I’ve got an idea for a new year’s resolution: Join the sketchnote revolution.
Sketchnotes are a visual form of note-taking that can include drawings, various lettering sizes and styles, color, icons, arrows, boxes and more — whatever works for you. I’d say that sketchnoting is officially a movement — maybe you’ve seen some from SXSWi or other conferences. And the best part? You don’t have to be a creative genius to do it. It’s called Sketchnoting, not Art School.
We all go to conferences. We all take lots of notes. And too many of them get filed away and forgotten. They’re rarely shared and they’re hardly ever something that seems desirable to read. In fact, most notes are even more boring than the bullet-pointed presentations they’re recording.
Enter sketchnotes. They help make work and learning fun again. Below is one of mine from SXSW 2011 (see, it’s just letters, notes, sketches, scribbles and scratches in my own sloppy style — anybody can do it).
Seriously, anybody can do it.
In my view there are two ways to do sketchnotes.
Most that you see are drawn live. I have a lot of respect (and envy) for those people who can capture facts, ideas and images live and in the moment — and do it beautifully. But that can be hard. My process is a mix of the two ways. Sometimes I capture as much as I can in a rough, abbreviated form (see right) then go back through and create a new output that 1.) Solidifies the learning for me through editing and re-exposure (this is a great airplane activity, btw); 2.) Ensures “understandability” for others viewing the notes — and for myself in the future.
Other times I draw everything live. That said, often I draw out a framework ahead of time so that the speaker’s name, the event, date, title of talk, etc are already written down or made visually interesting. That way you don’t need to capture that stuff in the moment. For example, at The Economist‘s Media Convergence Conference in 2009 I had to be completely done with visual notes for several sessions so they could be shown during the closing remarks. For a panel called The Social Media Phenomenon (see below), I inked all the important details and people beforehand. While they were talking I took rough sketchnotes and fit the key ideas into the quote box areas as needed. To me, it’s like having a running start. Another trick is to take notes on individual sticky notes (Post-Its) then arrange the best content into a final sketchnote like I did with the Trendsetting panel at the same Economist conference (they’re even color-coded by speaker).
I know others take different approaches — usually sketching everything then and there — but this works well for me. Try it a few times, experiment, and figure out what works for you.
I’d bet that you could attend the most boring meeting in the history of business, but by taking sketchnotes you could make it fun. Now I suggest you head over to Sketchnote Army and Doodle Revolution (yes, the title of this post was lovingly nicked from Sunni Brown’s Doodle Revolution site) to see examples from around the world. If you have some sketchnotes of your own please link to them in the comments section.
And of you’ve never sketchnoted, try it.
Join the revolution.
This is an updated version of a post from XPLANE’s xBlog.
Yay for sketchnotes!!! Here are some i did last night... on the Ipad using Brushes app. http://www.flickr.com/photos/lynnecazaly/6911730841/ May more people join the revolution!
I have just recently heard of sketchnotes, through http://sachachua.com/blog/, and wondered how people could sketch such nice stuff in a live situation. Thank you for the great tips. I have to go practice now!
Awesome article. Meetings were made for doodles: http://www.turnislefthome.com/33005/322449/work/sketchnotes
Great post! Have you seen Sunni Brown's TED talk on doodling: http://www.ted.com/talks/sunni_brown.html ?