Many of us are visual learners and images definitely aid recall. So, it is surprising that not more event organisers engage graphic recordists.

They visually map conversations illuminating what is essential in real-time.

“People learn by looking and reading and they will remember things better if all of the senses are engaged”, says Carlotta Cataldi – who for the past 13 years has been bringing ideas alive visually at conferences and meetings.

Carlotta draws on paper, on what is called a knowledge wall, as well as digitally.

Having worked with her twice over the past few weeks at events where I was Master of Ceremonies, I saw how deeply she listens, and how rapidly she visualizes complex concepts.

She has developed her own language – bees represent a cross-pollination or cross- fertilization of ideas, a thermometer refers to rising heat in cities, while wellbeing is visualized not as a coin i.e. money but as a jewel.

For the audience there are multiple advantages. It helps keep their minds focused on the content of the discussions. It helps to animate conversations, and provides them with an engaging visual summary of conference discussions to share with colleagues and on their social media channels.

A resource for organisers and the Master of Ceremonies

As a Master of Ceremonies or panel moderator, you are trying to bring clarity to the conversation in real-time. Carlotta goes one step further and turns that clarity into something visual – a mix of images and key messages.

It is, however, a team effort. I always introduce the graphic recordist to the audience at the start of an event and then, depending on time, I bring them in before coffee breaks and lunch and at the end of the day.

Sometimes, I may even ask the recordist to join me on stage to tell us what was important for them in the conversation. Each time, I am encouraging the audience to go and see what the recordist has done as this reinforces engagement.

At an event for Better Cotton last week where I was the Master of Ceremonies, we went one step further and encouraged the audience to write their insights or questions on post-its and tell us if anything was missing from the board or anything they wanted to draw.

Organizers can often underestimate an audience’s need to be entertained and to participate in the conversation. Engaging a graphic recordist is a great way to ensure audience participation and make the event is more audience-centric and memorable. The images also are a great resource for post-conference reports and can be digitalized for use in PowerPoint presentations and webinars.

“I love my profession”, says Carlotta, “as it brings beauty and natural curves, a human touch to a business event.”

Claire Doole runs workshops on how to organise events and moderate panel discussions.