In my most recent public project, I used graphic recording to transform a full day of workshops about vicarious trauma, moral distress, family attachment and mental health into visuals that participants can return to again and again. Graphic recording works because it makes dense information clearer. People see connections, gain clarity into dense information, and can review the information later.
If you’ve ever felt burnout, here’s a message of hope: “Honour resilience, go forward with your work, and never doubt its progress,” said Dr Karen Grant during the keynote at the Vulnerable Immigrant Population Program (VIPP) Training Day. People who support refugees and vulnerable newcomers love their jobs despite many funding challenges. Still, they can feel burnt out, helpless, alone, or guilty that they can’t do more. But Dr Grant didn’t have a message of despair, she had a message of resilience. We can thrive in the context of moral distress if we look to the sector as a whole and see how the sector takes action together.
I make careful choices in the layout – my goal is to “follow the group.”
First the planning team and I decide what will support the group best: what sessions need visual facilitation? Can it help problem solving? What themes do we want to support? Should we record specific sessions so everyone can share in the documentation afterwards?
We decided I would capture the keynote, and follow key presenters into different breakout rooms, then I would present a summary at the end.
For the keynote, I talked with the keynote presenter Dr Grant and knew that she wanted to set the stage for current context but not dwell on it – the important part of the keynote was about the reframing. So, I left plenty of space for this part.
I don’t often go in with prescribed templates. What if the presentation changes, for one. Or what if the metaphor falls flat: I’ve seen sessions where the planning team wanted to use a soup metaphor but the large group decided that a tree is better. For this keynote, in my mind I pictured a transformational journey with a road. The journey metaphor echoes the physical and emotional distances that refugees and immigrants travel to Canada. On this road, the broken hearts of moral distress (on the left) are transformed into hearts of hope (on the right). I was ready with my road, but willing to change it at a moment’s notice. Happily, the powerpoint had a picture of the classic “two roads diverged in the woods” so I knew I was on the right track.
You’ll see that the keynote has a road representing a journey, and the other posters from the breakout presentations use a spatial /diagram layout. During the breakout sessions, I follow the group too in how I listen. I’m asking myself key questions: how can I listen and link this presentation back to the main themes? Where are we going today? What are the key ideas? How can I pace my graphic recording so it matches the beginning, middle and end of the presentation (tip: powerpoint presentations are notorious for not getting to the main point until the last few slides).
At the end of the day, we all came back into the main room and I shared the images with the conference participants. I walked them through the key points from the breakout sessions, asking for feedback and other people to share what they noticed. By the end of a full day, we had 5 x 8-foot posters covering the walls all around us.
To me, these posters are visual signs of a day spent sharing knowledge between dedicated and compassionate colleagues.
Congrats on a successful Training Day!