4 Key Responsibilities of a Visual Storyteller

Snapshots from the real-time scribing of “the dance” (dry erase markers). An aesthetic homage to golden era Hollywood that symbolized the creative dance between marketing and automotive design engineers.

I’ve been at this career of graphic facilitation and recording quite a while (since right after Bush started that war in Iraq — the “Shock & Awe” one from the 90s, not the “NeverEnding Story” one). And over time I’ve discovered that my role as a graphic facilitator has 4 main responsibilities:

  1. Reporter, documenting the key points of what you hear;
  2. Co-Educator, as opposed to a teacher/educator, here you “co-educate” with the group you’re supporting by using their own input to reveal patterns that help them literally see what they are talking about;
  3. Visual Modeler, synthesizing concepts in real-time by creating graphic models that help simplify ideas that can sometimes be complex, and finally;
  4. Inspirer, taking metaphorical comments and bringing them to life in a way that helps inspire the team through illustration. The graphic below featuring the dancers is an example of that last role, the inspirer.

The 4 main responsibilities I focus on while real-time visual storytelling.

The graphic recording snippets showcased below came out of a marketing and strategy session with a prominent automotive company in Europe that I created in real-time during an intensive group dialogue.

Snapshots from the real-time scribing of “the dance” (dry erase markers). An aesthetic homage to golden era Hollywood that symbolized the creative dance between marketing and automotive design engineers

In this graphic record I seized upon the comment that a member of the strategy team had made from this automotive company saying that their marketing and branding team was in “a dance” with the design engineering team to help create progress and innovation. Hearing that concept about a dance between the two brought to mind something elegant and graceful and so I did my best to evoke the old Astaire and Rogers vibe by sketching two dancers that represented the commingling of ideas. As the group dialogue went on I continued to build on the metaphor to show them where their ideas converged. In this case, when they noted that they had to take more “risks” as a company and that “innovation happens at the edge.” As the dialogue progressed the participants really coalesced around that dance metaphor and from that moment on it became an inspirational and aspirational goal for the team, showing them that their organizational silos needed to be overcome in order for them to “dance together” along innovation’s edge.

I believe that when you become comfortable in the 4 responsibilities of a graphic facilitator in your own unique way then you become a real-time visual storyteller.

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By: Christopher Fuller