Top tips for sketchnoting

Top tips for sketchnoting

So you’ve seen some sketchnoting online, bought a book on it or just thought to yourself, ‘How cool. I wish I could do that’.

I’m here to say ‘Of course you can do that!’ and here’s how…

With sketchnoting you listen, think and draw in real time. It may seem overwhelming but if you think about it most of us listen, think and write at the same time when we’re on the phone for example, or tuning in to a webinar, so sketchnoting is simply mixing up some of those words with images along the way.

Step 1: Choose your source material – will you listen in to a TED talk? Take sketchnotes at your next meeting? Create a visual map of the phone conversation you’re about to have with your colleague?

Step 2. Decide on a layout. This will help to add structure and flow to your final piece. Here are a couple to choose from:


Step 3. Decide on your colour palette. What colour will your lettering be? And your icons? What about highlighting?Sketchnoting is cool

Step 4: As someone once said to me, ‘Emer: Just decide and do’. The fourth step is the most crucial and the one where are most likely to slip up. Prep is great. I’m all for spending time on prep. That time is wasted however if we don’t just get on and do what we intended to. Make a committment to yourself and your learning.

Step 5: Reflect. What worked? What didn’t? What have you learned? and finally….

Step HeckYoureAmazing: Congratulate yourself for a job well done. Regardless of the output, you did it, and that puts you in the top 2% of people who take action from their learning.


P.S. Itching to practice your drawing in a supportive environment? Excited about carving out time for YOU to ignite creativity. Join me for the next open course and book now for Secrets of Simple Graphics June 24th 2021. Places are going fast!

Video: How to draw an elephant

Hello and welcome to this week’s Tuesday.

Today I’ve done something for the first time ever.

I recorded a ‘How to Draw’ video on my iPad.

Yes, this week we’re learning how to draw…an elephant.

Have you ever sensed an elephant in the room? Wondered if you should call it out or just leave it fester? Well now you can acknowledge the elephant in the room by drawing it out on a flipchart and bringing attention to it at the right moment. You could also ask others to name the elephant by adding post it notes to its head, give it a voice by adding a speech bubble and so much more.

I hope you find this video useful and I’d love to learn how you deal with the elephant in the room when you’re facilitating. 

P.S. Did I mention I’ve never done a video like this before? Please do tell me what works and what I need to improve on. Thanks so much!

Three quick ways to add drawings to your presentations

Three quick ways to add drawings to your presentations

Perhaps you’ve seen someone drawing live and thought ‘I can never do that’. (Tip: You can) Or maybe you’ve thought about turning your PowerPoint presentations into a series of hand drawn flipcharts and just never got round to it. 

Well here are three quick ways you can add drawings to your presentations this week. Honestly! Minimum prep required.

1. The introduction. 
As you introduce yourself draw a picture of your face. A circle, two dots for eyes and a smile is perfectly acceptable.

2. Your big idea
Draw a large lightbulb as you tell your audience what the topic of your presentation is.

3. Invite feedback
Draw a speech bubble at the end of your presentation as you invite the audience to ask questions and share their feedback.

And that’s it! By all means practice your three icons beforehand. The key ingredient here is bravery and a willingness to step out of your comfort zone.

Tip: If you freeze in the moment just write the words instead – no one will know any different.

So there you have it – three quick ways to add drawings to your presentations this week. Do give it a go and as always let me know how you get on.

P.S. If you’re concerned about what people will think or worried about whether your drawings will look ‘professional enough’ take a look at this research from Stanford university which shows that hand drawn presentations score higher than PowerPoint for engagement, credibility, recall and persuasive impact.

What to do when you don’t know what to draw

What to do when you don’t know what to draw

Ever feel that you’d like to do some drawing but you just don’t know where to start?

In my experience people can have a tendency to approach drawing with a strong desire to ‘get it right’. And it’s exactly this kind of rigidity, of pressure that can put the brakes on creativity. 

First, we need to take the pressure off. A flexible mindset and approach really helps here, for example saying to yourself  ‘Ok so I’d love to draw out our company vision but I don’t know where to start. That’s ok; I’ll get my markers out anyway, make some marks and see what evolves from there.’

Secondly, you just need to put the pen to paper to begin. It’s good to have a couple of warm up exercises up your sleeve like drawing a continuous curvy line and then simply colouring in the areas that emerge (thanks to Diane Bleck for this one).

Another thing you can do is simply copy out a drawing. Recent research from the University of Waterloo, Canada has shown that the mere act of tracing over or copying out a drawing has positive benefits for creativity and memory. 

By now your creative juices will be in flow so it’s time to consider a framework for your drawing. Ask yourself, ‘What are the key components of this drawing?’ so for something like a company vision you may wish to include ‘Mission’ ‘People’ ‘Key Strategies’ ‘Resources’ ‘Goals etc.’ Close your eyes and see the picture that comes in to your mind for each category. A sketchy stick person image is better than no image at all.
(If you’re stuck you can simple describe the image in your head in words and research how to draw it later – Google is your friend here)
1. It really really doesn’t have to be perfect – it’s all about the process, refinement can come later.
2. You don’t have to think of an image for everything!

Doing this as a team is particularly powerful. An incredible energy emerges when people are thinking and drawing together. Remember it is about the process. Trust in the process, go through it and have faith in what will emerge. (Do reach out if you’d like some support with igniting creativity in your team.)

Drop shadows in lettering

Drop shadows in lettering

Have you ever decided to add dimension and appeal to your lettering by adding a shadow effect only to ask yourself, ‘Hang on, where does the shadow fall on the S?’

If you have, you’re not alone. 

Last week as part of Heather Martinez’s Level Up Your Lettering course (highly recommended) in Amsterdam I got chatting to fellow practitioner HermanWeeda about this very topic.

Whilst I routinely think of the sun as coming from the top right and hence my shadows are ‘left and bottom’ (if you wish you can think of the sun as coming from the top left – remember to always be consistent in your choice – in which case your shadows will be ‘right and bottom’) there were often some letters, such as our friend the S, which left me a little puzzled.

Right there on the spot Herman created a drop shadow alphabet in Photoshop and emailed it to me. I’d love to share it with you too:

So the next time you’d like to add shadows to your lettering you too can use this as your reference guide.

Big thanks to Heather and Herman! 

A great (free) hand lettering resource

A great (free) hand lettering resource

I’m blessed to have two parents who worked as primary school teachers and as such have beautifully legible hand writing. 

Unfortunately the apple fell very far from the tree in my case. On more than one occasion has my handwriting been described as ‘a drunken spider sprawled across the page.’

As a visual facilitator however I am mindful of the need for legible hand writing. It is an ongoing work in progress.

What joy then when I cam across Heather Martinez’s excellent online resource, ‘Unlock your Neuland markers’.

Once I slowed down, took the time to absorb the information in the course and gave myself a chance to pratice I began to see results. 

I highly recommend this free resource to anyone looking to take their lettering to the next level. 

As Heather says ‘Whether you are a seasoned graphic recorder or just started sketchnoting an hour ago, here you can access a series of free lettering videos that guide you through the process of unlocking your Neuland markers.’

You can access the video series here

I’m delighted to be joining Heather in Amsterdam next month for her Level Up Your Lettering workshop. I believe she has a few spots left on her London course also running next month. More info here

I’m not on any commission or anything by the way, I just really like Heather’s work and I reckon you will too 🙂