Tips to prepare for challenging graphic recording work

Published on
Nov 23, 2023
mins read

Once an international client asked me; “Will you be able to understand our topic? It’s challenging for people not in the field”. And “Our event will be full of people with diverse backgrounds, will you be able to follow their various accents?”

I said “Yes” to those questions, not only because I wanted to get that job so much, but also because it offered an opportunity for self-improvement. At that time, I had to show them my work and education background to reassure them. However, credentials are not enough if one doesn’t have the ability to deliver good work.

My case, I’ve found, is that I’m always hired to do work on difficult topics in English and sometimes in Thai as well (most of my graphic recording clients are international organizations — so English is what they use).

I’m very conscious of my deep listening skill as it’s my second-nature and I was also trained for it from design school as well as when I was a CBT therapist. The technical and academic content, however, is another layer adding to the work. Here I want to share how I prepared for the challenging work in a former language.

To tell you a secret, every time I’m hired to work with unfamiliar topics, I’m thrilled. It means I get to do some research, digging for information, sometimes reading from the materials they provide, thinking and planning about the visuals and styles — the activities I enjoy. Especially when the topic is so cutting edge. Isn’t that exciting?

In addition to the content, we have the preparation for the language part. For example, in some events there are technical terms used in the field. The vocabulary is very new, not just to me but even for native speakers. The clients use these words both in acronyms and in full. I prepare and practice like a language student preparing for final examinations, listing all the words and repeating them until I remember all of them.

To familiarize my ears with different accents, I use an online pronunciation tool. I listen to the words in American and British accents. It’s harder when listening to a non-native English speaker. If I have their names in advance, I search online to learn more about their work and listen to their accents, but this case is rare.

For long-term preparation, I’ve been taking a private English writing class. My first intention is just to be able to write better. Surprisingly, I noticed I summarized the content quicker and much better. With my new speed, I had more time to draw more creatively and felt more relaxed and satisfied.

Working on a live event, capturing advanced content of presentation and live-discussion with a language one was not born into can be intimidating in addition to the thrilling side. This feeling, although uncomfortable, is extremely useful because it makes me prepare. Preparing helps me gain more experience and makes me feel more confident after I deliver great work and make clients happy. I have more courage to accept other challenging work, as a result of which I get excited and delighted to do what I love again. It’s a virtuous cycle.

There are some aspects of preparation besides language that I’ll share later, please stay tuned!. Also, I would love to hear about how you prepare yourself or your team for challenging work?