One Squiggly Line Blog

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

Visual Thinking: Get it! Grab it! Go for it!

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While visual thinking makes things simple, it certainly does not dumb them down. Part of the simplicity comes from removing unnecessary parts, leaving behind only what you need to work with. That allows you to really see exactly what it is you do have to work with. This often leads to that, "Oh, now I get it!" moment when everything finally seems to fall into place and make sense.

Once you can see things more clearly, you are able to make better decisions. Sometimes, things become so obvious it doesn't even really feel like you're making a decision at all. The right choice just jumps right at you. Or if you do need to think about it for a minute, it's much easier for you to grab it and run with it.

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

Visual Thinking & Creativity: Use something in a new way

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There's a myth out there that highly creative people just sit around and wait for inspiration to strike. Like a great big lightening bolt from the sky. Or a soft whisper from a mystical muse.
Truth is, creativity is not quite so passive. It is an active process. And there's a science to it, not just an art. There are even formulas, methods, and procedures for generating ideas and, equally importantly, evaluating them. One way to get a new idea or find a creative solution is to use something in a new way.

Sometimes, I take stacks of business cards with me, like if I'm working at a conference or event. Regular rubber bands seemed to rip several of the cards, which meant I had fewer to give out. So, I looked around and found something different to hold my business cards together — stretchy ribbon hair ties. Not only do they hold my business cards together, they look better, too!

When it comes to creativity, the best ideas can be inside the box, not outside of it. You just need to use them in a new way.

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.

Graphic Recording: Welcome!

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Friendly visuals can set the tone for the day! This graphic recording was created during the welcoming remarks at the CompCloud event last month here in San Francisco. This represents about a half an hour of content on one 40"x60" board. As you can see, there's some white space and the writing is fairly large.

The next blog post will show another visual from the same event created during a much longer session. As you'll see, the length of the session and amount of content covered impacts the overall look of the resulting graphic recording image.

Visual Notes: How to Choose Between Graphic Recording and Sketchnotes

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Graphic recording. Sketchnotes. Visual notes. The terms are often used interchangeably. But there are some distinct differences. Graphic recording is usually done on flip chart or larger paper, foam core board, or white board, with the graphic recorder standing in front of the group. Sketchnotes are much smaller (think printer paper or a notebook) with the sketchnoter sitting down - mine are usually black and white, but they can also be in color, too. Visual notes is an umbrella term including both graphic recording and sketchnotes. At least that's how I define things.

If you're looking to hire someone to create visual notes for you, how do you know if sketchnotes or graphic recording is best for you?

Generally, if you're going to bring someone in to work in person with your group, graphic recording is the way to go. Part of what makes graphic recording so powerful is that everyone in the room can watch the image unfold along with the conversation. This continually draws people back into the content and keeps them engaged. When displayed after, the images allow people to literally see the big picture of the content and discuss it with those around them. This would happen on a much, much smaller scale with sketchnotes, simply because only a few people can look at them at the same time.

If you're looking for visual notes of a video or audio file, then sketchnotes would probably work best. Sketchnotes can be just as powerful as large graphic recording images when displayed online. If nobody will be around to watch the notes unfold and you're only interested in digital files, it really doesn't matter what size the original notes are. 

The sketchnote above was created from an audio file for the online course The Business Soul Sessions.

Graphic Recording: Use those visuals after the event!

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Graphic recording happens live, in real-time and on a large scale right in front of everyone. That's part of what makes it so powerful, engaging, and memorable. But those images can be quite powerful, engaging, and memorable after the event, too. So how do you put them to good use? Shop.Org had a great idea, as shown above in this Twitter screenshot. 

Graphic Recording: TEDxBerkeley ~ Steve Wozniak

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Graphic recording is full of surprises. You never know who you're going to run into or what they're going to say.  But no matter the speaker or the topic, the process remains the same - listen and draw! 

This image was created just a few days ago at TEDxBerkeley by the last speaker of the day, Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple Computers Inc. He had a lot of great stories to share about his times on the Cal campus as a student. He talked about all kinds of random things - shaving cream, pay phones, saltine crackers, and typing, to name a few. All great stories in and of themselves, but far too many for me to capture visually in such a short time. But that doesn't matter. His overarching message was crystal clear - find happiness.

That's what graphic recording is all about - making the big picture clear for everyone, even those not in the room.