Hi, my name is Beate Riefer, I’m a User Experience Designer at the Design & Co-Innovation Center at SAP and one of my skills is graphical recording. I would like to share my story about becoming a graphical recorder with you.
What is Graphical Recording?
Graphical – also called visual – recording is a technique to capture content of a meeting or workshop in a graphical way. Instead of writing long documents during a meeting a graphical recorder draws one or several pictures of the meeting.
Although it takes more effort than a classical protocol, the graphics support structuring and connecting the content. Also the graphics normally end up at the walls of team rooms so everybody can have a look and talk about the content and not in drawers or share folders where nobody will ever read them.
That is a rough definition. My first impression when I saw a graphical recording was “wow… how amazing… I want to do that, too!”
Drawing the Right Picture, in the Right Space, at the Right Time
I’m an interaction and concept designer at the Design & Co-Innovation Center at SAP and was always connected to drawing. So the first step to start with graphical recording was already done. I knew how a pen looks like and how to use it for drawing. But I asked myself: ”How do you start such a recording?” The first time I saw the result of a graphical recording I thought the recorders were geniuses. They would draw the right picture at the moment they hear the content and knew exactly how much space it takes and how to arrange everything on the sheet perfectly – and I didn’t even know how to start.
As practice I started to draw little recordings of team meetings and calls instead the usual bullet point lists with doodles around but it got frustrating quite quickly. I always thought I would end up with too much text and no graphics at all, not to mention the chaos on the page with text getting smaller and smaller to fit the box.
Luckily there are colleagues at SAP who are graphical recorders. Also YouTube is always a good friend if you want to learn something new. After a few hours of research, watching other graphical recorders how they work and how they prepare, I got a lot of tips and tricks and I started off again.
Tricks & Tips to Get Started!
These are the tricks which helped me the most:
- Talk to the people upfront to get to know the content (no graphical recorder starts a recording without having an idea of what will come)
- Plan your content. You know how big the canvas is and roughly how much content will come. Make some sketches and test the space.
- Basic shapes are your friend. It does not need to be a fancy comic style. Stick figures, arrows, and blocks are fine.
- Collect your visual language and practice it. I now know some standard figures I always use., i.e. an arrow or a simple figure with various attributes. If I have a recording of a certain topic, e.g. electricity, I google some elements like power lines and practice drawing them. I take these sketches with me to the recording session as a reference.
- Cheating is fine. As soon as I hang up my canvas I structure it with a pencil so I know beforehand how much space I have for the content. This does not work all the time but it helps a lot.
- When it comes to complicated figures like company logos I draw helplines with a pencil and erase them afterwards.
- Practice! And even more practice!
I’ve just started with graphical recording and have done four graphical recordings so far. I’ve been improving my graphic recording skills and am still curious about the topic. Each one is getting better and better and I’m looking forward to the next one. What about you? What are your experiences with graphical recording? Any tricks you can share and add to my list? Let me know about your experiences and contact me at Beate.Riefer@sap.com or simply give feedback in the comments section below.