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Visual Notetaking: A Beginner's Guide to Sketchnotes

Lesson 14 of 15

Practice: Strengthen Your Listening Skills

Giselle Chow

Visual Notetaking: A Beginner's Guide to Sketchnotes

Giselle Chow

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Lesson Info

14. Practice: Strengthen Your Listening Skills

Lesson Info

Practice: Strengthen Your Listening Skills

So for all of us we're gonna do one more round and as we do this think about what is the one thing that you want to work on for this next section maybe it's something that really works for you in the previous listening sections that she wantto work on some more maybe realized like oh yeah I could like stephanie I could do a little bit more with colors maybe that's gonna be your focus they just choose one thing there's so many things to remember that that I think really to focus just on one you know could be helpful so just choose one thing that you want to work on for this last section and then we will listen to the end okay? And then we'll do a similar round maybe from some folks we haven't told him yet so that's one whole set of questions um and often when you're doing uh so that's a whole set of questions the other set of questions so what do you ask if there's a whole other set of questions that are built around a listening sort of honest reflection and emotion so that's the other ...

stocking trait that's the other thing that you're going for right pretty simple two things um so what do you so what do you ask when when you're trying to get people to tell you um you know, tell you how they feel one question is how'd that make you feel it's pretty straight forward? Uh there's a there's a uh afrin joke that like doing a good interview for for audio and having a good sort of therapy session look very similar because what you are trying to do is get people to articulate their emotions in words all you have an audio are words that's all you have, you have people's words and so if they're feeling something it's like if something happens and you're not shooting it, it didn't happen if they're feeling something and they don't articulate it, it also didn't happen, so you need them to articulate the way they're feeling and so a lot of what you're doing is you're in the audience you're in the interview and you're like, I noticed feeling in your voice or in your manner and I want you to articulate that feeling um and so so that's one thing and so that's, how did that make you feel is a bit is it is a big one often you also want to encourage that kind of reflection. Some people just aren't very naturally reflective, but they've gone through something sort of momentous and you want them sort of like getting that getting the emotion in there so one good trick I've I've known is sort of like if the old new could see the new you what were the old you say um, because often you're going your interview about something that has happened to them, they have gone through some sort of transition and you want the you want that, um, moment you want them to be able to articulate with that transition meant to them. And these are all tricks we're going to use, by the way, on one of our audience members and coming up, uh, so we're gonna do a live interview, uh, coming up in another section. So, uh, so these are take notes because we're gonna have to employ this and you use this in action. So, uh, a lot of what emotion is around is around internal conflict. Um, so a lot of, uh and this is one of the things that I love about audio, which audio khun do uniquely well, is that it, khun give voice to interior sort of interior drama. Uh, if there is, you know, on television, you can sort of see people looking pensively or you can sort of like a concert. You can get across an internal life, but stuff has to happen on, you know, on tape, you know, it has to be happening. And with audio, you can if you can give people if you can get people to give voice to this to the internal conflict it has the power of any kind of real drama. So so what I often say to people is like, I'll often say like so conflict you're going for conflict but it could be conflict within a person it could be a person feeling conflicted about something and so a big question that I use a lot which is sort of like if you had to describe the debate in your head over this moment over this act that you took what was one side saying, what was the other side saying, you know, um and it's just getting people to sort of like voice this this feeling that they're having and often our feelings are contradictory, right? And so you want the and that's great if people have a conflicted feeling when you're interviewing them that's a wonderful thing to that's what you want because that's the way of breaking out of what you were talking about and which is the canned thing part of what being canned is is just sort of just having like a you know, sort of like a very, very straightforward feeling about it that you don't necessarily believe but you can't shake people out of and so what you want is to sort of like, get at like, you know what? What was the conflict was there ever a point where you didn't feel so confident confident about this was there ever a point where you like felt different, you know, sort of like you know and sort of and sometimes it can be just a simple as sort of like you seem very confident right now was that always the case you know? And if they say no, then just zero and had like, zero in on the weakness uh the emotion right like that's what you're that's what your job is right? Um another another question that I would often happens in an interview on objection this will this will happen to you as you're doing your interviews somebody will say something and it feels like very important to them like you