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Visual Notetaking: A Beginner's Guide to Sketchnotes

Lesson 8 of 15

Getting Started: Logistical Planning

Giselle Chow

Visual Notetaking: A Beginner's Guide to Sketchnotes

Giselle Chow

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Lesson Info

8. Getting Started: Logistical Planning

Lesson Info

Getting Started: Logistical Planning

Um how do you set yourself up for success? So what are some of the logistical pieces things to think about before you begin before you're in the room and you're ready ready to go also we're going to talk about two different formats in terms of creating layouts one is the list when is the cluster both formats like every format they have their advantages and disadvantages so the key is really figuring out what are knowing what those are and then figure out what is going to work best for the job that you have to do and then how do you add mohr visual design elements and components that help emphasize and bring forth mohr meaning primarily we can do that throughout in borders connections metaphorical drawing that also tends to add meaning okay, that can be done in the moment it can also meet him after the moment. All right, so um getting started we're gonna talk a bit about and over serving getting an overview of of your jobs your task that day right getting some context also about the phy...

sical space so there are things that I need to be considered around physical space where should you sit? What should you think about okay and then when the content gets tricky what are some tips that might be helpful? Okay, so in terms of getting and overview and preparing before you start if it's possible and I am I I conceptualize this as if you were going to an event, a conference, and you were, and you were the sketch notre of the day, right? I realize that some people might be doing this on their own. The context might be different, but hopefully this is helpful for you. So if it's possible and this is around building context, right, if you could meet with the speaker, meet with the person convening it, um, meet with the event planner is always really helpful, so get a sense if you can, you can't always but get a sense of the flow of the day, the content. Is it a panel? Is it a single speaker? Is there, you know? Will there be a keynote presentation? If there is, can you see it? Can you get slides slide deck from someone ahead of time? I wouldn't rely too heavily on a slide deck of anyone says, yeah. I'm so glad you're going to be, you know, doing this for me here all my notes I would not spend a ton of time actually meticulously going through and figure out what shouldn't draw for every slide because I've never done this with a speaker and have them stick to their notes, right? They always go off in different avenues, different directions, which is great, but then you end up doing, like lots of on the spot work that you didn't think you could do. So that's not necessary time well spent if if you're if you're doing time but one to one, which I draw for this slide. Okay, but it does help you two haven't overall sense of the flow. Okay, also, um, important here is asking a speaker what are the top three things you want to make? Sure I absolutely capture, right? Is there something you really want to make sure that I get, um, if they can give you that information it's great. Asking if you can share it. Is this work that I can share publicly? Can I share it? You know, can I share it through social media channels? Are you okay with that? Can I put this in my portfolio to show other clients or the people that are interested in my work, um do you have plans to share it? What are those plans? How are going to be sharing my work right? Like how are you going to be crediting the work that I do? Okay, um if you can't to do that for some reason try to do a bit of your own research often times big panels, big conferences will post their agendas. Um, you can see the flow of the day you, khun, do a lot of research around a company, what their interests are, what their products are. There might be tricky acronyms, you know, there's some companies that speaking it seems like nothing but acronyms. You know, I work for the g r s team and the ellen d and the a and letters rhyme they sound alike, you know? So getting a sense of what those are, andi, even the hierarchy of those teams, you know, it can be conveyed helpful, just make you feel more or it is okay, um, before I know the overall general talk about that in a minute, but also doing your own research, what is the you know, what do you know about the company? Are you familiar with the iconography that they're going to use and that they're going to talk about? So if you are work doing something for a shipping company, are you confident in in drawing trucks and planes and ships you know that might be something that in your wheelhouse your super into so maybe you do know or maybe it's something you're gonna have to practice and spend some time developing some icons um sometimes what I'll do is I will print out images of, um icons are images I want to refer to and I'll have them on the floor I'll take them to the bottom of the board have them printed on my table just so I have them there so I can refer to them for the moment if I need to pull them out okay and then knowing the overall agenda so sometimes, um I go out on jobs and I'm there for the whole day so it's my job to be there and to track all the conversations sometimes I'm popping in to support one speaker who's presenting at a large conference for me it's helpful to know the big picture, right? So who am I supporting? Who were they in the context of this event, the crowd coming in have they just come in after like a huge huge keynote and this is like a breakout group or is this a, uh is this something that they're coming back to after a giant lunch? You know what I mean? It's just helpful to know the audience and how they're feeling what their level participation is before they get to you and what they're going to be doing after, okay, so it's a little bit about the overview thinking about that also, um, after you get a sense of the lay of the land, it's also good to get a sense of the physical space and imagine what you're going to need to feel equipped and ready and at your best, you know, your best self to be working in that space so prepped, like a girl scout, like more than you think you have to prep, perhaps like a prep to a point where you think it's kind of silly the level of detail, you know, you're actually utilizing, okay? And I know it sounds silly, but really confirmed the location. Sometimes places come to the come to the hyatt like, okay, I'll go the hyatt, wait a minute an hour before wait, which one? Which one? You know, it happens, right? So really good from the location. Who's your on site contact. How are you going to get there? How long is that going to take? If you're driving, where can I park, etcetera, etcetera? Okay, it'll really help you feel more more at ease. Okay um bring water and snacks and food even if they tell you you can eat even if they say, oh there'll be a break for lunch you'll be able to eat it'll won't be a problem um make sure you have your own food with you sometimes it's hard to get to the place physically where you are um sometimes or to me people sometimes you want to talk to you about your work right like, oh my gosh, have you ever done this? And I have this event coming and you're gonna want to have that conversation you're not going to be like excuse me have to go eat for now, you know, because they told me I could. So please bring your own food even a little stack water something, um extra pens and supplies tess trip ends the night before, make sure they aren't dry. Make sure you have the colors that you want to use um building extras you might find us, you do this work that I like for