Graphic recording at your event

Graphic recording or scribing is a fun and engaging way to capture key ideas, insights and debates at events, meetings or workshops. The participants get a memorable visual record of the event and the illustrations also provide a discussion point.

If it’s an open event like a conference they are also an excellent way to spread the word about the event online. Event cartoons have real viral potential. I’ve seen event cartoons make the rounds online for years!

We are based in London, UK, but are happy to travel.

Poster(s) or sketchnotes? Or both?

systems thinking cartoon

Example of a typical sketchnote: only one idea/theme per image. Posters have a lot more  info on one page.

There are couple of different ways to do graphic recording: we can either do one (or several) posters summing up the event or a theme. Or sketchnotes that are individual thematic illustrations – there are usually 10-30 per event. We can then compile the sketchnotes into presentations (PowerPoint), slideshows, infographics or booklets (or all of those). They can also form the basis of a summary poster – there is no need to choose if you want both!

Why sketchnotes? You can capture a LOT more! A poster is always a compromise – some interesting detail will have to be left out (and the most engaging content has detail!).

The process

I (Virpi) prefer to do sketchnotes on a tablet and then, if need be, use them as a basis for a more polished summary poster (or other format like booklet or PPT). I will usually produce the summary poster after the event when I can organise the information better and redraw some things better. My colleague Veronica, however, prefers to work on one big paper poster at the event and then, if need be, polish up the drawing the next day.

A dash of humour, anyone?

company culture clash cartoon

Our approach to event scribing or sketchnoting is that of an intelligent observer with a sense of humour. We don’t want to do run of the mill visuals – no-one remembers those. (Caveat: schematic, less cartoony visuals are a good tool in graphic facilitation though).

We want our visuals to be something you would want to share with a colleague, boss, client or other stakeholder. Something you could stick into a PowerPoint presentation, stick on the wall in a cafeteria, slip into your new employees’ welcome pack or take to a meeting.

This means we have an “editorial/storytelling” mindset – it’s not enough to just capture bits and bobs here and there. You have to be able to put all those illustrations together in a way that forms a coherent whole.

Questions to you

Before coming to your event we need to know couple of things.

1. Graphic facilitation or graphic recording?

If you want the illustrator to facilitate a meeting or a workshop (i.e. steer the discussion) it’s called graphic facilitation. This is different from graphic recording which is “just” capturing what is being said without interacting with the audience. An important difference.

2. Is it a performance or is it ok to scribe quietly in the background?

A key question to think about before hiring a graphic recorder is to decide whether it’s important for people to be able to see the artist drawing? If so, there is a performance element to the graphic recording: we then need to think about logistics and coordinating things with the speaker(s). Or is it actually more important to get a good visual summary of the event? In that case the scribes can work at the back of the room on their iPads (or on paper).

3. One or several graphic recorders?

We can send a team of scribes or just one. If you have several breakout sessions or you have several conference tracks running parallel then several graphic recorders is a better choice (if you want to capture them all that is).

4. Do you need a shareable summary piece?

After the event we can also produce a visual summary of key ideas shared at the event in the form of an infographic, PowerPoint presentation, poster or a booklet. Here’s an example of a multi day conference condensed into an infographic and here is a an example of a visual interpretation of a keynote speech. This is something you might want to consider if it’s important that the summary piece captures the attention and makes sense to people who were not at the event.

Confused? Don’t worry – we’ll go through all the options with you :).

Drop a line to info(at) to discuss

Contact us

Blog posts about scribing