Putting your message across using powerful pictures

Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 16:08 | Category : General
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Caroline Chapple, professional cartoonist and illustrator, is guest on the PR Network blog talking about the power of pictures in communications.

I never knew how well I could think on my feet until I started drawing live.

I draw conversations for a living. Or, to be more exact, I listen to conversations (stories, lectures, etc), filter and order the information in my head, convert it all into pictures in my brain and then lay them down on paper. All while the speaker is talking.

It’s exhausting, exhilarating and deeply satisfying.

The benefit for you as a speaker or event organiser is that your information is transformed in front of people’s eyes into engaging visual content. Not only does this make it more accessible, it becomes more memorable, as our brains retain words and pictures better and for longer than words alone. It also gives you instant, attractive material for social media, blogs, etc.

There are different job titles for what I do, including graphic recorder, information artist, scribe, visual notetaker and sketchnoter. I like ‘information artist’ because, for me, my first focus is always on the content.

There’s no set route into this work as far as I can see. My path has been from a 20-year background in business and marketing. This gives me the advantage that I understand most of the general concepts being discussed and a lot of the specifics – and my clients tell me it’s a differentiator. Many of us are already skilled at listening and filtering out what’s important as it’s being said. The extra skill is being able to put it down in pictures at the same time as the next piece of information comes in – and to build a brand new narrative, pictorially. That takes some mental juggling with an added physical dimension.

For me, the drawing dimension is the least important part (stick figures will absolutely do the job), but it’s also the part where you can bring in your own special magic and personality. I like to keep a clean, simple look to my pictures, with a style that I hope is approachable, quirky and full of heart.

 

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I love this job more than any I’ve done. It brings together all the skills I’ve ever accumulated within some kind of alchemic mix. I love it because who knew you could combine business skills with a love of drawing to produce a genuinely useful output? And it turns out, much to my surprise, I love the adrenalin that comes from live performance. I love it because it’s a place where there’s no room for procrastination or fear. Once the whistle blows and you put your first mark on that pristine piece of white paper, you’re off. You don’t stop until the speaker does, or until they throw you out of the room. I love that.

Most of all, though, I love that I can work with clients to transform what they have into something better, brighter, more digestible and more appealing to their audience. That gives me enormous satisfaction because, of course, as communicators, our work is always about providing a new, more compelling platform for our message.

To find out more about bringing the value of visual thinking to your information, find out more about my work on my website or link in with me or follow me @carolinechapple / #todaysdoodle

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