One Squiggly Line Blog

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

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: 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 & Creativity; Visualize it richly & colorfully

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Visualizing things richly and colorfully leads to more creative thinking. You probably visualize things more than you realize, without really thinking about it. So you already have some visual thinking skills. But how do you become better at visualizing things on purpose?
Try this:

Go to a hardware store or someplace that sells paint. First, pick a paint sample color card that matches your shirt. That's a warm-up, starting with something very concrete and right in front of you — your shirt.

Then, look for a paint sample color card that matches something at home. It could be a different shirt, a piece of furniture, your walls. Whatever you choose, you will need to picture it very clearly in your mind so you can "see" the color.

Paint sample cards are usually free, so you can take home the ones you think are the closest and see how well you did. The more you practice, the better you get!

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

Visual Thinking & Creatvity: Make the common new

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We look at letters every day. Online. Text messages. Street signs. Starbuck's coffee cups. Letters are everywhere.
When we see things all the time, we often stop really looking at them. Common things can become invisible.

When that happens, it's a great time to get creative with them. That causes you to look at things in a new way. Explore them from a bunch of different perspectives. Really look at them. See them in a new light. That's where a lot of new ideas are often found — sitting there right in front of us, in plain sight!

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 & Creativity: Timelines

Pictures are obviously a big part of visual thinking. So are words. But if you just throw a bunch of words and pictures on a page, you just end up with a mess. A visual mess that makes your thinking messy, too.
That's where organization comes in. It's the third essential component of successful visuals. It doesn't have to be fancy. In fact, it's often best to keep things really simple.

A timeline is a simple and effective way to visually organize information.The image above shows a simple timeline of the International Center for Studies in Creativity, where I got my master's degree. Of course there's a whole lot more to their story than shown in this timeline, but it includes the things that influenced or impacted me in some way. You get the idea, at a glance.

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

Visual Thinking: Visual Lists

There are tons of articles floating around out there about how to increase your social media following. After reading a number of those articles, they all start to blend together. The same information presented again and again, with most of it being just basic common sense. Even if the content has been seen time and time again, visuals can make things seems fresh and new. When you make things visual, they stand out and draw people in. Read the whole article here.

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!