Graphic Facilitation – How do you “up” your visual game?

Posted by | May 2, 2017

I’m often asked, “how did you get started in your career,” and “how does someone get started?” And the simple answer is that I’ve been blessed with two amazing mentors in my career. Lynn Carruthers started me on this path of graphic recording and has been a constant support for over 15 years —even before I ever got to the “big wall.” Michelle Boos-Stone challenged me to reach beyond my comfort zone and build a practice that is both fulfilling and profitable. My mentors invested hundreds of hours of their time into my development; for that, I am eternally grateful.

Mentors are a critical part of our development because their role is to be honest, to challenge us to be better, and to provide feedback at every step of the way. Let’s be honest; in our line of work, all we ever hear are praises of our finished product. That’s a great confidence booster, but it’s not what pushes us to the next level. That’s what prompted me to create a 6-month mentor program to help others in their graphic facilitation journey. The program includes regular, virtual meetings packed with feedback, lessons from the field, and homework to keep you practicing throughout. I love working with folks in a 1:1 setting, helping people identify when they’re stuck, and helping them move their practice to the next level.

Here’s an interview with Alece Birmbach ( on our time together:

Where are you in your career today? I took my first weekend workshop in May 2010. Today, my work runs the whole gamut of our field — from smaller strategic planning meetings, to big conferences, to studio work.

What draws you to the work? It’s a good combination of all the skills I already had. I’m good at listening for sound bites/headlines, I like being out with people, and I can draw.

What were your challenges before we worked together?
Learning to listen at a high level for my charts to flow better. My goal was for people to understand the maps if they weren’t in the room. I used to panic a lot while I was listening. I wasn’t sure if I was capturing the right things or if I was drawing the right connections. Instead of waiting for understanding of what someone was saying, I would just start writing as fast as could.

“I thought that after 5 years, I shouldn’t be trembling at the wall. Our sessions gave me the confidence at the wall that I needed to be calm.”

What did you learn from our mentoring session?
I knew I wasn’t making good connections, but I didn’t know how to shift that. I had two mentors before and no one told me I wasn’t doing it well.  In our sessions, you identified where I needed to improve, taught me how to listen differently, and gave me new techniques to do it differently.

Also, it was really cool to have the online platform to show me my charts as we were talking about it and give me several examples of how I could’ve done it differently in real time. It was instantly applicable at my next job, I would have three different options in my head to try out. There was a system and a method underneath the troubleshooting.

What’s your dream job other than graphic recording?
Comic artist and author. When I’m an OLD lady, sitting in my container house with a joint hanging off my bottom lip, I’ll just be drawing my web comic (and it’s hilarious). I’ve got a daily web comic, and my fans are just waiting for it to come out every day because it’s just THAT funny.

For more information on 1:1 mentoring, contact Sophia at I’d love to work with you!

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