Who’s Your Audience?

Over the past few weeks I have closely looked at various styles of recording to prepare myself for a major upcoming event. In the course of reviewing various other graphic recordings, it has come to my attention that style is one aspect, but audience focus is quite another. The level of detail and clarity of information varies from personal to a complete detached audience. Some visuals seem unsure who they are trying to speak to or hope is viewing.

To achieve the task of graphic recording, I believe it is critical to know how far along the involvement path your visual is targeted to reach. Is your task for personal visual note-taking and noting details that are important to you, tasked to capture details that participants will value or recording for an unseen detached audience for later viewing?

Audience Focus

How I see along the path of viewers which guides my level of communication:


This a personal viewer point.


This is a one-on-one or very small group where the content of the recording is created with much interaction with the recorder. .


This audience level may have little interaction with the recorder, but may see the action of recording as part of the event. The value of the content should focus on the collective group and all collaborative information.


This audience is a larger group that may or not be present during the recording, but are aware of the event and its content. Piece is more for recall of highlights and key topics.

The Aware:

These are viewers are in the “know” about the source and may follow a topic or presenter and have not attended the event where the recording was originated, but are searching for insights to key topics.

Mass Market:

Any viewer that may view the recording. May not be familiar with the source from which the content originated

Defining Style

As the calendar moves from 2012 into 2013, I took a moment to reflect on all the changes in my life, work and achievements. Many things have changed over this last year, many that affected my view of communication. The biggest impact has been in my visual thinking style. Which events or interactions may have influenced my style is unclear, but I have noticed that my style has become more illustrative and storytelling in my canvases. I have migrated away from the more technical diagramming format and more to the graphic illustration of pen and ink. Possibly because of my background in art and architecture. Whatever the reason it has led to a question of style; what are the various formats and how do they differ?

Before we can define the various styles, a description of the key elements must be expressed. These two elements will define the framework that will help outline the various styles of recording. In any process of visual recording, graphic scribing and even graphic facilitation, the process focuses on two key elements at work; content capturing and presentation format.

Content Capturing:

Content is that which is communicated or presented within a session. It is the conversations and ideas that are shared by participants and facilitator. As the recorder, one must decide which content will be capture and to what level of detail to create the best impact and convey the best idea or ideas. Capturing can be as simple as high level ideas or as detailed as verbatim. At this point, it is the role of the recorder to decide how accurately content is recorded. Is it to be precise or interpreted?

Presentation Format:

Format of presenting is the manner of how the recorder chooses to convey the content. As the conduit from conversation to document, the recorder chooses a format that best compliments the content. This presentation format can range from very technical in design to that of a highly creative or artsy in nature.

Pure technical conveys information in predefined formats with less fluidity in the imagery, rather uses consistent images patterns such as flow charts, spreadsheets, graphs and diagrams. In most cases, technical presentations rely on common accepted frameworks to create structure and rigidity in the delivery.

Creative or artsy allows for full freedom of imagery and use of canvas. No limitations or expectations guide the hand of the recorder. As implied by the name, the artsy format can be abstract, simple, elaborate or many other possible methods. As an example, I prefer the more artistic imagery of pen and ink as seen in many of my works.

Along the Axis:

We now have two elements to define our axis; content capturing and format of presentation. With each of the elements we have introduced a range of variables. For content capturing two variables have been defined, that of precision and interpretation. With format of presentation a set of variables has be established; technical and artsy. Combining these elements with their variables to the axis, it expands from an axis into a basic 2×2 grid. This grid offers a guide to the various methods recorders may use when creating their canvases. Yes, the grid can even be broke down into smaller regions since the variables are graduating in endless variations. But to keep it somewhat simple, I rely on the basic 2×2 grid for simpler explanation.

On the Grid:

On the grid, there are four basic regions defined which I labelled; Creative Canvas, Idea Flow Chart,  Conversational Wall and the Note Taking Sheet. Each region has graduating levels and offers many possibilities within its framework as you migrate from one region to the next. Each region in the grid is merely a description, never meant to be a definition.

To better understand the grid and where your style or the style of a recorder may reside, allow me some examples of extremes. In the region of Creative Canvas which resides in the upper left hand quadrant, the variables of artsy presentation and interpreted content exist. This can be conveyed as more graphic in format and less about transcription of words or text.

In this quadrant, if we located a pin in the further most upper left corner one could imagine a cave wall where Neanderthal man drew his stories of great hunts, battles fought or unusual animals encountered. No words only images are used, but the story is still told. These stories have remained understandable across time and the barriers of language.

In the opposite, lower right hand quadrant exists the Note Taking Sheet. This quadrant combines the rigid control of technical with precise content capturing. Here one could see boxes of text defining ideas. In the extreme case down into the very lower right hand corner one could imagine a transcript from a conversation such as court case or a secretary’s dictation. In this quadrant frameworks and text reside predominant as the method of recording.

I could continue on with multiple variations with subtle changes and nuances, but I think you get the picture. If not, allow me to present in a method of Interpretive Artsy style which would exist in the Creative Canvas quadrant.

Defining Styles Grid


I hope this post helps the recorder discover their style as well as those who seek the talents of a recorder to better understand the multiple formats of content creation and delivery.

As a side note, I see my style bordering along the line between interpret and precise, but always in the artsy columns. I have drawn a pin to illustrate this on the canvas above.

What’s your style? Where would you stick your pin?

Until next post, keep your ideas visible so that others may see and share.

Draw 4 Santa

Being a graphic professional, I tend to lean towards the graphic form of communication. Instead of text notes I doodle, graphic record and even create mock characters to spark unconscious thinking processes. Graphic images have been our main stay in communications since the earliest man and cave walls. So I decided, instead of a Christmas Wish List to Santa, I would draw for Santa, what I wish for.


This idea sparked another idea. (The always do.) I decided to challenge the graphic facilitation and visual thinkers of the world to draw their list for Santa. If we are truly visual communicators, this should be an easy task. So Tweet your list with hash-tag #Draw4Santa and let’s see what you are wishing for.

Until next time, keep drawing conclusions and wishing you the very best this holiday season where ever you are.

Recap: Peaking Behind The Curtain

You hopefully have seen all 4 canvases created from Jim Gilmore’s event. If not go back and read all 4 earlier postings. Four panels covering 1 day and 24 books which lead to the creation of “The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre and Every Business is a Stage” by B. Joseph Pine II & James H. Gilmore. (if you haven’t read this, you should.)

I present the last canvas to recap the day’s event to share some highlights of the interactions and content. Enjoy.