Visualizing The Message

Graphic recording from a live sessionHave you ever talked to someone on the phone who you have never met, and while you are speaking, you visualize what they might look like? How tall are they? What race are they? What part of the country did they come from? Are they intelligent or dull in understanding or … are they blonde? Brunette? Redhead?

Visualizations and judgments float through our head in an ever-flowing stream while we conduct business and discuss matters at hand without us even being aware of it of the formulating perceptions. We visualize everything that we hear by what we are already familiar with. Where we were brought up, what culture we were brought up in, what language we speak. We interpret and apply the knowledge based upon what we know and have experienced,  to the words that are being spoken.

When a speaker, teacher or facilitator gives information to a group of people, they run the very real risk of being misunderstood and later, when misrepresented by what the audience member heard – not what was said.

Working with a graphic recorder gives you the upper hand in formulating the perceptions and understanding of your audience members with the visuals that you want applied to your message. Speaking with your graphic artist before your workshop, seminar or speech will help both of you get on the same page so that the artist will understand what your expectations are.

Graphic recording is a very powerful tool. A graphic recorder draws in real time while the speaker is speaking. Audience members watch the artwork formulating instantly on screen, or on paper and their own visualizations take a back seat with new understanding about what is actually being said and how each piece fits in the whole picture.

If you like living dangerously and love surprises, you can trust your graphic recorder to draw instantly what you are saying – and then later identify key points or even misunderstandings if something strikingly different was portrayed. Most of the speakers I work with actually like this approach better because they are constantly amazed at the volume of information they deliver without even thinking about it – not just what was in their notes. 

This new perspective and vital tool helps not only your audience members to comprehend and remember what was spoken … and recall it in detail later … it helps you to understand as a speaker, your own clarity and articulation of the information you delivered.

Attendees can snap pictures of the artwork for later reference. In my case, the artwork goes home with the speaker or the sponsoring organization who hired the speaker. The benefit is that both will certainly have a digital copy to share or use on websites, in employee communications or on marketing materials.


What You Must Do, Before You Can Learn Learn How To Draw

Speakers and Trainers

When people ask me if I will teach them how to draw, an entire life time flashes before my eyes.  Years of refining and practicing, experimenting and erasing. Yet at the forefront of it all is one very clear skill set that I’ve found is not a common skill – even though most have it.

The ability to SEE!

“Of course I can teach you to draw,” I’ll reply, “But first, I have to teach you to SEE.” Without this ability, it is impossible to describe lines and perspectives, colors and shadows. Seeing is not just seeing, it is NOTICING.

A blind person who cannot see, probably sees more than the person who has this visual ability. A blind person notices. They notice various textures and temperatures of the surfaces they touch. The notice the width, the depth and the height — not just by touch, but by sound as well. 

A deaf friend of mine was standing with me in a church service and asked me if I could FEEL that.  I wasn’t sure what she was saying and as she placed her hands over hear stomach and heart she asked me again, “Can you FEEL the music?”  She wasn’t referring to the beat, or the sound. She wanted to know if I was physically present enough to feel the vibrations that surrounded us.

Suddenly I became aware that with each note that my ears heard, my body could feel a different intensity of vibration. The moment was frozen in time as I closed my eyes to concentrate more on what my body had been feeling all along.

My deaf friend is an artist too. She’s deeply aware of textures, colors and the beauty that surrounds us. She too, gets frustrated at what people do not notice. She too is driven to express what she sees, what she feels and what her heart hears in the pottery and mosaics that she creates with such love and patience.

It’s taken me a lifetime of seeing … of noticing … of hearing … of experiencing … and wondering … the beauty and the people around me.

All of these skills come into play when I’m graphic recording.  Millions of images, stories, metaphors and symbols flood my mind as I hear a speaker speak, and as I feel the energy of the room full of people who listen to the speaker’s words. 




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Illustrating You

Cartoons and Illustrations by Shannon ParishSome people are gifted with the ability to see what is not there. They SEE and listen in pictures, rich with metaphors, concepts and color – and in three dimensions.

A few of them will express what they see and hear through music and the vibrations of their varied musical instruments.

Others, like myself, will draw and capture visually what we hear and see, and through our drawings, we’ll transform simple, dull concepts and statistics into something that is alive and expressive and which carries with it, a fuller and richer meaning for others to grasp and understand.

For the audience who is watching me draw while they are digesting the spoken word or written word, have a much higher retention because move of their physical senses have been engaged.  Creating a visual experience that compliments and explains the message that is being presented or read, is invaluable to the reader or listener.

As it has been said, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”