A Bit of Ink and a Lot of Listening

A Bit of Ink and a Lot of Listening
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I had the pleasure to spend a few hours this week with the folks from Ink Factory. And while the name of their game is the tangible practice of visual text and imagery, I liked the way they emphasize the intangible art of listening.

The team at Ink Factory practices graphic recording. In a nutshell, they are a very talented group that can sketch up visual representations of discussions in real time. You say it, they sketch it. Think corporate meetings, annual events or corporate brainstorms; they turn works into hand-drawn visuals.

This week I headed down to their Ink Factory, dusted off my markers, busted out the sketch book and joined roughly 30 others from around the city for a three-hour lab called ‘Think Like Ink’ as part of Chicago Ideas Week.

On a scale from 1-10 I like to think my quick sketch talent falls somewhere in the 6-7 range—so I wasn’t all that bashful to show off my doodles (check out the picture above). But seriously, this workshop wasn’t about our ability to make our art teachers proud. Instead, it was about rekindling the lost art of listening.

Active listening can be a visual communicator’s most useful tool. For the Ink Factory crew, listening is necessary in order to capture a key message being delivered up on a stage and be able to turn it into a message in the matter of seconds. Without the ability to quickly digest and understand information, they are just running in place. And the art of listening is something that they emphasized again and again during the session—and I really appreciated that.

In our work with clients at Fuse we often find that it is indeed about the very tangible skills that we can bring to the table in order to churn out a well-written narrative, beautifully crafted graphic or an artfully produced video. But it is just as much about that intangible skill of listening to our clients and being able to fuse their thoughts and help deliver a message with impact. I like to think that we have embraced the art of listening as well.

Companies are looking for partners that get it—that get them. And rather than trying to tell companies what they want to hear, we need to be listening more to what they have to say. If not, you can spend more time back at the drawing board—and not in a the fun way.

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