As an event organizer, you make hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions small and large. It’s nearly impossible to anticipate the impact of each of these decisions.  For VizLiteracy 2012, we decided to open up the event not just to adults, but to students.  We didn’t promote the event specifically for students nor did we actually expect that any would show up.  Since visual literacy and thinking is for everybody, why not keep it open, right?  Well, much to our surprise one student did register…not a college student or a high schooler, or even a junior higher.  Instead, 9-year-old Emily Torrance was the hit of the event, actively participating in sessions throughout the day.  Each of the facilitators commented on how smart she was and commenting on her insight and participation.

So, sure, showing up is great, but what impact did we really have? You rarely hear about it from adult attendees more or less a student, but Emily took it upon herself to blog (!!!) about the experience in a post titled “Special Thanks To…

We’re not sure quite yet what we’re going to do next year related to students, but Emily’s experience and feedback opened our eyes to many possibilities.  Thanks to you Emily!  By the way, you can call me Tom.

One of the cool and useful things about visual thinking is that the process naturally creates outputs, artifacts if you will that document some of the experiences of the event.  Graphic Facilitation (sometimes called Graphic Recording or Visual Facilitation or Visual Recording) is a prime example of that.  We were so lucky to have one of the best in the industry, Brandy Agerbeck live graphic recording our general sessions.  Not only is she an amazing artist, she is also very talented at synthesizing large amounts of complex information and displaying them visually.  For those of you who were able to attend the event, this will invoke lots of memories about our activities.  For those of you who weren’t able to make it, this will give you a little insight into what kinds of things you might expect at next years event.

Graphic Recording

Check back soon for even more artifacts!

Here are a sampling of quotes from attendees of the 2012 Visual Thinking & Literacy Conference on what the attendees learned:

“How to Idea Map, good rules for creating visualizations”
“Power of PowerPoint that I didn’t know existed”
“Structures to aid the thinking and creative process”
“Mind mapping, synthesizing, information design, and video”
“Creativity is a powerful process that can be sparked with the use of inexpensive materials”
“Visual maps can be really helpful”
“Some new techniques for visually/concretely coming to consensus. Process for generating info graphics”

And a sampling what they would like to see next year:

“Make it two days”
“Add sketch notes”
“Add more ways to bridge between business and education”
“Help me get to see everything”
“More time to talk with keynote speakers”
“More… More… More…”
“Advertise more”
“Bigger, longer”
“What about a day like this for younger people? junior high or high school?”
“Expand number of breakout sessions”
“Make all breakouts available so we can see what we missed”
“More promotion”
“You should maybe have something for the kids too”
“KidViz parallel conference”

We take your learning and feedback very seriously. We’ve already started planning for next year, taking your comments into account, and making this better than ever! Be sure to watch this blog for details.

Didn’t register yet? The event is a few hours away? Been debating on whether you could fit it into your schedule? Trying to decide if you can wait to start drinking green beer until after the event?  No Worries, come over and join us!  Walk-in’s are definitely welcome and you can pay the $100 registration fee with credit card, check, or cash on-site!  We’ll make room for you.

The web registration is now closed, but just come on over.  You’ll have a great time!

Right now, we’re setting up the rooms, rearranging tables, putting out supplies, testing the technology, and organizing everything for a great event tomorrow.  But did you know that we have a pre-conference happy hour?  It’s at the Moose Preserve today from 7-9pm (or later).  There’s no cost to attend the happy hour, and you don’t even have to be coming to the event to come to the happy hour.  There will be as much food and drink as you want (and can afford).  The Moose Preserve has a tasty selection of the usual foods, but for the slightly more adventurous meat eaters, they also have a few game selections like buffalo, venison and quail.  If meat’s not your thing, there are certainly vegetarian options as well.  And for everybody, they have a nice select of draft & bottled beer, wine, and mixed drinks to suit nearly every taste.

