Graphic Recording – How does a professional visualize?
Imagine you’re giving an important presentation. Everything is going wonderfully, after all you are well prepared. You have thought the process through well and the PowerPoint slides are clear and understandable. But in the middle of her presentation someone suddenly reaches out and asks you to illustrate the last sentences in order to explain them better. Unprepared and spontaneous.
Would you sweat a little?
Probably, and that’s absolutely understandable. You didn’t reckon with it and didn’t think in advance how of all things this one fact could be visualized. Of course, that puts you under a lot of pressure now …
For a graphic recorder this is the proverbial daily bread. Every illustrator who works as a live draughtsman at an event is thrown into the cold water in this way again and again. That’s what makes Graphic Recording so appealing – you never know what the result will be at the end of the day.
I regularly stand in front of an empty white poster at events and know that in a few hours it will be literally overflowing with information and pictures. I don’t know what the graphic recording will look like. After all, the information I rely on is often only generated on site. For example at a workshop. That’s super exciting, but always makes you a little nervous. One wonders: What if I can’t think of anything clever? What if I don’t understand what is being discussed? What if I approach the screen layout incorrectly and draw too quickly or the wrong thing?
Such doubts are part of this job. A certain nervousness also ensures that you stay focused and give your best. So I’ve gotten used to it by now. Nevertheless, there is always the fear that I won’t come up with suitable pictures on certain subtopics. Even though this fear has always turned out to be unfounded for me … And maybe you wonder how I do it. How do I manage to turn spoken sentences into a picture in a short time and record it on a poster or iPad?
It’s not that easy to explain! I really had to sit down before writing this article and figure out how to do it. Meanwhile I know that the process can be fixed at two points: “routine” and “text becomes image”.
Logical: The more live drawing I do, the more routine I have. After some time, I realized that many events often have the same points. These are, for example: Ideas and innovation, customer focus, trust or leadership by example. Such keywords appear again and again in presentations. And, of course, over time you will also know which images are best suited for this purpose.
“Ideas and innovation” is a perfect example … I’m sure you can come up with a suitable picture. What is it? Exactly, a light bulb! Of course there would be other pictures that would also fit, but a light bulb is a well-known synonym for ideas in our culture. So why not use something like that for a graphic recording? I also often use the same image for the keyword “trust”, namely two mountaineers who have to rely on each other.
I could give you many more such examples.
2. Text becomes image
It is much more difficult to visualize facts that do not occur again and again. This actually makes up the majority of graphic recording. I have got used to distilling the information first in my head. Whole sections become single keywords or short sentences. I then record these directly as keywords on the poster, and as I write, the creative motor in my head runs at full speed. It is well known that creativity is stimulated when you paint. And that’s how it works when I capture text on the poster. It is much more difficult to simply do nothing and wait for a flash of inspiration before the empty poster than to come up with an idea directly by writing.
So while I’m “painting” words on the poster, more or less matching pictures go through my head, and I just have to weigh which one I’m best at.
Let’s take another example here: the CEO of a large company is giving a lecture on digitization. He talks about the fact that certain processes will be completely digital in the near future. To do this, I record “processes = digital” on the poster, and as the image I choose gears that mesh with each other and a tablet PC that is connected to the gears by rectangular lines.
I can remember that the first time I drew live, the whole thing wasn’t so easy for me. It’s clear that experience also plays an important role in the 2nd point – the more you practice this visualization, the easier it is for you and you also become more courageous when it comes to ideas. So give it a try. It will be worth it, I am convinced!
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