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!

Visual Thinking Words & Pictures Together

Hand-drawn visual created in real-time
increase an event's impact by:

  • allowing the audience to see what they just heard — increasing engagement and retention.

  • literally showing the audience the big picture of each talk and, when displayed together, the event as a whole. (Great for social media!)

  • providing a visual document of the day that can be shared during and after the fact...for years and years to come!

  • bringing underlying themes and patterns to the surface and deepening conversations.

Visual Thinking: Real-Time Illustrated Visual Notes

I had the pleasure of drawing for the wonderful NetApp folks at their Insight conference in Las Vegas. Instead of drawing the keynotes or break-out sessions, they placed me in The Cube, a live-stream video platform.Check out the replay!

As you can see above, I was positioned near the speakers. I drew while they talked and was pretty much finished when they stopped. While the focus of the live-streaming was the speakers, I appeared in the background and during breaks.

The visual notes were then displayed where people could continue to discuss the content throughout the conference.

These were drawn on 40"x60" foam core board with Neuland markers.

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Here's another image I created at NetApp Insight last month. I was given a quote from the press and asked to make make it visual. There was no pre-planning — I just picked up a marker and started to draw it out...in front of the camera!

This was drawn on a 30"x40" foam core board and took 23 minutes to draw. The final video is on their blog where you can watch me draw it in 26 seconds.

This is just another way hand-drawn visuals can help bring information to life!

Schedule me for your next event!

Visual Thinking: Visualize Richly & Colorfully


There's so much more to visual thinking than doodles and diagrams! While physical drawings are a great way to help you think and communicate more clearly, there's a lot happening in that brain of yours before you even pick up a marker. The ability to see things clearly with your mind's eye, your imagination, is where it all begins.

To strengthen your visual thinking skills and boost your creativity,look at the picture above. Really study it for a few minutes. Pay close attention to the details, not just the overall image. Then, close your eyes and form a really clear picture in your head of the picture you were just looking at. Describe it out loud as accurately and thoroughly as possible, including as many details as you can.

To take it a step further, when you open your eyes, draw the image you just described. If you get stuck, close your eyes and try to see the image of the original drawing in your head instead of going back to the original picture.

You can do this alone or with a partner. Just remember the goal is to see the image as clearly and accurately as possible.No judging!

This exercise not only strengthens your visual thinking abilities and boosts your creativity, it also increases your observational skills, gives your memory quite a work out, and makes you a bit more articulate, too!

Check out One Squiggly Line'sAbout Visual Thinking pageto 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

Creativity: We All Have It — Reignite Yours!

Think back to when you were a kid. Do you remember your personality? Do you remember any quirks you had?
 

And if you can’t remember that far back, think about the little kids you know, whether family, friends, or even strangers.
 

They all have one thing in common - they’re at the the most creative stage in their life.
 

Children are at a stage where they haven’t been conditioned to many routines and norms. They are completely themselves - unfiltered and raw.
 

...Always asking why

...Not caring too much of what others think about their appearance or their actions

...Saying whatever comes to mind

...Not holding back any ounce of laughter
 


As we grow older, eventually we don’t question as much
 

Eventually the routines of life become mainstream
 

Eventually our imagination grows stale
 

We hold back our laughter more and more
 

And eventually we lose the perspective of what could be in exchange for what is

Creativity gets taught out of us


Our teachers telling us to write in 12 pt. Arial font.


Our parents not having enough patience to answer all of our why’s.
 

Our own inflicted judgements
 

We become afraid of failure. Of messing up. Of saying the wrong thing. Of being judged.
 

To the point where we’ve lost ourselves in exchange for a mask that society has handed us.

We have unlearned creativity.

We all have the ability to be creative, but it's our job to learn it again.

Visual thinking is a great way to jumpstart your creativity, whether personally or professionally, alone or with a group. Simply watching someone else create something can inspire creative thinking and actions. Contact me to bring the power of visuals to your next event, meeting, or project and reclaim your creativity!

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

VisualThinking_GetitGrabitGoforIt_OneSquigglyLine

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 & 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

VisualThinking_LiveIllustratedNotes_OneSquigglyLine

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.