Graphic recording: what it is, who does it and how to utilize it

What it is:

Graphic recording (also referred to as graphic facilitation or visual note taking) is the rendering of conversation, key points and ideation into images. The end result can be used across multiple mediums to visually communicate what was discussed in an effective way. Why is this beneficial?

Imagine you are attending a meeting and your team is in the first stage of conception. You are brainstorming ideas, weighing pros and cons, pinpointing what problem your end product is seeking to solve and determining your target market. There is a lot of information, ideas and data flowing. With a graphic recorder, the result of your meeting will look like this:


According to the Social Science Research Network, 65% of the population are visual learners. With a graphic recorder, the attendees of a meeting or members of an ideation team can take away an instant visual  that is easy to comprehend and retain, serves as a concise summation of what was discussed and creates a clear point from which to take the next step.

Who does it:

Successful graphic recording requires a high skill level and a lot of practice. Putting complex ideas together into a simple image and doing it in real time is physically and mentally challenging.

“You are translating things that took place 10-15 seconds in the past,” says graphic recorder Alysha Lach White. “And then you are also considering the rest of the composition in the area that you are working in.”

Lach White has been working as a freelance illustrator in West Michigan for eight years and started graphic recording two years ago. She was turned on to the concept by her mentor and husband, illustrator Kevin White.

“My first break in company–and continues to be a very regular client–is Amway,” says Lach White. “They are always looking for new ways to improve their product experience and the experience of their small business owners.”

She has also provided graphic recording for small business owners, nonprofits and business coaches.

Who uses it and how you can, too:  

Graphic recording has been a common practice on the east and west coasts for nearly 20 years and has long been utilized by powerhouse companies like Apple,Google and Disney. For startups and entrepreneurs, graphic recording can be a valuable element to employ early on.

“If they are working on a problem with their business or product and they have someone on hand to visualize that as it goes, and also compile a summary of the key points of what was talked about,” says Lach White. “They can refine that into a presentation to share with potential stakeholders or presentations for competitions. There are so many applications because instant visuals are kind of a rare commodity.”

Having an instant visual injects an element of strong design early on in conception process, eliminating the common disconnect between an idea and the execution of it. It also allows for immediate corrections, suggestions and the exploration of new ideas.

“There is a lot of glitz with the front end of design,” say Lach White. “With getting that right font or that right color pallet. That is all very important, but people tend to forget that design is a part of the whole process.”


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