Do you know whether you’re left brained or right brained? There’s a theory that one hemisphere is more dominant than others in most, and this impacts how you exist in many ways, from your learning styles, to what type of work you do – even whether you’re a dog or cat person. Analytical, methodical, scientific and engineering types are said to be left brained. Creative, fantastical, big picture thinkers are said to be right-brained.
Illustration demonstrating no two brains are the same

Years ago I remember doing an online test to find out which was more dominant for me, and I came up centre-brained. When you look at this fantastic infographic it makes sense – there are a bunch of things on each side of that brain that I resonate with. I’m emotional, spontaneous and creative, but I’m also logical and always on time… and I’m a dog person.

I think being centre-brained is precisely why I find such joy in my work as a graphic recorder. When capturing a workshop of people’s ideas and strategies, I am sequencing ideas, I’m rational, and it’s happening in an orderly fashion… but there’s also a lot of spontaneity to graphic recording – ideas can flip in the moment – directions can change… what was originally considered the purpose for a session is suddenly not important at all.

Why graphic recording helps all thinkers

From an audience perspective, graphic recording certainly helps to bring the left and the right together on a path. While graphic recordings are very different to a spreadsheet they certainly demonstrate structure, sequence and hierarchy which keeps the lefties happy. But they do it in an artistic and visual way, which works for team right.

Right brain audience members may also enjoy the collaborative aspect of contributing in workshops, and witnessing their contributions being captured live on the wall during the discussion. Lefties will often find the creative aspect of being witness graphic recording a little bit uncomfortable at first, but as they lean into it – and see the structure and hierarchy – they often get a bit excited about bearing witness to something so novel and cool that they can understand.

Engaging the right brain is crucial in this time of AI and automation – I watched my niece the other day while she was doing her maths homework as she said, “Hey Siri, what’s 49 times 183?” Being good at that kind of maths is no longer required when you can just ask the question of an ever-present assistant. But you can’t ask Siri to connect ideas and themes, or come up with something new – so getting comfortable with the discomfort is the way to go.

As a Graphic Recorder, when capturing live at workshops and events, I’m using both sides of my brain. As an audience member or participant, you are thinking, listening and watching a graphic recording take shape. Whether you’re left brained or right brained, you’re most certainly using more of your grey matter than you realise!