Take Better Notes: A Beginner’s Guide to Graphic Recording

Have you ever seen a visualization like this one?

Example of Graphic Recording
Image credit: See Your Words

Be careful not to confuse this sketch with an infographic, which is designed to distill information in a quick and simple way – much like a blog post.

Graphic recordings, while similar in appearance, actually serve a completely different purpose – one that’s extremely significant for any workplace.

Before we get into that, let’s quickly go over the idea behind graphic recording.

What is graphic recording?

A graphic recording is a visual representation of a meeting or discussion. The artist creates it during the meeting, as people are speaking, on a whiteboard or large flip chart.

The artist captures spoken word and turns it into something visual.

Outcomes vs. Outputs

Graphic recordings are most often used in the corporate environment, such as in large meetings or presentations.

(An infographic, in comparison, distills already captured information into a more digestible, consumer-friendly format.)

Why should you care about graphic recording?

Graphic recording, or graphic facilitation, is a fantastic tool. Once you’ve seen a graphic facilitator in action, you will wonder how you ever accomplished anything without him (or her).

Here are a few benefits of graphic recording:

Increased engagement

Are you tired of people using their cell phones during meetings? Do you use your phone during meetings? Wait… are you reading THIS during a meeting? Tisk tisk.

Everyone knows that smart phones are a huge problem for meetings. Most of us are completely addicted to our phones and, whether or not we are looking at work related material, they definitely distract us from the matter at hand.

See also: 5 Data Visualization Blogs You Will Fall In Love With

According to Atlassian, it takes an average of 16 minutes for us to refocus after handling incoming email. No wonder half of us consider meetings a complete waste of time.

One of the best ways to combat the tyranny of meetings is with graphic recording.

Not only is it incredible to watch, but it’s collaborative. Everyone can throw ideas at the graphic facilitator and see them visualized in a simple, colorful, and powerful way.

Fewer people on their phones. Fewer people taking notes. More people listening. More people communicating. That’s the power of graphic facilitation.

Increased Memory

Have you ever finished a meeting and realized that you were only listening to half of what was said? Maybe you don’t remember anything at all? If you’re the boss, maybe this doesn’t happen often. But there’s a good chance this is happening to your employees.

We all know that pictures stick better than words. There’s actually a name for this, it’s called the Picture Superiority Effect. People are way more likely to remember information when it’s been presented in a visual format.

When they collaborate in the creation of that visualization, such as in a graphic recording, the effect is compounded.


We love to facilitate this sort of collaboration everyday in our office, on site with clients, and at events like DC EXCOMM.

A secret of great musicians is to practice immediately after a lesson. Most wait a bit, thinking that since they just had a lesson, practice can come later. This is a mistake.

Immediately recalling something from you memory is like adding rebar to your brain. (You know, rebar, the metal bars they put in concrete to make it a million times stronger.)

When we recall and analyze things immediately after we learn them, our memory increases exponentially.

Graphic recordings allow us to recall entire meetings immediately without getting bogged down in tedious meeting notes.

Reflection & Shared Outcomes

The average employee attends 62 meetings a month. How do you categorize all of that information? How do you separate and distinguish each meeting?

With graphic recording, you don’t have to. Each meeting will have a beautiful drawing, one that tells the entire story of what was said.

The best part? It’s super shareable (and share worthy).

Let’s say someone couldn’t make the meeting.

Sure, you can send over the meeting notes. But how many people are actually going to read through those? And not to mention, notes are completely hidden from the group and dependent on the notetaker.

A graphic facilitator is much more efficient because they won’t miss anything.

It’s collaborative. Everyone contributes. It tells a complete story.

Plus it’s fun to look at!

Where can you find someone to do it?

It takes a special kind of person to create graphic recordings. These people aren’t just artists – they are storytellers, craftsmen, and facilitators. They often function as consultants, mediators, and advisors.

In short, graphic recording isn’t a task for your assistant who has a knack for drawing. You’ll want to hire a professional.

An Example of Graphic Recording
Image credit: See Your Words

Finding an individual or firm that provides this service isn’t hard. A quick google search for “Graphic Facilitation Your City” will do the trick. One trait to look for in a graphic facilitator is industry experience.

If they speak the lingo, is will help to keep everyone on the same page. Some companies have gone as far as to hire or train internal graphic facilitators, a practice we definitely recommend.

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