Operating in a space as the invisible observer is one of the ways a graphic recorder can show up (or not show up!) during a workshop. I may be physically set up at the back of the room, or among the audience working away on my device blending in to all the other people on their devices. There are times when I’m capturing the lived expertise of a marginalized group, who most certainly aren’t comfortable sharing their stories at the best of times – but also want to feel heard. I’ve had sessions where I may not be introduced to the participants at all. And sometimes that’s appropriate. Sometimes I’m wearing a ninja mask.
Sometimes, what’s important for the group is that I’m part of it – I’m an active participant. This was certainly the case recently working with a not-for-profit board at their strategy day. When there’s a round table sharing of thoughts and feelings, the facilitator will ask that I join in. Sometimes that’s appropriate. Sometimes I’m wearing the same hat as everyone else in the room.
Sometimes – actually, often – the graphic recorder is there to add the pizazz and fun at an event. The audience wants some levity and joy at their workshop, and having fun is the number two priority, right behind getting the work done! This is especially the case during design sprints and creative sessions where energy must remain high. So, sometimes, I’m wearing a propellor hat.
Being adaptable to what the group needs – as always, it’s about serving the group – is really important to me, and certainly one of the skills I believe that makes a great graphic recorder. It’s a dance between ninja and circus performer. At some events I’m moving along a continuum and need to bring the whole dress up box.