One Squiggly Line Blog

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

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 & 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 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: 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 & Creativity: Switch Perspectives

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One great way to think more creatively is to switch your perspectives. Try looking at things from the perspective of a child. Or a superhero. Or a rock star. Or your favorite movie character. You can choose anyone — dead or alive, real or fictional, human or not. Just pick someone and step into their shoes for a minute to see things through their eyes. Another word for that is empathy.

You can also switch perspectives physically. Try walking into a new room. Or taking your work outside. Or maybe lying down to think. Or simply standing up for a while instead of staying seated.

Anything that causes you to see things in a new way can ignite your creativity. So give it a try and see what works for you!  

Visual Thinking & Meetings: Why ARE We Here?

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Why bother to have a meeting if nobody knows why they're there? And they're still wondering what that meeting was all about after they left? Sometimes, all it takes is a simple visual to make things crystal clear. Visuals can remind those in charge to state the objectives and make sure everyone understands them before work begins. Visuals can also remind people to ask questions when things aren't so clear. And if someone's mind wanders, just looking at that visual will bring them right back into your content.

 

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!