LICK THE PLATE CLEAN: 5 Tips to get the most out of your Graphic Recorder

June 5, 2016

How to get the most out of your GR_header

As the world of Graphic Recording broadens, and more and more industries and events are cottoning on to this great tool, I thought it would be useful to share some tips on how to get the most value out of your Graphic Recorder.


1. Know where Graphic Recording is most useful

GR is a truly wonderful and powerful tool when used correctly. If used in an inappropriate setting however, it’s value can be compromised… And that’s no good for the client or the GR!

Your GR should be able to inform you of whether your event is suited to Graphic Recording, but here are some pointers to start with:

Places GR really shines include (but is not limited to):

– Conferences / Forums / Summits / etc

– Big picture, ‘visioning’ workshops

– High level strategy planning

– Community engagement

– Planning workshops

and it’s great for capturing:

– Presentations

– Panel discussions

– Debrief conversations / summaries

– Facilitated group conversations

Here are some places GR doesn’t work so well:

– Detailed, task-focused workshops

– Detailed report outs

If a piece of work is too detailed or task-focussed, the high-level snapshot that GRs are so great at becomes irrelevant, and probably impossible.

The other important distinction is between a ‘report out’ and a ‘debrief’. When working in breakout groups then coming back to share your work, the usefulness of GR really depends on how this is done.

Report outs:

A report out refers to a member or members of each breakout group reporting back their work to the wider group.

If it is simply reading out a long list from a flipchart, this is not the best place for a GR capture – it will just be replicating what your participants have already captured.

However, if your groups are instructed to report back just their top three big ideas and flesh each out a little, this would be an appropriate place to use GR.


Ending an activity with a broader group debrief conversation (e.g. what surprised you? what were the big ideas? what did you learn?) is an ideal place to utilise Graphic Recording. The flow of a conversation and linking themes between groups will lead to a rich cross-group snapshot illustration.

Both approaches are equally valuable, it just depends on what outcome you’re after.

2. Know why you want them there

There are many reasons to engage a GR, and usually they would be numerous for any given event. It’s a useful exercise to prioritise your reasons for using GR, as it may inform better ways to work on the day and recommendations for your deliverable. Here are some common reasons:

– To help people engage in the content on the day

– To help people reflect on the content during the day

– To help guide conversation

– To help participants interact and contribute

– To capture content & share with participants after the event

– To capture content & share with people not in attendance

– To create a visual / series of visuals with a specific purpose (e.g. a future vision to hand up in your office)

– A point of difference for your event

For example, if engaging and reflecting on the day is a higher priority we would put some time into considering where we’re placed in the room, how many people can see us, and how the work can be galleried throughout the day. If capturing content to share after the day is a higher priority, we’ll focus more on how to get the best deliverable.

3. Know what you’re going to do with the output, and let people know

Every event I work at, I will have numerous participants ask with some concern “Will we get copies of these? How do we see these after today? Is someone taking photos?”.

I always assure them that I am photographing everything, and it will come back to them in some shape or form, however it’s great to have a plan from the get go.

At a minimum, all the outputs from the event should be emailed to all the participants in attendance, or made available via your intranet / website.

There are plenty of other cool things you can do with them though, so think creatively! Here are some examples I’ve come up with, but have a chat to your friendly GR to see what might be suitable and relevant in your case.

– Email to all participants (and any other relevant peeps, e.g. the wider team or organisation, stakeholders or clients)

– Create a gallery on your website or intranet

– Make it into your team’s / organisation’s screensaver or desktop image

– Turn it into a Prezi

– Turn it into an interactive pdf with links to provide more detail

– Turn it into an animation with a voiceover

– Print as posters for your office

– Make into a wall decal or wall paper for your reception area or tea room

– Print on canvas

– Make into a calendar

– Create a booklet

– Create your own colouring book

– Use in your reports

– Use parts of images into prints, t-shirts or mugs

– Print onto mousepads

– Print as postcards

4. Share your agenda early

As GRs, we work at all sorts of events with all sort of clients all the time. Over time, we develop a good sense of how we can best support all the different elements of your event.

The earlier we can have a look at the agenda (even in it’s draft stage), the earlier we can work with you to make sure you get the most out of us on the day!

This could be considering where we are positioned, where to put the artwork at break times, any red flags, and any extra things we have in our box of tricks to make your event sing (e.g. we may be able to help with branding for your event, or have a great graphic template for an activity, or have a suggestion on how to visually enhance an element of the agenda).

5. Encourage people to engage with it

On the day of your event, make sure your facilitator or MC introduces the GR from the beginning and explains what they are doing and where participants will be able to access the output (or even better, have your GR explain it themselves!).

Encourage people throughout the day to go and have a look in the breaks, to take their own photos, and (if appropriate) to share them on social media or your internal social network as the day unfolds.


In general, Graphic Recorders are massive nerds for what we do. We love doing it, we love talking about it, we love working with our clients, and we love uncovering new ways of working to help make your events awesome.

There’s always more to discover. Make the most of your GR experience… go on – lick the plate clean!

Leave a Comment