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Stages of a World Cafe Graphic Recording

It’s hard to believe that it all starts with a blank sheet of paper… but it does! Here are some photos of a World Cafe recording as it progressed:
So here’s the start.
SDHC World Cafe Graphic Recording - stage 1 - Jeannel King
At the start, this graphic recording is pretty blank.
Actually, it’s more than the start. It really started with a blank 4’ x 8’ sheet of paper, and once I got it on the foam core board I thought it would need a title. The event didn’t have a logo, so I made one up! People started arriving, so that’s as far as I got for any sort of prep work.
The facilitator got us started, introducing the concepts of the World Cafe – assumptions, etiquette, et cetera. Since we had agreed that my recording would focus on the World Cafe questions and guest responses. But this type of meeting – gathering together at small tables – was a new experience for our guests, so I decided to add something about that into the recording as the facilitator spoke. The group also seemed to enjoy the facilitator’s comparison of our usual ways of working to Kipling’s story of the blind men and the elephant, so I added something about that as well! (At least, we think it’s from Kipling!) So far, so good!
And then, the facilitator posed the first question – “What could a hunger-free San Diego look like?” And the room started buzzing! Since the first question asked people to imagine what’s possible, I put together this “Imagine” banner with the San Diego skyline. (Okay, it was also to fill up that bottom corner, too!) If the person was imagining what’s possible, thought bubbles seemed to be the right lead-in. That’s where I put the first question. Since the room was really buzzing, I added a few bees flitting about as well.
SDHC World Cafe Graphic Recording - Stage 02 - Jeannel King
I knew that the facilitator was going to ask for people to share their discoveries in-between rounds, so I didn’t worry too much about wandering the tables to harvest information to include in the recording. After all, the guests would tell me the important stuff when they shared with the group! And boy did they have lots to share! Their ideas were wonderfully diverse and inspiring… rounds of them!
SDHC World Cafe Graphic Recording -  Stage 03 - Jeannel King
Instead of going with the prepared second question, the facilitator went with a different one that better fit where the group was going: “What themes do you resonate with?” After all the brainstorming, these report-outs were much more structured… wanting more of a list. When people repeated a theme that was already listed, I added sparks around the them to emphasize it. More references, more sparks!
There was a loud clap of thunder right as the facilitator was speaking… it caught everyone’s attention and got us talking about Thunder Gods, so I added a few drawings at the top to remember our unexpected guests!
The final question was posed – “How do I see myself getting involved?” Just a few responses were shared, so there’s more space around the notes. At the close, people shared how they were feeling, so I clustered those responses around a group of people surrounded by energy.
And then, a guest made an impassioned plea for people to speak to their clients to see what change THEY want need in their communities. It was such a passionate plea, I had to outline it in red and pop it with yellow… just so it stood out
SDHC World Cafe Graphic Recording - Stage 04 - Jeannel King
Nothing in this recording was planned… it simply emerged with the group. That’s one of the things I love so much about graphic recording – how much it reflects not just the information but the flow and process of the group. I love how it’s more chaotic with the first question, and gets more ordered as the guests boil down their responses to the subsequent questions.
So how do you do a recording? Post your comments below… I’d love to hear!

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  • Posted by Jeannel
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I'm impressed, as usual about your ability to describe something like that as so natural, so "normal". Taking visual notes with the aim to truly and genuinely record concepts expressed by a group of people and succeeding require a special gene in dna, I think. Jokes apart, the main ability here is to be an "ideas enhancer channel" and to govern our involuntary mind's filters. I've never been in the "recorder" position but I,ve been recorded both as a speaker and as part of a group as in the case of this post. Based on these experiences I noticed sometimes that what is recorded is a recorder arbitrary version. The enhancements are put on what recorder find important which, in some cases is different from the group thinking. Being able to visually express the power of concepts without impressing a personal influence and moreover stimulate feedback, instill ideas and do not get lost in translation are really super-powers! Once again, Jeannel, I'm really impressed. I never ask you to disclose your "secrets of the art" but what about telling us about your-side experience? How do you do "channeling"?
    Mauro, thank you for this thoughtful comment...and for your kind words! (And also for your observation about the importance of staying true to the group's experience...EXTREMELY important!) I love how you put it: being an ideas enhancer channel. How do I "channel?" Great question...I'll do a blog post on it to do the response justice! ;^) I'll tag you on Twitter when that one comes out... With thanks again, Jeannel

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