me. I love that light blue marker that some of you talked about, I have three of them, they're always ready to go, so I don't know that I have a market that will always work I free fill them all the time, right? So that's just something for me that helps me feel prepared um arrive early and settle in right so arrive early enough that you feel I know this is different for people but so you feel like you're ready to go you're settled, you're not jostled around you're not running around to find the room that that you feel ready to go um when thie speaker start speaking ok also if you are um sketch noting okay if you're doing this large scale publicly it's different because you're on stage in a different way but if you are sketch noting focus on I would say focus on where the speaker is going to be where if there is, you know a presentation where is that going to be? Um can you hear? I would sit in the middle? I think a tendency or a mistake I made early on is I want to sit on the edge of a row because I don't know I just figured ok, I won't sit on the edge that means I can get in and out easily if you sit on the edge people will be constantly passing in front of you, right? If you sit in the middle it's very rare, some will be passing right in front of you so minimizing those distractions I think is really important and sitting near the front even if you're kind of a back back row kind of kick it kind of person like your role is different so you're going to want to be in the front so you can hear and you could really pick up on the speakers, gestures, their emotion, the energy from people in the front. You're gonna wanna be there for that, okay, that's, the physical space. So you've arrived early. You know where you are? You have your sax, you're sitting there, you're in the middle of nowhere in the front, you've got all your stuff, your prepped once the event starts, it's a good idea to have a handful of tips to keep in your back pockets. Um, some of these air preventions and some of these are our interventions. I'll talk a little bit about that in a minute, so establish when and if you will interrupt and ask for speakers to repeat themselves. So if you're in an intimate group like this, right, I think I would feel very comfortable people are speaking to say, look, I'm sorry didn't quite catch that. Can you say that again? Um, you might be working or with someone who really doesn't want that want that to happen, right? So have that conversation, I would actually say push for advocating for yourself and saying, you know what, the end product will be better. If if I'm really allowed to kind of put my voice out there and say like can you say that again I really wanna make sure I capture that the way you want me to represent it so established that ahead of time when and if you'll inter robin asked for speakers to repeat themselves ok I would say that's a prevention right that's something you were doing ahead of time to prevent something from happening right best guess spelling on sticky notes so you saw before I had sticky note up on the board I haven't my kid what I do is if I hear a nun familiar word or an acronym as opposed to getting hung up and think I really don't know how to spell that I will grab a sticky note that I have at the ready I will write and my messy is writing what I think it is and I'll just put it up on the border all stick it on the page and that just tells me that I need to go back and figure that out at some point I need track that speaker down and you show them that notice that you mentioned this project this initiative can you tell me what that is can you spell that for me they're more than happy to help you out they want you to get it right you know um then you can get the correct information and you can add it okay, um, when in doubt, we talked about this earlier capture text first and add graphics later. Okay, so if people start listing things like, hey, give me some ideas for you know, um, what you think are some of the enduring values for our company, and people start like popcorn ing out ton of ideas, right at that point, in order to capture everything, it's probably a good idea to just do the straight text first and go back and fill in graphics later, especially when you're at the beginning stages. Okay. Oh, and get a copy of the agenda. Get an actual physical paper copy. Not like a scroll li on your phone. Like a big printed piece of paper so you can see who's up next. It's really think of it is like a spelling list. You know, it has all the titles of the session. It has all of them people's names spelled correctly, you know that, right? So use that is a is a map to guide your way through the experience. Okay? Just some content tips and some best practices. So you've got the content tips you're feeling prepared now, questions that I often get are okay, so I kind of understand how howto um capture content I know what I should be thinking about color lettering all that but I find that I ran out of space or I don't know like I get up to the right side the page and I'm like and I realised I should put this over here later like what? How should I tackle that challenge so preparing before you start um first always title in date your work especially if you do this more and more you might think I'm never going to forget the name that speaker I'm never going to forget like that event it was so moving once you start to do even more than five of these you will they will start to blur together okay, so do yourself a favor and really, um title in date your work always um they're usually titles for things already if there aren't asked asked the group asked the leader hey, what do you call this like what is this conversation called? What are some ideas around that you can get it out of the group? Okay, also when you title in date your work you were also creating your first design element so you're putting something down that you were gonna have to respond to so you're already making some choices okay it's a good idea to create a plan a and a plan b so creating to lay out options before you start to take notes so having your best case scenario scenario okay? So here's a conversation about um you know how to bring solar energy to people in developing countries for instance I think the conversation's going to go this way if it goes this way here is my best thinking around the format if it goes this way I'm going to do this instead so have those mentally in your mind even imagine or visualize thumb on the page before you start okay? So I talked before about keeping doors open toe options so create those open doors for yourself ahead of time before people start speaking she was your color palette early and set yourself up so pen caps off you might have like me like a beautiful rave penns you're not going to use every color right? So figure out what those colors are what color's my title what color? The subheds maybe there's a big pull out quote you know, um you know, look inside for answers, you know, peace peace of yourself like what if you if you find those nuggets that are really inspirational what color you want to put those in so figure that out beforehand other considerations how long is the talk? Is it a half hour panel? Is it an hour and a half single speaker and also how fast you right relative to the size of the page that you're working on that's a really individual measurement and assessment but you will start to get a sense of that as you work so for instance um when I am sketch noting and that size that you're working with that's probably from me about forty thirty five, forty, forty minutes right? If I'm working on a big four by eight like this um it's about forty five minutes to an hour right of content of someone speaking in a kind of regular serve cadence so you will get a sense of that but even try tracking it even right down in the bottom corner you know do a little time you know, little