What Is Graphic Recording? A Quick Guide

December 21, 2017

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ImageThink graphic recording and graphic facilitating

What Is Graphic Recording?

Graphic recording is the real-time translation of conversations or presentations into text and pictures. Graphic recorders do three things simultaneously: they listen for key ideas, synthesize them, and document them in visual form.  Oftentimes captured with marker on large scale boards or paper, graphic recording gives meeting and conference attendees an opportunity to absorb content on a visual level.

An experienced graphic recorder uses visual facilitation to reinforce the speaker’s content, clarify complex problems, and organize collective ideas.

The end result is a visual map of key insights that can be reflected on and shared post event.

Benefits of Graphic Recording

In a presentation, graphic recording increases engagement and memory-retention for the audience. Many people are visual learners, and studies indicate that people remember more information when combined with visuals than via spoken word alone.

During a brainstorm or strategy session, a skilled graphic recorder will synthesize all of the group’s contributions into a coherent visual while revealing connections between ideas that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. This promotes creative thinking, collaboration and deeper engagement by capturing everyone’s contributions and creating a literal collective vision.

At a tradeshow or conference, graphic recording adds a human element to branding, marketing, and booth design. It engages participants and can illustrate their voices while capturing leveragable insights and ideas.

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ImageThink graphic recorder Derrick Dent captures key insights, analog-style.

What medium do graphic recorders and graphic facilitators use?

Graphic recording can be done on any large scale surface. Whether captured on foamcore whiteboards, bond paper, or digitally, graphic recording identifies and clarifies complex ideas by giving them a visual form.

When captured on foamcore or paper, graphic recording can be displayed in an on-site gallery, or at evening cocktail receptions. They are oftentimes hung in office spaces as a reminder of the ideas uncovered and the commitments made during the event day. Once the session is finished, analog graphic recording is often digitized for reference after the event, ensuring that the big ideas live on.


Our graphic recording services work either on-site or virtually

Digital graphic recording makes a big impact for larger audiences.

Digital graphic recording offers an alternative to analog materials, creating sleek visuals that can be projected at any scale. It is a perfect solution for large audiences, and can be shown in multiple rooms simultaneously.

Digital graphic recording has the added advantage of being instantly shareable on social media, so that content can be leveraged in immediate online conversations.

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Because there are no official certifications for graphic recording, it’s important what to look for when choosing who will support your session.

Graphic Recorder training and qualifications

Graphic recording is much more than a pretty picture. While drawing skill, composition and visual fluency are required, graphic recorders and graphic facilitators are not simply artists in meetings. Graphic recording is a profession and an advanced skill.

Currently there is no institution that offers formal education or certification to become a graphic recorder or graphic facilitator.  This leaves prospective clients with little formal guidance when evaluating the experience and expertise of the practitioner.  Graphic recording rates vary from practitioner to practitioner, and also may depend on event type.  However, there are a few things to look out for when choosing your graphic recorder to ensure the best experience and result.

An experienced graphic recorder is an excellent multitasker, fluid thinker, high level synthesizer and visual problem solver. A seasoned graphic recorder possesses knowledge of multiple industries, business environments, cultures and behavioral and organizational psychologies, and design thinking.

A graphic recorder employs active listening and real-time synthesis, and must recognize and map key ideas into a mind-map or visual metaphor that clarifies the flow of information.  

ImageThink’s professional graphic recording team consists of full-time employees. Every ImageThinker has completed hundreds of hours of our immersive training in order to build the skills necessary to synthesize  and visualize ideas in real-time.

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ImageThink graphic recorders Nora Herting and Derrick Dent facilitated discussion at Cannes Lions Health, 2017.

What Is Graphic Facilitation?

Whereas graphic recording focuses on capturing and organizing information in a visual format, graphic facilitation takes a more active approach in shaping and leading a group conversation. A graphic facilitator might employ pre-populated templates like mind-maps or customer journeys to guide a discussion and ensure that crucial topics are addressed.

Even when in a graphic recording role, our staff collaborates closely with event facilitators to fit seamlessly into the conversation.


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To ensure the best experience for your meeting, know what questions to ask your graphic recorder.

6 Questions to ask when hiring a graphic recording artist

  1. What is their experience and background? Unlike many other professional services and consultants, there is no formal educational training or certifications for graphic recording. Be sure you are hiring an experienced practitioner with a reputable list of past clients.
  2. What types of events are they capable of supporting? Graphic recording should always be tailored to the specific event and its unique objectives, which can vary considerably. Are you holding a brainstorm session where conversation is open, unstructured, and fast moving? A rehearsed keynote presentation that has been nailed down beat by beat? Make sure your graphic recorder has skillset to support your session type.

  3. What is included in their fee? Pricing structures vary. Be sure to inquire how they bill. Is it a day rate or hourly charge? Are materials and travel additional? What about the digital versions of the images?

  4. Who will be working onsite? The majority of graphic recording artists are solo practitioners, and oftentimes will subcontract to other individuals. Be sure you know who will actually be supporting your event, including their level of experience in graphic recording and your industry.

  5. What is the real scope of the engagement? An experienced graphic recorder or graphic facilitator will work with you during the planning phases of your agenda. They should offer expert guidance in how best to integrate their graphics into your meeting in a way that supports your meeting objectives, rather than acting as mere entertainment. Other questions to clarify scope include: Will they also provide logistic support in arranging material delivery and shipment of the finished work? How long after the event will you receive the digital deliverables
  6. What business liability insurance do they carry? Most sessions are highly confidential, oftentimes pertaining to business strategies or trade secrets. For your protection, be sure whomever you are speaking to is bonded and insured, and is willing to sign a NDA.
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Graphic recording can activate event spaces, as it did at SXSW.

Ready to picture your big ideas?

Whether you’re prepping your next big brainstorm, planning a conference, or designing an eye-catching tradeshow booth, ImageThink is here to help. From infographics to graphic recording, we’re ready to picture your big ideas and jumpstart creative problem-solving. Now that you know what graphic recording is, learn more about or services, or contact our account manager today.