Interview with Bernie Quah of Sketch Post
What is a Graphic Recording?
Powerpoint slides, workshops and conferences… Let's face it; most presentations are dry and information-heavy. Without a jolt of coffee or a sincere enthusiasm, many attending these presentations would just zone out.
Well, there is a way to make these situations more engaging. Pictures, videos, and infographics are all testaments to the power of visual learning. Graphic recording takes visual content to a new level, combining words and images in a fun format that people really relate to. Graphic recordings make ideas stick in the minds of guests.
Some people are better able to translate or remember information when visuals are involved. For myself, graphic recording is a no-brainer compared to taking primarily text-based notes. Drawing simple pictures is actually a much quicker and more efficient way to capture ideas than to capture them word-for-word. Ability and practice make it easier for other people to interpret your drawings, too.
To create this visual content, graphic recorders listen for key ideas in a conversation. They’re trained to recognize verbal cues to identify these key ideas and quickly replicate them through drawings. It is like speaking a different language – a visual language. This skill helps them to capture the essence of a live presentation in a short amount of time. Graphic recordings are so fresh, in fact, that much of their appeal resides in watching the process itself unfold. Many who witness it for the first time sit up and wonder, “Hey! What’s going on over there?” Also, graphic recordings boost social media engagement, as they are ready for guests to photograph then post, tweet and share immediately.
Graphic recordings are not meant to be complete summaries or even self-explanatory pieces of information design. They are summaries of sessions that guests can instantly use as references for discussions. The compilation is great to include in reports and press releases.
Of course, not everyone is primarily a visual learner. But graphic recordings’ combination of pictures and words is novel, compelling, and memorable — and it gives content marketers an engaging way to test a new medium on their audiences.
Tell us about your company and how did you get into this business?
Many have asked if my passion is illustration and my answer is no. My real interest is continuous learning. And Illustration or graphic recording is a tool that helps me learn about many different things while creating value for people around me.
Illustration has always come naturally to me as a child. I found my skills to be most valuable as I attended conferences and began illustrating notes as talks and discussions went on in my notebook. It was an instant capture of key points and interesting quotes. Organisers, guests and speakers loved them and it was a beautiful way to celebrate the content and exchange of ideas. The professional term used to describe this is graphic recording. After a few years of practicing graphic recording as an interest, I became confident in my work and decided to turn it into a profession by starting Sketch Post.
How can a start-up or a small business use Graphic Recordings and what are the benefits?
Visuals get everyone on the same page so no more meetings that run for hours with no end in sight. Also, when many ideas are visualized together, a single idea becomes divorced from the person it originated from and is viewed as a holistic team effort. Visuals encourage people to think as a team and not a lone genius.
Apart from graphic recordings which are done live, Sketch Post creates infographics and videos as well that can be used to engage users across different media.
Can someone learn to do Graphic Recordings?
Definitely! I’m self-taught. It started out as simple note taking in college and developed over the years in to visual storytelling.
Most people can summarize and draw links between ideas with lines and shapes. Drawing stickmen is perfectly fine too. The challenge of graphic recording is visualizing content so others can understand it as a glance and not just for the person who illustrated it.
If you would like to learn in a group, Sketch Post will be hosting workshops in Hong Kong over the next few months so sign up if you have the chance.
You recently did Graphic Recordings at TEDxHongKong ED (Education) in May 2014. What typically happens with the poster boards after the event?
The boards from TEDxHK ED were presented to speakers as gifts. Many event organisers present them as souvenirs to surprised and flattered speakers. Clients also display them in their office and may have used them in presentations.
One of our most enthusiastic clients, PwC KL (PriceWaterhouseCoopers Kuala Lumpur) included our graphic recordings in post-event thank you cards. And another client had a set of 12 graphic recordings so a calendar was created as a corporate gift.
What’s your most memorable Graphic Recording experience?
We recently experimented with building Sketch Towers at TEDxKL (Kuala Lumpur). We constructed them out of foam boards taped together. They're Data Sketches in 3D! It was a great way to engage the guests as they could move around the Sketch Towers to absorb the talks. Literally taking graphic recording to new heights.
Bernie is a graphic recorder and the founder of Sketch Post. She listens to ideas and transforms words into hand-drawn visuals that brighten up presentations, brainstorms and events. Graphic recordings simplify complex ideas to engage people, making ideas stick.
She constantly strives to improve and learn. She loves to travel and enjoys immersing herself into different cultures to explore design possibilities. Essentially, Bernie is a thinker and dreamer at heart. She believes that if she can visualise it, she can make it happen.