Conference Organizers traditionally hire Graphic Recorders and Facilitators to graphically record (read -live illustration) keynote addresses, special speakers, and plenary announcements – often outlining the high points of each individual discussion.
But surely there is much more that a graphic recorder can bring to a conference – how can the act of simply putting marker to paper better connect attendees with sponsors and exhibitors?
Below are the results of a brainstorming session focused on identifying those opportunities for graphic recorders -ideas that improve the conference experience for all!
Keynote and Speaker Graphic Recording
Mentioned above, the live illustration/ graphic recording of keynotes and speeches result in exceptional, social share worthy and never-before-seen content for a conference. Live graphic recording on large boards or paper can happen at the front of a room and be a visual show for attendees or can be a back of the room affair that is enjoyed after individual speakers wrap up.
Two graphic recording alternatives:
- Graphic Recorder only takes visual notes of a speech, to later recreate a large graphic recording either into a single illustration of multiple speakers,
- Those notes can be used to infuse speaker-driven concepts into any of the other ideas below!
Comment Wall Graphic Recording
My wife and I have key phrases that we share with each other that mean little to anyone else. These are comments overheard at gatherings through dating, years of marriage and child rearing. If only the originators of those comments knew that their words lived far longer than they could have imagined.
A Comment Wall at a conference is …similar. Used in coordination with an acute army of volunteers attending engagements, press shows, vendor booths and the show cafeteria, a graphic recorder will gather the best, the funniest, and the most riveting comments, along with its source (optional), and place it on a thought bubble on a board designated as the comment wall.
Not only does such a wall beg to be read by the passersby, but it is a guarantee that your vendors will seek to be bragadocious and profound. Attendees that are quoted are flabbergasted that they were chosen, and speakers are flattered.
Comment walls can be sponsored by 1 or more vendors that either
- have their logo drawn on to the comment board, or
- find their quotable quote listed in prominence.
Quoted vendors photograph and share this type of comment, showing their constituents, and company management, that they are valued.
Sponsor Logo and Tagline Mega-Wall
I have seen many conference websites that list platinum, gold, silver and bronze sponsors in long scrolling lists that, honestly, add little value for those vendors or for the attendees. These lists are recreated in print on conference pamphlets and signage- great for name recognition but little for excitement.
There must be a better way.
The concept logo and tagline Mega wall is simple – draw out logos and tagline s for sponsoring vendors in marker and oil pastels. A quick rendering of a logo and message can be sized according to the amount of sponsorship for the conference at large or for the mega wall- all blended in with multiple thematic elements.
Such a wall must be sized according to the size of the show. If there are 250 vendors that each sign up for 2 square feet of space, ( or 5, or 10) you can imagine a board that can be 20 feet wide and 8 or more feet high. This type of wall can be high impact and absolutely used as a photo backdrop.
A lot of planning can go into a logo and tagline wall, but the results can be exciting to see built!
Workshop Track Graphic Recording
Last October I worked with 2 other graphic recorders to graphically record a teacher conference with 4 plenary speakers ..and twenty workshops (5 of which concurrently ran at any one time). While it was amazingly fun to work with other recorders and create deep keynote drawings, the workshops were another animal entirely.
Each graphic recorder visited one or two workshops in each time slot (and gathered workshop presentations). From gathered and taken notes, (and some late night/after hours drawings), we created five 40 x 60 boards, one for each workshop track.
Because the attendees were each only able to visit 4 workshops each, the ability to see what was discussed at least in marker and oil pastel, was valuable to all.
Mega Machine or Process Wall
Whether you are a trade show for plastic injection molding, or a conference of those fighting the crime of sex trafficking, vendors and speakers each play a part in the overall holistic view of the industry covered.
With a lot of thought and effort, large scale drawings can show how sponsorable vendors and speakers fit into the manufacturing line, process, or ecosystem of individuals and groups focused on changing the world.
What might be drawn? An entire manufacturing facility, a hospital with medical equipment, a city or state with social services spread across a land mass, or a multi-faceted farm that shows the source of each food for a restaurant show.
Vendors and Sponsors of such a wall can receive prominent placement.
Event Experience Drawing
Your event brochure or app may have a calendar or event schedule. That’s awesome, but it does not necessarily represent the path an attendee might take through your conference?
Conference attendees may see value in the creation of either a real-time, or an early developed Event Walk illustration.