More importantly, you’ll have the chance to meet some of the facilitators and attendees in a fun, casual environment.  The conversation will be great, and who knows, we might even play a visual thinking game or two.

The Moose Preserve is near the corner of Square Lake and Woodward in Bloomfield Hills.  You can find out more details about their menu and location here:

Address: 43034 N. Woodward Ave. Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302

There’s also still time to register for the event, so Register Now!

One of our event Keynoters, the always amazing Jamie Nast has once again taken the schedule and applied a frequently used visual thinking technique, Mind Mapping, to show a different way to display the information. This is one of the  many visual thinking techniques you’ll learn at the event.

Thanks Jamie!

Yes, it’s true.  In 48 hours we’ll be kicking off the midwest’s largest visual literacy & thinking event ever, and we couldn’t be more excited! From the first moments, you’ll realize how different this event is from any other one you’ve been to.  Final details are complete and it is going to be amazing!  You don’t want to miss this one with 9 of the leading visual thinkers in the country (plus one from Canada) coming together to share with each other and with you!

There’s still time, so Register Now!

There’s only two days between now and the start of the Visual Literacy Conference.  Can you believe it came up this fast?? Last minute details are falling into place as you read this.

The facilitators are ready. If you’ve never been to a visual thinking & literacy event, this is likely to be the most hands on, interactive event you’ve ever attended. Not only will you hear about the various techniques, with many, you’ll be able to experience and try them for yourself. We’re buried in markers and post its and index cards and paper and all kinds of visual thinking tools getting them ready to go for Saturday. Who knows, we may even do some visual thinking at the pre-conference happy hour at The Moose Preserve! Stranger things have happened. This one time, in Berlin… well ask Ryan or Tom about that.  We have a great sampling of visual literacy and visual thinking topics including: Mind Mapping, Presentations, Information Graphics, Mobile Design, Visual Facilitation, Visual Note Taking, Metaphors, Learning, and Video.

You will come away inspired and ready to take a few new techniques back to your home, school or office and immediately improve your thinking and communication skills.

There’s still time, but don’t delay!

Register Now!

Well, most of you know that I’m the one writing these posts, so it would probably be a bit disingenuous to write a bunch of flowery speech about myself.  So, instead, I’ll tell you how excited I am about this event. Les, our host and sponsor at Oakland Schools, approached me with this idea several years ago…what if we brought a visual thinking workshop/conference to Michigan? We talked, ruminated, planned, schemed and finally brought together what I think is going to be an amazing event. We wanted it to be inexpensive…reachable for everybody. We wanted it to be interactive…lots of games, activities, and hands on learning. And most importantly, we wanted to hang out with amazing, creative, smart people who could inspire us to take our thinking and communication skills to a new level.  I think we’ve exceeded this on all counts.

One of the things that I love about my career is that I get to hang out with and learn from some of the most amazing people in the world. Jamie Nast…brilliant, creative, fun, kind, and generous.  Karl Gude…energetic, creative, funny, artistic, and full of stories. Cliff Atkinson…smart, talented, successful, and insightful.  Frankly, if I could just hang out with all of the facilitates all day, it would be a great event.  It’s such an amazing list of leaders in the industry.

While all of these people do interesting things every day, so do all of the attendees. One of the things I’m looking forward to most is hearing what you are doing and how you’re applying these techniques (and others) everyday.

I’m so privileged to be the MC for the event, as well as leading a session on mobile apps, but way more exciting is the time I get to spend with each of you!

Register now and be sure to take advantage of this amazing group!

Yay! Can you believe it?  In just 7 days, we’ll be gathering an amazing group of visual thinkers together to learn new things and share ideas.  It’s going to be a great time with topics like mind mapping, presentations, information graphics, mobile design, visual facilitation, visual note taking, metaphors, learning, and video. We couldn’t be more excited!

Best yet? There’s still time to register! 9 great speakers, continental breakfast, lunch buffet, and lot of inspiration is only $100.  Plus you get a $20 book credit and a chance to win some amazing software from TechSmith!