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Graphics Get Results: Research Proves Effectiveness of Visual Recording

I recently graphically recorded the keynote and breakout sessions for a conference. Afterwards, a stream of participants came up to talk with me. They came to share how my illustrations impact them and thank me for helping them understand the presentations and discussions. It’s a nice perk of the job – one that frequently leads to a follow up question.

I think live graphics are great, but how do I convince my team?

“We have a meeting coming up and we need you there, but I’m not sure how I’d get the okay,” one of the women said to me. Although she was convinced that the information was way more engaging as a result of having live graphics, she wasn’t sure how to convey the value to her boss or team members.

The field of meeting graphics is expanding and maturing, but it’s still not as pervasive as traditional meeting methods. People worry about introducing a new technique and being held responsible for its effectiveness. The same thing goes for facilitator consultants who want to partner with a graphic recorder. Often times they instinctively know that live group graphics are effective, but they may not have experienced a visual meeting themselves. They don’t want to sell their clients on live graphics and then feel pressured to prove their value.

The good news is, as the field continues to grow, and more and more people use graphic recording and graphic facilitation in their meetings, the more experience we have that graphics get results. And now with an increasing number of research projects underway, there’s no need to worry about proving the value – the proof is in the research.

Currently, Evert Lindquist, Professor and Director at the School of Public Administration at the University of Victoria, is conducting research on the use of visualization methods in the life cycle of public policy development

Also, a colleague named Heidi Forbes-Öste, is conducting extended doctoral research to measure the value of visual meeting techniques in comparison to traditional meetings. The data coming in from around the globe so far shows that visual meetings are overwhelmingly more valuable to participants.

Over 16 countries are represented in the Forbes-Öste survey including Canada, the US, France, and the UK. At week 6, it looks like visual meetings are at least 80% more effective, but Heidi and her team are still bringing in information so these results are not final.

Forbes-Öste wants to gather global perspectives on how to improve meeting and learning environments for better decision making, so the more voices she hears the better.

Share your perspective on visual recording with the world.

If you’ve experienced a meeting led by a graphic facilitator and are interested in contributing your two cents to Heidi’s research, visit to watch an illustrated video then fill out a short survey. The entire process will take about 10 minutes and you’ll help us all better understand how to make meetings more efficient and effective for everyone.

I’m proud to support Heidi’s work and look forward to a lot more information on the great field of visual practice. So far, the research shows what I know with every fiber of my being: meetings led by a graphic facilitator are WAY better at engaging participants and encouraging interaction. The time has come for the field to begin exploring visual practice methods through formal research. What other kinds of visual practice would you like to see research on? Leave your comments below.


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