Consisting of the steps a typical user might take through your event- a drawing may consist of footstep patterns between speakers, exhibitors, badge pickup, cafe, outside breaks, vendor meetings and more. While a vendor could possible SPONSOR a stop on this walk, it may not be necessary. This graphic recording, complete with your event logo, may see many photographing it because it represents the person’s day in one single image.
Attendees, especially ones that may not typically attend events, may like to see typical conference experiences as well- and may serve as reminders for important but overlooked components of your event.
Location Map or Maps
Yes, you already have an event map, but what if a new map cold be drawn to highlight a specific experience (see event experience above) or to highlight locations that get overlooked? Either way, a hand-drawn map can bring a new style to what can be a maze of rectangles and vendor booths.
And don’t forget, vendors can sponsor the map to call out their locations! A map is generally well planned before an event.
Stats Reporting by Graphic Recording
A unique way to show that your event is fulfilling its purpose is to keep score. As a conference is not in a competition( or is it?) the best way to keep score is to collect and share statistics on itself. This novel but not often used method showcases the successes of your event as it happens. Examples for stats on a reporting board?
- 120 attended the keynote address
- 16 registered from Wisconsin
- 27 people from Mexico picked up their badges this morning
- VendorX finished setting up 3 days ago
- VendorY has given out 62 bags of Hershey bars
- VendorZ asked when their presentation is starting FOUR TIMES so far.
Silly stats like this establish a sense of community, and inclusiveness of the event itself.
Your Next Event Location
If you make an announcement each year regarding your next year’s location, consider doing so through a live illustration.
An illustration can be created that shows small hints of landmarks of a destination city… slowly building until the name of the city is drawn at the time of the announcement. This concept not only calls attention to the eventual announcement but builds excitement for your next event!!!
Sponsorable Scavenger Hunt Boards
Place small boards on easels throughout the event. A graphic recorder, armed with a map and location, can cycle around the event drawing any number of previously mentioned graphics on the boards. A scavenger hunt can be set up to FIND the boards- and their contents. Like all of the ideas above, this is a social media savvy idea.
Sketchnote or Graphic Recording Challenge
Who said only one person should bring crayons to your conference? Many conferences – especially those in education, include training on how to create sketchnotes. A sketchnote is a graphic recording at a notebook scale.
As a fun addition to a speaker or a workshop or series of workshops, consider holding a sketchnoting challenge and judging at the end of your event to see who is the best artist in the room.
Alternately, consider live graphic recordings from volunteers in the general attendee population- not only might this add levity, but adds a sense of competition. A professional graphic recorder can act as a coach, lead by example, or compete in the competition.
Guest Map (with Vendor Added Pins)
Zoom out! Create a national or world map as a graphic recording. Then, based on your registrations, add a heavy sampling of attendee names (first name, last initial) as highlights as pins or people on the map to show the reach of your conference.
Want to make this sponsorable? Offer spaces for a dozen spaces to also include their corporate headquarters.
Who said humans have to do the drawing?
However, there are a slew of individuals and hobbyists that create robots on …a Wire. These devices look like a small robot holding a pen attached to strings. You can utilize this wonky set up to print anything that you like. The value of this is that it is a hobbyist level tool, and something uniquely accessible for users. These devices use standard markers or crayons and candy a fun addition or a competition against human beings.
Social Stream Updates
Sure you can put out a hashtag for your attendees to utilize in social media. Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and others are a great way to allow your attendees to interact. However, the reality is that hashtags often go under-used. Imagine utilizing a graphic recorder to monitor the social feeds and provide a drawing outlet for what’s being talked about.
Send out your hashtag and tell your attendees that some all the social shares will be translated into images on paper to be shared at a certain time and place.
News releases, signs and announcements get lost in the haze of a conference or show. Consider utilizing a graphic recorder to pick and choose newsworthy items and record them on panels that may be centralized, or distributed around your conference.
This handwritten method is appreciated by human beings because the notes are drawn and written by human being. Does she need method reaches fewer people but the connections are more meaningful than the glass a company made you on prnewswire or similar.
The Being-Present Value of Graphic Recording
The point of all that creativity above, is just to show that the sky is the limit when incorporating graphic recording at your next event.
Big Paper Strategy can help you plan the graphic recording of your upcoming event. The combination of concepts is where creativity and excitement flourish. Please ask us for even better and newer ideas based on your subject matter!!