Waitwhat does the leafy seadragon have to do with artificial intelligence? I did a doubletake as I clicked through a Powerpoint deck I would use as the content source for an upcoming illustration project. Once again this year as part of Sibos, one of the world’s biggest annual financial services conferences, CN will be illustrating presentations for SWIFT Institute. And I will be art directing/illustrating a presentation for one of the brightest minds in AI, who is drawing an interesting connection to this wonderful little creature, the leafy seadragon, and its habitat. I’m very excited about this one.

Corporate and community events—workshops, conferences, all hands gatherings—require significant time, energy and commitment on the part of organizers and attendees to pull off. Once such events are undertaken, it is essential to expand their impact as much as possible. One extremely effective way to do that is by creating and distributing illustrated content to before, during, and after the event.

For example, for SWIFT Institute, we’re not only providing graphic recording in their sessions at Sibos in October. We’re developing single-frame illustrations of ten presentations in advance of the event. This will ensure that the content is impeccably curated and available to all, and will be readily available for the social media team as the sessions happen.

graphic recording facilitation scribing visual illustration business doodle scribes faciliator scribe creative meeting conference ideas question synthesis
(Here’s one of our illustrations for SWIFT from Sibos 2017, a talk by Ruth Wandhofer and Barbara Casu on the Future of Transaction Banking.)

In addition to offering traditional graphic recording (real-time illustrated capture of key ideas), we provide a multi-phase visual experience for our clients that serves to:

  • Ground and engage participants at the start of the event
  • Provide social-media friendly content to leverage throughout the session
  • Create artifacts that can be packaged as thank you gifts post-event

Here are a few ways llustrated content can help expand the impact of your event.

Before Your Event: Set Context with Pre-Illustrated Content
Showing participants where their meeting fits in a timeline of events helps participants better engage in the new content and experiences at hand. One effective means of doing this is through large-scale, visual stories, and journey maps. If your strategy workshop, annual conference, or all hands meeting is informed by months of research into customer satisfaction, employee engagement, or market analysis, there is power in locating your participants on this journey from the start. Consider working with a scribe in advance of the workshop to create illustrated posters or whiteboard walls that relay your findings in the form of a synthesized, visual story provides a clear and engaging way to build common understanding. You may opt to speak directly to these visuals as part of your kick-off and then display them as reminders of the context in which you are operating.

The process itself facilitates clarity for all. Not only are these visual stories powerful for participants, but the pre-work that the scribe and meeting sponsor engage in contributes to honing in on the objectives of the session and the key messages participants need to hear.

graphic recording facilitation scribing visual illustration business doodle scribes faciliator scribe creative meeting conference ideas question synthesis
(Our graphic facilitator created this illustration in advance of the session to help participants get to know each panelist.)

During Your Event: Socialize Your Key Messages
Real-time scribing is social media-friendly—it provides highlights of delightful, visually engaging, easily sharable content. Content emerges organically, as it is presented to the audience. A graphic recorder is creating the story of the lived experience of a session, as it happens.

And there are other very valuable ways to thoughtfully weave illustrated content into your event to enhance social media efforts.

  • Craft illustrated content specifically for social. Scribes and meeting organizers and/or members of the marketing team can partner to create a refined single scribed image (or set of images) that draws on the key ideas and imagery of the session and crafts into specific stories for social platforms.
  • Create an engaging event environment that inspires social sharing. Illustrated visuals can help create an event space that is more engaging to participants and drives. Consider creating walls illustrated with your key concepts in gathering places to provide Insta-worthy, content-rich focal points and backdrops.

graphic recording facilitation scribing visual illustration business doodle scribes faciliator scribe creative meeting conference ideas question synthesis
(Graphic recording created a focal point at this session and was shared by hundreds of participants.)

After Your Event: Say Thank You to Your Participants and Presenters
Graphic recording presents a unique opportunity to create meaningful thank you gifts for presenters and for your participant group as a whole.

  • Thank participants by equipping them with information. When event organizers follow up with a Thank You that includes digital images of graphic recording, participants have the event content at their fingertips. They’re ready to explain what they saw and learned, and convey the value of the event to others.
  • Give presenters a truly special gift.  Most speakers have never seen their content represented in an illustrated format. They are always looking for new ways to showcase their expertise, and this format delivers. Illustrated visuals from a keynote address or presentation can be provided to speakers gifts, as digital images or even framed prints.

graphic recording facilitation scribing visual illustration business doodle scribes faciliator scribe creative meeting conference ideas question synthesis
(Graphic recording is a unique way to say Thank You to presenters and equips them with new tools for sharing their content.)

A lot of time and resources go into any event that brings people together. Thinking holistically about how to heig­­­hten engagement, underscore key messages, and expand the impact of your event through the use of visual stories represents one way of ensuring that you make the most of the opportunity.

And the leafy seadragon? It is an awesome example of natural algorithms solving complex problems. Those algorithms are being studied and replicated by AI researchers, with astonishing results. To hear – and see! – more on this topic, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn as we share all of our illustrations and graphic recording from Sibos in Sydney, coming this October.

[Illustration at the top by Boston-based designer Monica Ross]