting off the room with a focussed question works better.


graphic recording choices for keynotes
There’s at least three choices about graphic recording keynotes

Graphic recording Choices

As a facilitator and graphic recorder, I always ask the teams I work with what will work best for them after the meeting. We need to design with their needs in mind, not what will look best for a poster. It’s process over product for me.

Here’s a sample of how I make choices about graphically recording keynotes and group report outs. I can record the keynote on the left, and leave space on the right-hand side for questions from the audience. This highlights how the audience responded to the presentation. The second way is to use a separate poster for the question-and-answer. Be prepared to work fast – but it keeps the integrity of the presentation on one page so there’s a full record of what the keynote said, which is great for a high profile speaker. The third way is to record the keynote and then weave in any extra key insights into the existing image, deepening the context as needed. Some events benefit where the audience can see how their points directly connect to the speaker’s ideas.

Will the report out be used as part of strategic planning? There may gems in choosing to capture a more detailed report out. Sometimes the Q&A session is best captured in a different format – often by note taking at tables (or using visual templates), and including this information on the poster is not as useful.

As a graphic facilitator, I’ve designed agendas and seen these techniques succeed at internal strategic planning sessions, cross-government collaborations, and conferences. However you visually capture the information, it’s about choices – and always about engaging the people in the room!

Catching up: recent graphic facilitation projects

Pumpkin lattes are back, my sandals are away, so I should have written this a month ago. Here’s a quick recap where graphic facilitation has recently improved meetings and processes in the health, government, education and non-profit sectors.

And although I don’t blog about every project, you can definitely count on me to tweet daily. Happily, I realized I could use twitter to fill in some graphic facilitation highlights. I went through my twitter photos and here’s a sample of what happened:

– Designed and facilitated the first retreat for the new Centre for Indigenous Studies at the University of British Columbia. I heard powerful stories about the value and impact of research that’s accountable to community.

graphic facilitation in action - room with visual explorer cards on the wall

– Graphic recording at the Farm Folk City Folk strategic planning session with staff and board – a extra little pro bono work resulted in tickets to their annual fundraiser at Feast of Fields! Yum! Eating is my favourite.

– Patient Journey map for Reciprocal Consulting and the First Nations Health Authority. First, I facilitated a staff engagement that mapped out the learnings from a program evaluation process. Then, I transformed this draft/live map into a final graphic that was used along with their report.

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– Co-facilitation with Suzanne Hawkes of a 3-day Health Equity forum for queer, trans, and two-spirit people in BC. The work is towards building Collective Impact. My biggest takeaway is how the foundation of any of this work has to be about trust. Because “progress happens at the speed of trust”.

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And what else ….

– Canadian Union of Public Employees BC (CUPE BC) Think Tank conference. Graphic recording keynotes, designing group work and building in a gallery walk of the graphic recordings to make this event as interactive as possible.

City of Vancouver invitation-only events about Renewable Cities and a research dialogue. Hearing a room full of people working on a warm summer night, talking about renewable energy really does good things for one’s heart. And hope.

– New coaching clients (for graphic recording) demonstrating how positive reinforcement and practice really pays off. Amazing improvements!


Talk soon!