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European Meteorological Society Conference

EMS Conference through the eyes of a visual practitioner

EMS kindly invited us to visually record sessions at the annual conference in Budapest. The burden of expectation on us was high because it was the first time that EMS hired graphic recorders. The challenge was on us to make a positive first impression. We were asked to record two keynote lectures and a few short presentations on related subjects. We also took on the special task of creating a graphical representation of the poster sessions.

 Congenial people around

 Even before our mission at the conference had started, we were certain that we shared a common belief about the value of visuals with the meteorology world. It is not only because of the use of all those pretty clouds and suns in weather forecasts but because of the common use of visual aids (info-graphics, animations, video simulations etc.). Because meteorologists speak the language of visuals, they also like and understand our work. It was stirring for us to see people gathering around our visuals, checking contents, reading it word for word and enjoying the richness of the visual records. Those who could not attend the keynote lectures  could fill in the gaps. We are also grateful for the special care we got from the organisers (display panels, labels, all sort of supplies).

Communication stakeholders

Working with visuals we always face the task of filtering and organising data to show big pictures and wider correspondences.

 

 

Therefore, we we also able to profit from the keynote lecture “Great Forecast – Poor Outcome” by Haleh Kotvaal which was about communication and how people can understand a meteorological issue such as the possible effects of a huge approaching storm or a cold winter. It was dramatic to see how weak communication can lead to tragedies. Using visuals in communication not only gives information in an easily perceptible way, but also helps to mobilise feelings and enhance motivation to take the appropriate action within a short time frame.

Complex issue cries for complex representation

The big picture about open data with our visual assistant Alexandra Ambruzs. Photo credit: Szilárd Strenner.

The session on open data which made a great impression on us. The topic was intorduced by Jed Sundwall from Amazon Web Services (AWS), highlighting the importance of their services, how it works and how they provide the high quality data to their clients. Building upon this presentation, data users and national weather forecast services representatives delivered their stories about how they benefit from the high quality processed data. The more-than-2-hour block, with all the detail and complexities, was a challenge for us to record. With thanks to our largest sheet of paper, we managed to capture it in one big visual recording (size 1.13 x 3 m).

Poster Sessions

We also found the amount and the quality of research and findings represented in the Poster Sessions compelling. Not only the information itself, but the design and widespread use of visuals on these materials was very impressive.

Summary

We are grateful to the organisers for giving us the chance to participate in this inspiring conference which has further strengthened our beliefs in the power of visuals.

By Szilárd Strenner

The original article 

About Me

I’m Szilárd Strenner, the general manager of Grafacity Visual Services, a visual facilitator and organisational development consultant by profession. I’ve been doing trainings and leading groups since 1994. I got familiar with visual recording in 2010, and I wrote my final thesis on this topic for my OD consultant education. We set up Grafacity Visual Services and became active members of IFVP, International Forum of Visual Practitioners. I take part in nearly a thousand of hours of visual client-work independently or together with my colleagues annually. I would like to better understand how we can support the change processes with our visual means the most efficiently.

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