time art that was forty five minutes took me to fill up this page they will help you do some space planning as well if you know how long it takes you, um to fill the page knowing that also you need to be flexible. Okay, um now I want to show you two examples these air both my examples of uh, sketch notes that I made I'm going to show you one the first one is from october twenty twelve and the next ones from october twenty fourteen so these are two years apart, okay, I'm going to show you an example of a not so great approach and a somewhat better approach okay, so this is a chart that I did and you can see in the bottom corner it's october second twenty twelve this was for hope s f um it was a conversation a lecture that a friend of mine did on use abuse and addiction this is probably the first public graphic recording that I that I did so I just want to point out to you um what is what is so painful to look at this okay so what I might change or what I noticed about this now okay, so first of all um I'm not sure what this means anymore ao de continued what is a o d I don't know it was something now it's lost to the ages I don't know what that means use abuse addiction that's obviously a title and there's ah uh a definition on the other side I don't see how these things are relating to each other. Okay? That's all right um and then clearly I was into dopamine as an idea that's a really big I think maybe what happened is I got down to the bottom and I thought the talk was going to be over and I think I focused so much on these pieces that I realize I need to fill this with something so worth that really big on I tried to draw brain um these pieces down here are unified in some way but I don't know why I don't know why these air all in pink and they have clouds around them do you think I followed my own advice about limited color palette here? I'm like all kind of all over the place, so there's purple there's blue kind of might be hard to see from where you are but there's purple blue paint gray green black, another blue two kinds of blue, right? So not my best attempt right? An early attempt so I did it. I'm glad I did it I learned a ton you'll find that two every time you make something you will learn a ton will be things that you love about what you did and we'll be things that you always recognize you could do better that's actually one of the great powers of this methodology and actually why I enjoy it so much ok, so that's kind of a like annoy moment like, what was I thinking? So that's twenty twelve, this is twenty you can see this is october twenty fourteen so this is two years later of doing this a lot. Ok, so one thing to think about is this was my my job, right? So I wasn't doing anything else a lot of time to focus on this. This is a panel that I did, um for an art gallery um that's attached to the impact hub in oakland and it was a panel with josh healy, kevin epps and boots riley um, and you'll see a really different approach, right? It just looks more confident. Also, right? If you just kind of look at the difference, you know, ah, much more spare color palette. Pretty clear here. These were comments from the people in the audience. Okay, so I called them out, similarly tried to code them. Similarly, this was what this was, what the event was called was called hash tag no, art continued, this is the second page. Okay, um, I had these three quote, so these three phrases that that I attributed to issue the speakers, and you'll see that there's some formatting here, where you've got some kind of horizontal spaces on the left hand side, going across, and then you've got this cluster around the central image, right? So more for central image, a sense of the whole, as opposed to text with some imagery around it. Okay, so this just feels more unified, at least to me. Okay, so you'll see. And the difference here is, I thought about the colors I thought about what I want to dio I thought about the shape of the conversation where this one I didn't have so the wherewithal for that, yeah, so better example, how much of that sort of beautiful detail around, like the colors behind the hands and the colors behind the school's was filled in afterwards and how much of that are you doing on the spot? So I actually did all of this song us lot umm this was also conversation where people tended to give to tell, uh, give lots of examples, right? And it wasn't necessarily important for me to capture every example if the main point had been had been made, you know, so this I did in the moment and where did you start? Where did I start? Uh, I started, I believe boots was the first person to speak, so I think I started up here for him, knowing that there was gonna be a larger conversation of all of them over here, so it also shows the progression of the talk overtime for both of these they're continuations of, like, another part of it that you were doing so, yeah, if you're going to connect ideas between multiple pages, do you do that like horizontally where you put both of them side by side, or what? Your approach for that's? A great question so often in the spaces in which I work it's not possible because people don't have enough space, um, I've done one job where I actually had wall where I actually did one giant continual piece of paper all all day or two or something and there's a lot of benefits and being able to work on a continuous piece of paper but that often isn't the case, so what I would do is I would try to create that with color and with some sort of, you know, carrying over some symbols so the first page looks very similar to this one the colors are the same the shapes of the same right some people when you look at them side by side, you could tell that they were it's a continuation. Okay, so there's some examples another question you said, uh, when you go into a speaking event, you'd like to have two different visions for how the conversation's gonna play out the in the in the best example there how what was your vision at the beginning? What was the basic structure you had in mind before the before you actually reported that? Yeah, so I would say this one actually worked out a little bit I remember. Okay, so this part I felt worked out accordingly. I knew that they were going to be three people speaking and I was gonna have their things going horizontally, and I knew they were going to be comments from the audience, I don't know how many I don't know how long, and I didn't know if the speakers would be speaking to the points that the other speakers were making so I didn't know this was going to go back and forth conversation are not turns out it wasn't so my original idea was I could have these ideas um I could have if john like so for instance there's this comment like kids on the street already having community there, not just kids on the street, they're actually doing something but they're seeing his kids on the street, right? That was the comment if josh had said yeah because you know that's similar to you know, this idea, but I was going to write his response on the outside in the same green color, so I'm going to write the speaker's response, but it didn't end up playing out that way, so what I ended up doing was making them a little bit bigger as I went and take it more space so I could be sure to fill all of it and then showing some of the connections between some of the comments so that that went that didn't go as I thought, but it was okay um also I didn't know I was gonna pull out these ideas end up doing that at the closer to the end, you know, so I did not these two not appear in in order I kind of thought back about so the main point they made. I think I did kevin's first, and I filled in the other ones you can see, like, for some reason, I put this in the bottom, not the top. So there was something about the what happened in the moment that caused me to do that. I remember what it was.

