“Initially, clients like the novelty of graphic recording, but once they actually experience it, they see the value of it,” says Charles Alday, president, Alday Consulting Services, a Kennesaw, Ga. — based performance consulting firm.

Graphic recording is the interpretation, through words and images, of the ideas expressed at a meeting. “You are literally trying to capture the big picture — so it helps to use big paper,” quips Martha McGinnis, president, Visual Logic Inc., Atlanta, a practitioner of the trade. “I use images or colors that relate to what was being said, how it was said, and the context.”

Alday uses graphic recorders for several corporate clients and finds it an effective and relatively inexpensive way to deliver return on investment. He believes visual reminders leave a lasting impression, and he even makes post-conference booklets for clients with images of the graphic recordings and a summary of action items. The drawings can also be scanned and sent by e-mail to attendees, posted on the Web, or hung in clients' headquarters for all to review.

An hourlong session can be translated into a chart that can be understood in about three minutes. “That chart,” says McGinnis, “can easily double what people remember — the important stuff, not what they ate, or the faux pas, which is often what people remember later.”