One Squiggly Line Blog

Hand-drawn pictures can make things clear, simple, and fun in blogs, too!

Visual Thinking: Words & Pictures Together


What grabbed your attention first — the image above or the big chunk of text below?

Odds are, the image grabbed your eye first. It's probably the main reason you're reading the text in the first place!So go back to the image for a minute.Really look at it. READ it.

Now, read the paragraph below:

Visual thinking makes complex information simple, brings clarity to confusing communication, makes the common unique, turns the passive into the active and apathy into interest. With visual thinking, the clumsy becomes elegant, the impersonal becomes personal, the dry becomes juicy, "Yes, but..." is replaced with "Yes, and...", trial and error turns to trial and learn, the cold becomes warm, and the separate become unified.

That paragraph and the accompanying image say the same thing!Most people find the information easier to absorb through the image than the paragraph.They're able to absorb that information faster and remember it longer. And, it's a lot more fun!

Check out One Squiggly Line'sAbout Visual Thinking page to learn more.

Visual Thinking: Simple is Powerful

Friendly hand-drawn visuals can breathe new life into an old message. The topic of New Year's resolutions has been covered time and time again. So much so that people stop really paying attention to it. In effect, it becomes invisible. 

 

When that happens, a new approach is needed. Something to break the pattern and grab people's eye. No need to make it fancy or complex. Simple can be very powerful. Plus, when you keep things simple, they're less scary so you're more likely to follow through.

 Bring Visual Thinking To Your Next Project Or Event

Visual Thinking & Visual Notes: Live Graphic Recording

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 Hand-drawn visuals are far friendlier than standardized fonts and stock photos. And hand-drawn visuals are even more inviting when created live, right there where everyone can see.
The drawing above was created during the opening remarks at the Women in Cyber Security conference the end of March. It was then displayed near registration to welcome late-comers. Not a high resolution file shown here, just taken with my iPhone in the moment.

To see the whole set of visual notes from the Women in Cyber Security conference, check out this Flickr album.

Visual Thinking & Visual Notes: Live Graphic Recording

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People often think I do a lot of drawing while taking live visual notes. If you really look at the image above, you'll see there's really not much drawing there at all. Just some squares, a couple of circles, and an arrow. That's it!
When you write words inside simple shapes, those simple shapes start making your own notes a bit more visual. They become more dynamic. More interesting. The image and the message become more unified. And far more powerful. 

A great way to make your own notes more visual is to write some of your words inside simple shapes — circles, squares, triangles, arrows, etc. Give it a try!

The image above is a close-up of a 4'x8' drawing, created live, in real-time during a Design Thinking workshop. Be sure to check out the entire image!

Visual Thinking & Visual Notes: Live Graphic Recording at Events

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There's never just one way to create visual notes, especially when they are created live. And at a large scale. That can make capturing a panel talk more of a challenge for some people. It takes a bit more flexibility than a clearly defined presentation.

I tend to capture panel discussions in a way that highlights the key points of the discussion as a whole. Not a series of summaries of what each person contributed. Since discussions tend to be rather fluid, the final visual makes much more sense that way. Speakers tend to like it better that way, too. So often key points build on what another speaker said, so there's no chance of misattribution when you capture the discussion as a whole.

The visual notes above were created during a panel discussion at TechInclusion last fall. You can see the whole set of visual notes created live, on-site there in this Flickr album

Visual Thinking & Live Visual Notes: Graphic Recording

When working live, you never know what's going to happen. I usually only have the same information the people in the audience have, which is a basic agenda. So I know the speaker's name, title of their talk, and how long they are scheduled to speak. That's it!

It's not uncommon for talks to go longer as planned, like the one above. That's usually a good sign, as it means the audience is really engaged. But it can be a challenge to capture all that extra content on the same page. 

Color is a great way to keep things organized when there's not much space available. Grouping concepts and thoughts according to color allows you to have completely different ideas right next to each other without things getting confusing. 

See more visual notes created live at One Squiggly Line's graphic recording page.

Visual Thinking & Live Visual Notes (Graphic Recording): Demos & Pitches

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Demos and pitches are a pretty common part of the business world. Actually, they're a big part of every world, even if you don't formally use the term "demo" or "pitch". At the heart of both demos and pitches is a quick, concise presentation of key points. Hopefully, that presentation is both entertaining and memorable.

Hand-drawn visuals are a great way to make your presentation more entertaining and memorable. The drawing above was created live, in real-time as the speakers gave their demo or pitch.

To see more examples of visual notes create live, in the moment, visit One Squiggly Line's Live Graphic Recording page. Or for visuals created to highlight key points, created before or after a presentation or from print materials, see One Squiggly Line's Synthesis Images page

Visual Thinking: Live, Large-Scale Visual Notes (Graphic Recording)

Awesome. Passion. Both very powerful, positive high-impact words. Notice the difference between reading those words in standard print here and seeing them used in a hand-drawn illustration above?

If you look closely at the above drawing with an analytical eye, you'll see there's really not much drawing there at all. Just a big orange heart and two smaller black ones. Plus a few lines here and there. That's it! Nothing fancy at all, yet much more powerful than those exact same words printed out in a computer-generated font. And even more powerful yet when you actually watch someone write them.

That's just a small sample of how powerful live, large-scale visual notes and graphic recording can be. Curious to learn more? Check out the One Squiggly Line's "Services" page for a lot of examples. Just imagine how much more powerful those images would be if you were right there, watching them being created live, right before your eyes!

Visual Thinking: Visual Notes & Graphic Recording - Short Talks in Tight Spaces

Having a graphic recorder create large-scale visual notes at your event can create quite an impact and make the content way more powerful. Sometimes, there's just not time or space to work at a super large scale. But size alone is not what makes the images so powerful. The power comes from the magic that happens when words and pictures are used together - like carrying a big box with both arms instead of just one.

The image above is one of eight created at TEDxBerkeley last month on 20"x30" foam core board. While much larger than a sketchbook, this size is still much smaller than the standard 4'x8' boards many graphic recorders use. Yet, the image is still quite powerful and creates quite an impact - and the smaller size is much easier to carry around!

Check out the whole set of visual notes from TEDxBerkeley 2016!

Visual Thinking: Webinars, Social Media & Real-Time Drawings

A lot of information and ideas that used to be shared in person are now being shared online. Surprising to some, hand-drawn visuals can still be created in real-time, even when the entire interaction is taking place through a screen. Hand-drawn visuals are especially powerful in these situations because they give a very personal touch.

Webinars are a great example. Most webinars have an accompanying slide deck, chat room, and Twitter hashtag to follow. While the slides may have some visuals, the are generally seen in a completely different context than the chat room or Twitter stream. And with a lot of people interacting through chat and social media, it's really easy for comments and insights to get lost.

When hand-drawn visuals are posted in real-time during your webinar, they immediately grab people's attention. They keep the conversation alive, even after the webinar ends, thanks to your webinar hashtag. And hand-drawn visuals allow others to interact with core nuggets of your content, even if they missed your webinar. That can make them want to learn more and lead them to join you at your next event.

Be sure to watch this 15 second video to see what I mean. It shows 12 visuals that were drawn and posted to social media in real-time during the main 45 minutes of a webinar. The last 15 minute were devoted to Q and A, which I did not cover, but certainly could have, if needed.

To take a closer look at the visuals and see them all at once, check out this Flickr Album.

Please keep in mind, these were all drawn and posted in real-time. That means there was only about 4 minutes to draw, photograph, and post each picture!