Editing on the Fly

Editing on the Fly

Graphic recording is a kind of performance art where editing takes place in real time, in a process of distillation. My aim is always to capture the forest, not the trees, in a way that allows for the argument or gist of what's being said to be conveyed to those present (or even absent, after the fact).

It is very helpful to me when the speaker announces ahead of time that there will be four main sections, as recently during docent training for a new nature park in the nearby City of Woodland.

The point here was for docent trainees to be able to answer questions that arise when they're leading tours. It was a good, pithy presentation and easy to capture.

diagram showing the different habitats birds need at different times of the year

Consider this second presentation, which was delivered on the same night. The speaker has an encyclopedic knowledge of botany. He gave no sense ahead of time where his talk was going, and indeed it meandered through the history of the Central Valley and the western United States, all of it fascinating. What to highlight for the docents-in-training?

My attempt is below. I see now that I could have done this any number of different ways. The punchlines, however, would probably remain the same: a) the soil type around the Woodland Regional Park hosts alkaline prairie plants (one of them endangered), and b) it is our responsibility as environmental stewards to act to stave off the current extinction crisis.

Diagram showing the available plant habitat at the Woodland Regional Park in a regional context

I suppose the take-home from this is that it helps the graphic recorder if the speaker can give them a sense, ahead of time, of what they want the punchline to be. This experience from last week has reminded me that I can also ask for it.