The Art of Live Sketching at Events

What is Live Sketching? Visual Storytelling Today show

The Art of Live Sketching at Events

The Art of Live Sketching at Events 366 222 Shlomi Ron

In recent years live sketching at events has become quite popular. I’m of course referring to the practice when you see a presenter on stage and on the sidelines you have a visual artist that in real-time brings to life the key ideas into a sketch on canvas.

The art of live sketching at events is a fantastic example of visual storytelling at its best and that was also the topic for this episode of the Visual Storytelling Today show.

To help unpack this topic I had a great chat with William Warren, Founder & CEO of The Sketch Effect. His company is harnessing the power of visual communication to make their clients’ ideas understandable, memorable, and shareable. Some of his clients include Google, Chick-fil-A, Delta, Siemens, Home Depot, among others.

Here are a few questions we discussed:

– What is live sketching? Are there several types? What benefits does it provide? And in what contexts?

– How do you define Visual Storytelling from a live sketching perspective?

– Can you share a few examples and discuss how the visual story was created? What particular surprising elements do you include? Target emotions? And what was the audience’s response?

– Visual grammar or vocabulary means a) basic narrative elements and b) branded elements, right? How are you customizing a visual vocabulary for your clients?

– Live sketching is in essence real-time translation of the spoken word in events into a visual story. Can you talk more about the process of Active Listening your artists apply?

– How do you measure the success of a live sketching engagement?

– Do you have instances when live sketching is not just about visual transcribing of key ideas but is elevated into a real visual story (setting, conflict, and resolution)? For example, as a comic strip?

 Can you share your top 3 tips on how to bring to life ideas at events with live sketching?

And much more!

Watch the full video recording of this interview:

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You can also listen to the audio podcast of this episode.
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Highlights from our chat:

What was your journey or backstory that led you to start The Sketch Effect?

I have always been a doodler. Whether making my own comics or creating more sophisticated illustrations, I could always be found with a sketchbook and marker in hand. In my mid-20s, after a few career twists, I found myself in a corporate marketing job, doing exciting but fairly uncreative work. In order to have a creative outlet at this job, I began to sketch during meetings. Sometimes I would just sketch ideas in my own notebook. Other times I would jump up on a whiteboard and sketch the ideas for all the people in that meeting. Or, if I had a presentation to give, I would sketch my points out, scan them in, and use them in my PowerPoint deck. What I began to realize is that this form of “visual communication” really added value to these meeting experiences and people wanted more. Soon other teams around the company were asking me to come sketch for their meetings, and soon after that people outside the company were asking me and were willing to pay me! After taking on a few paid “gigs”, I realized that I loved this work, that there seemed to be market demand for it, and the time was right to leave my job and start a business anchored on this idea of “visual communication.” In brief, a creative outlet became a side hustle, which soon became the main hustle, and would eventually grow into a business.

What is live sketching? 

Live Sketching is a form of visual communication or visual storytelling designed for meetings, events or conferences. Although it goes by several different names (such as Graphic Recording, Sketch Notes, Live Scribing, Visual Note-taking, etc.) the basic essence is the same: A Live Sketch Artist is physically present at a meeting, actively listening to the content, synthesizing, and sketching the big ideas in real-time. The goal is to leverage the power of visual learning to make the content more understandable and actionable for attendees, making the meeting more valuable and effective overall.

Live sketching is in essence real-time translation of the spoken word in events into a visual story. Can you talk more about the process of Active Listening your artists apply?

Active listening is like regular listening on steroids. To be a good active listener, you have to choose to focus and you have to choose to ignore all other distractions. There are many distractions that go to war with our ability to listen. You have internal distractions (“I didn’t get much sleep last night,” or “I am hungry” or “I had a rough morning”) and you have external distractions (“The AC unit is making a funny noise” or “The speaker has a funny shirt on” or “The person next to me keeps clearing his throat”). A good active listener acknowledges these distractions and chooses to ignore them. They summon interest and empathy and embed themselves in the content they are hearing. They also process as they listen, synthesizing and reviewing as they go. These are a few key ways to be a better listener.

Shlomi Ron

Shlomi Ron is the founder and CEO of the Visual Storytelling Institute, a Miami-based think tank with a mission to bring the gospel of visual storytelling from the world of art to more human-centric and purpose-driven marketing. A digital marketing veteran with over 20 years of experience working both on the agency and brand sides for Fortune 100/500 brands such as Nokia, IBM, and American Express. He started VSI to combine his marketing expertise with his passion for visual stories stemming from his interests in classic Italian cinema and managing the estate of video art pioneer, Buky Schwartz. At VSI, he helps brands rise above the communication noise through visual storytelling consulting, training, and thought leadership. Select clients include Estée Lauder, Microsoft, and Cable & Wireless – to name a few. He currently teaches Brand Storytelling at the University of Miami’s Business School. Thought leader and speaker at key marketing conferences. He is also the host of the Visual Storytelling Today podcast, which ranks in the top 10 best business storytelling podcasts on the Web. His book: Total Acuity: Tales with Marketing Morals to Help You Create Richer Visual Brand Stories. Outside work, he is a nascent bread baker, The Moth fan, and longtime fedora wearer likely to jive with his classic Italian cinema interest.

All stories by: Shlomi Ron

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