Class Description

Graphic facilitation uses attention-grabbing images, colors, and words to represent ideas shared during meetings, conferences, and events. Learn how it is done in Visual Notetaking: A Beginner's Guide to Sketchnotes with Giselle Chow.

In this beginner-friendly class, you’ll learn how to actively listen and illustrate ideas in a whole new way. 

Giselle will teach you how to: 

  • Listen for relevant information
  • Represent ideas in text and graphics
  • Build an icon bank 
  • Use color and size for emphasis

Giselle is a consultant with The Grove and in this class, she’ll teach you how to make ideas leap off a page. Giselle will cover everything from preparation to execution and you’ll learn how to make a visual compendium of an event that can be shared with attendees and social audiences.

You’ll also learn about drawing connections in a way that makes information easier to retain and helps visual thinkers grasp new concepts and ideas.

If you want to add an exciting new skills to your design repertoire and learn how to make engaging, share-worthy visual notes, don’t miss Visual Notetaking: A Beginner's Guide to Sketchnotes with Giselle Chow. 



Wonderful overview of sketch noting with tons of opportunities to practice, learn, and refine skills! Appreciated the side benefits of recognizing sketchnoting involves active listening and the opportunity to practice that too. Thank you! 110% recommend this course.

Tran Phuong

Great fundamental skills for effective notetaking! I love Gisele and all her lessons! They are super easy to follow and understand. Would recommend it of course!

Lisa Houghton

I really enjoyed this class. I am a beginner sketchnoter and found it very helpful. Great pace and delivery by instructor. Every minute was worth it. Thank you!