A picture tells a thousand words, especially if it's not on PowerPoint. Enter graphic recording, the art of visually capturing the information conveyed at a meeting as well as the energy and the tenor of the discussion.

Through words, pictures, and icons, graphic recorders convey what is happening on giant sheets of paper — one for each 30 minutes of discussion. Using different color pens and highlighters, the recorders illustrate the words and actions of a meeting. Oranges and yellows show energy, for example, while an icon, like a star, might reinforce an idea.

“Graphic recorders are people who are trained to listen in a public environment for pertinent information that a group needs or agrees on and record the energy in how those words are spoken,” says Tim Nugent, business development manager at The Grove Consultants International, San Francisco, which consults and trains organizations in facilitation and collaboration techniques. Nugent says the technique engages attendees because they see their words and ideas being listened to and supported. It also helps to move the meeting along because the images discourage repetition of ideas. “You have a record of your meeting that's visual, that can be carried to future meetings, and can be used to communicate beyond that meeting to people who weren't in the room.”