Learning graphic recording tips – in rhyming form

A few folks emailed last week with some overlapping advice for new graphic recorders. It’s wonderful to hear how the questions in the field are changing – people tend to ask me questions not about how to draw, but about how to approach the wall and the work. Here’s a summary of our chat – in rhyming form.

“Hi! I’m a new graphic recorder

And I have some questions,

I’m emailing a stranger

To help my next session.


When graphic recording,

Sam, how do you start?

There’s a lot of blank space

Is it planning or art?


Do you use pencil

Or scribe with your pen

I’ve seen you with post-its

Which is best, when?


To finish a poster

Do you work overnight?

To finish on time

How can I capture it right?


You make it look easy

But I think it’s quite skillful

Now that I’ve tried it

I’m hoping you’re helpful!”


And my response,

“Dear new graphic recorder,

Thanks for your note

I’d be happy to share

good practices to promote.


With graphic facilitation

The POP you can heed:

What is the Purpose,

The Outcome, Process, the need?


We lead with facilitation

More than nice pictures

Being strategic for the group

For me, is quite critical.


Yes, start a notebook

and practice new layouts

take field notes around you,

it helps artists stretch out.


You can emphasize all comments

Or some data or stories;

You could listen for themes

Or sort into categories.


The visuals should be visible

To guide conversation

But no groups are the same

Neither is your creation.


How can we harvest?

There’s not just one answer.

It could be a drawing, list, poem,

I guess even a dancer.


Don’t just show up and draw

The magic is the planning

Both in the content

And relationships you’re mapping.


A detailed template can be your friend

And so can blank paper:

It’s about choices – and

ensuring you’re not wallpaper.


Sometimes I use post-its

For grouping complex ideas

It’s only when I have lots of time

Or I have to spell proboscidea,


I prefer to work in real time

So participants can see –

But there might be one unique overnight

Where I synthesize with speed.


But if you’re brand new, dear colleague,

it’s really okay

To practice a bit slower

And not rush through a day;


Better to match up

your skills with the session

So everyone goes home

Impressed with our profession!”


There isn’t one answer to these questions, but I do feel strongly that graphic facilitators can be a trusted thought and facilitation partner in the room when we work to our highest potential. Help the people you are working with to be able to experience that!

Links you may enjoy: our next workshop is May Drawing Change Graphic Facilitation Workshop, May 11-12 (optional 3rd day):


I also recommend these series of questions, to help you contextualize the work- including AND beyond the artefacts we make: