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Who is a Superhero?
Grinnell College President Dr. Raynard Kington at TEDx Youth@DesMoines
industry/topic description group
time date
education, activism real-time graphic facilitation 200 4'x8' 15 minutes 04.12


A rare treat! You can watch the source of this graphic facilitation. Dr. Raynard Kington, Grinnell College's president, gave this speech at TEDx Youth@DesMoines. The theme was a Superheroes, a time limit of 18 minutes and an audience of children and teenagers.

Generally, I do little prep before a project. I only need a short context setting call. I don't need my clients' slide decks or speeches or annotated agendas. This lack of details isn't a lack of interest. My experience, responsiveness and adaptability in the room serves my clients better than knowing a lot of detail before I go into the room. And so often those details change.

This project was an exception. Knowing I'd need lightning fast fingers (one of my superpowers) to map 18 minutes of speech on a four foot by eight foot piece of paper, I read the speech beforehand. I'm more often mapping conversations (over presentations) and generally dialogue starts really ramping up 18 minutes in. I knew the eighteen minutes would be over in a flash.

Dr. Kington and Jim Reische, VP of Communications for the college, crafted a speech with a clear shape. As you'll hear, Dr. Kington describes two types of heroes, those standing at the front of the room (exemplified by James Kofi Annan) and those at back of the room (exemplified by Septima Clark). I knew I'd have two key figures facing each other. In the closing, I could put a third person in the middle, an audience member, inviting them to find their powers and gifts. If I had a few more seconds, I would have added some walls to the metaphorical room on the drawing to give a better sense of place.    

Click here for a printable PDF

This project was especially important to me. Sure, there's "TED cred" for be involved in TED talks. And I was very happy to be part of this TEDx Youth@DesMoines event. It meant so much more because it was for my alma mater, Grinnell College. I was the first in my family to go to college, and I had no idea what I was doing. Something resonated with me when I got that their brochure in the mail. Still wonder what exactly spoke to me and set that school apart from the others. I applied early admissions, got in, and thankfully, it was a good choice for me. A great choice. I loved the intensity and the independence of Grinnell. The beginning of my graphic facilitation career started when I decided to map a speech of my freshman tutorial as I gave it. Mapping the speech of the college president 20 years later? What a feeling of accomplishment, a great loop being closed, a big ribbon being tied.


p.s. Kington talks about how no one was written a comic book about Septima Clark. I think someone should.

Graphic facilitator Brandy Agerbeck creates conceptual maps of conversations. Since 1996, her drawing and thinking skills have facilitated groups of 2 to 1000 across industries. Brandy's images help people navigate the complex world around them and bring clarity to their work.

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