The Rise of Visual Meetings

Some time ago I stumbled upon this post talking about how Olgivy partnered with ImageThink to deliver a new way of taking notes for events and effectively create a storyboard for what was discussed.

Visual Thinking is a growing trend in events.

Event planners are effectively hiring cartoonists that can capture conversations into easily digestible storyboards that can then be shared as what I call Proceedings 2.0 of a conference.

The Benefits of Visual Thinking

Twitter and tools such as Storify are currently used to sum up digital conversations during events. Nonetheless there is still a growing need to really organize thoughts and get to a conclusion of what was discussed. We need actionable items and sometimes social media alone can still be fragmented.

Visual Thinking is a fantastic way to achieve that, for the benefit of both attendees and remote audiences.

In order to learn more I caught up with Chris Shipton, Cartoonist, Graphic Recoder, Live Illustrator and co-founder of Livescribes. I asked him a few questions on how Visual Thinking can be applied to conferences and meetings, making them become effectively Visual Meetings.

Q: What is Livescribes about?

A: Livescribes are a group of artists who use drawing to help business. We use highly visual techniques to stimulate creative thinking. Our main competitor is powerpoint and we are fighting the inertia it can bring! Meetings & events can benefit from the engagement drawing creates in participants. This work is ‘Visual Thinking’.

Q: What is Visual Thinking?

A: ‘Visual Thinking’ stimulates right side of the brain, the part which processes visual and spatial relationships. By incorporating visuals into work processes we are simply using more of the participants brains! David Sibbet in his excellent book ‘Visual Meetings’ states visualisation is worth 80 IQ points. But it also relies on the logical left side of the brain, it is an integrated and structured methodology.

Q: How Do You Use Drawing?

A: We might use drawing in many different circumstances. It is often very useful to use rapid fire cartoon style drawings as part of an ‘ideation’ process. Basically we draw peoples ideas as they come up with them. This is known as ‘Live Illustration’.

We also use ‘Graphic Recording’ which is a way of capturing what is said in a meeting or at an event. You may have seen the amazing RSA Animate Youtube videos which really are a perfect demonstration of the art. But we do it live as it happens, and we recently did this at the TEDx Oxford event creating 10 illustrations for 10 speakers as diverse as Vidal Sassoon and Kevin Warwick.

While the first two methods rely on a facilitator or an event to fire the work the other thing we do is ‘Graphic Facilitation’. It is actually possible to facilitate and draw at the same time, in my opinion. And this can be a somewhat controversial view amongst facilitators! But if it is highly structured, as exemplified by the excellent Gamestorming book or the fascinating work of Dan Roam, it can be done.

We recently had an amazing success implementing these techniques at an event in the UK where we implemented a ‘Low Tech Social Network’ (which will hopefully be written up on the gogamestorming blog soon enough) Update: Here it is.

Q: How would this work at an event?

A: Our next ambition is to implement this at a large event, on an enormous scale, with the biggest drawing wall possible. So if anyone has a big space available let us know! The wonderful thing about this line of work is that when you are drawing you are responding not only to what the speakers say, but the participants say too. It is highly interactive and evolves over time.

The visuals can have the power to stimulate ideas at the time, but they also work as a great record of the event. The other thing is it is always different, you never know what will happen!

In Conclusion

Chris will show you how to make sense of fragmentation in a strip of comics starting tomorrow dedicated to the event industry that he is kindly donating to the blog. You will see how powerful this is in action.

I believe Visual Meetings are the way forward in an overloaded, over-fragmented, over-stimulated event world. Let me know what your experience is and feel free to reach to Chris if you have any question.