Graphic Recording Psychological Safety at UW-Madison

A few months ago I got the opportunity to serve as a graphic recorder for Amanda Thornton as she presented on psychological safety for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Office Professionals conference.

It was our first time working together, and I got all the advantages a graphic recorder could ask for:

  • Ms. Thornton found time to meet with me before the event
  • She provided me with a copy of her planned powerpoint slide deck
  • She asked for some ideas to involve the audience in the presentation
  • She was willing to go with some experimental techniques for the recording (more on that later).

Preparing the Boards

We also had a small dot chart for them to give feedback when they first walked into the room.

Having so much preparation time and materials really gave me the opportunity to put in some serious time on this presentation. I prepared three 12’x4′ boards with templates that would fill in and complement the content of her talk. I then mounted all three on the board, with the second and third scrolled up and hanging on the side. I practiced “unrolling” the papers for each section, until I was confident I could do it smoothly (using Christina Merkley’s Super-Secret Tape Technique).

Note: in retrospect, it would have been smarter to have all the papers layered on top of each other, and rolled them up as each section transitioned. Still, it worked pretty well.

Ms. Thornton was brilliant in reading the audience’s experiences right off the board and integrating them into her talk.

Each board also had room for the interactive feedback produced by the attendees on colorful sticky notes. I have to give extreme kudos to Ms. Thornton for being able to not only present the material but also have three separate feedback activities for the attendees – all in the space of one hour.

After the event I created scans of the posters (including close-ups of the interactive portions) and presented it to the attendees as a PDF format so they could use it to refresh their memories after the fact.

The Feedback

So what did people say, after the fact?

Look, Ma! I’m a gentleman scribe!

Let’s be honest: there was at least one person who didn’t see the point. “Not sure the gentleman reiterating everything on paper was good as no one really saw it. Hey, at least I now know that I came across as a gentleman…

However, apparently there were a lot of people who did see it:

  • I loved that there was ‘in real time’ drawing/posting of the conversation and presentation – that was so unique and I would love to see more of that.
  • Visuals were similarly excellent.
  • I thought the scribe was a fun addition, I have never seen that before!
  • …having the scribe record in a different medium during the presentation was unique and reinforcing of the points made…

I also got some direct feedback as I was taking down the equipment, with one person thanking me for helping to keep her awake and another – my favorite compliment – who told me that I had done “a very good job of multi-tasking – for a man. Most men aren’t good at that, but you did alright.”

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