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.

Visual Thinking: Words vs. Images

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To many, the term visual thinking means pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. Maybe some charts and diagrams, too. And possibly a few mind maps thrown in for fun. 

While pictures are a big part of visual thinking, words are also a big part. Words can be really powerful. Pictures can be very powerful. And when you put the two together, the message becomes even more powerful.

Check out the drawing above to see more specifically what's involved with both words and pictures. 

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

Visual Thinking: Simple as 1-2-3!

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One of the most powerful things about visual thinking is that it makes things simple. When things are simple, they're much easier to remember. And the more often you see something, the more likely you will be to remember it, too.

That's why simple posters are so powerful when working in person. And why simple online visuals are so powerful before and after events, or when you can't be face-to-face.

A super simple way to keep your visuals super simple is as easy as 1-2-3. Choose 1 central image. Use no more than 2 colors. And limit yourself to only 3 words. That's it!

That formula doesn't always work for everything, but it's a great place to start. Even if you have to sneak in an extra word or two, your visual will still be pretty simple.

Visual Thinking & Creativity: Keep it Posted!

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When people look at things, they generally think about whatever they're looking at. So if you want to be sure people focus on certain things during your meeting or presentation, visuals can really help.

Posters are a great way to keep that info front and center in everyone's mind. Your posters don't need to be fancy. But they do need to be clear. Very clear. So clear people can get the info in a glance.

The poster above was created for a workshop I taught about thinking styles. It was used during a hands-on group activity to remind each group to try out all four thinking styles. The thinking styles are color coded, so it's easy to focus only on one square at a time. Yet, it gives a clear picture of the whole process. That way, people can move about the process at their own pace and see how they're connected.

Visual Thinking & Drawing: Make Some Posters!

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Visuals set the stage before people even walk in the room. When people are greeted by a fun and friendly poster, it makes them feel welcome. And puts them in a more positive mood. They know, before anyone has said a word, that you've put some thought into the gathering...and this gathering might actually be fun!

Your visuals don't need to be super elaborate. Simple can be fabulous! Just stick with one main image and a short title. If you need a subtitle, make sure it's short and put it on the bottom, under your image. Add some color and you're set!