they've said something that you know is meaningful uh you know and like, you know, you're talking to like a you know, um a rail yard worker and they'll be like, well, you know, and then the boss gave us like, you know, extra hours and they say it like you like, wow, the boss gave you extra you're saying it like it's important and I have no idea what it means, but it means something to you there's emotion in the voice, right? Like what does that mean? And so and often you and I would always flubbed this thing I would know that there was something that they were getting at, but they weren't articulating it to me and and then and then I will use this question use this question all the time and it's a really great question and it's super straight for it's just sort of like what do you make of that? And so I say it all the time now because like I'm often I just need them to tell me the reason that there's emotion in the thing that they just said um so what do you make of that is a really, really, uh really important question um the other thing that I think one of the most important things that we which is you know, sort of like part of the one of you make what do you make of that question again? Uh you sort of asked what you make of that and then you're it's sort of a dumb question uh you sort of feel like an idiot for asking it's like, sort of like, basic and weird and like it's not a question that you actually ask that often and normal conversation uh and so and this gets to the point of sort of like, are you having a real conversation? Are you having a staged conversation sort of to elicit certain things and you're doing a little bit of both right and what did you make of that is very much like a staged sort of their kind of conversation? You know what I mean? Er and so but really important is to then shut up. I can't get across enough the importance of shutting up, um and, like early on in my career, I would come back and I would just be talking so much, and people would start to be telling the interesting things, and I would be talking over them, and it was all because I was nervous and I was worried about, like, sort of making them feel uncomfortable, and you sort of want them to feel uncomfortable a little bit, not totally uncomfortable, so that they're not going to be like talking to you. You want them to feel you want them to feel safe, but you want them to feel like they're saying something really, which is often uncomfortable. So you wanted to be safe, you're not judgmental at all. You never want to be judgmental, but you want to be asking real questions. You want them to be thinking really, really about him. So another another just okay. So let's, stop there and let's do it. Something similar. So I started taking some notes during that last segments. That's. Probably about four. No, no, maybe four minutes or so. Um, let's, do something similar, so put your markers down, take a look. You know you can even even serve hold it up at arm's length that actually like literally do that it kind of actually helps you um look at your work more objectively teo look at it from farther away sometimes we're looking so up close okay and again let's hear from some more folks um what really worked what did you feel um worked well that was successful and then what might you change for next time? Okay let's hear from some other folks yeah suzy thinks well I what I think worked was that I used red and black and I used red for the instruction for me the interviewer and black for except for that one but black for questions to ask and things like that um and and I also I like I made a zipper for his mouth when he said and just shut up that's great and what I would do differently next time is I feel like it's kind of a messy layout or I didn't have an overall concept for for the flow I might rethink that yeah so maybe a little bit of pre planning next time but it was great and I love I love that that idea of the zipper over the mouth it's a really powerful image like I've been feeling like when I think about this later and that's actually what I'm gonna think about so yeah thank you yeah nice work what else yeah, so I was working on listening for that one big idea, but I'm still having trouble kind of reading out on being able to hear that because I think he has a repeating thing and I'm I'll be looking for the best and that's not, I just need to capture something, but the, uh but I'm pleased with is the fact that there's or the observation that there is a title and then it goes into, like, this big question, like, ask the questions that elicits stories, and then it says, and then shut up so it starts to build its own kind of narrative if you scan it, but I'm not pleased with is this big bounding bucks? Because then there was another additive story that's really similar, which is another set of questions, and I'm using the same visual form, but it's kind of outside of that, so I had to kind of figure a way to to soften this line and and that's troubling, right? And you realize you wanted it to be inside or you just didn't want it there after you today. Yeah, yeah. So, I mean, I think what's really powerful about yours is you have this progression. You know, from the heart of the interview and moves down like I can see the flow of the conversation within the larger format. And I think that speaks to sometimes it's so tempting to do those big boxes and those big borders, I have that temptation to but even to hang back, like, if you think about the chart that we did here is doing that at the very end, like when you're when it's done and people are clapping and people are filing out going, that was a great talk, like, maybe that's the time to define the spaces, you know, don't frame it when the paint's still wet? Uh, yeah. That's. Great. Okay. All right. One more. Anyone else? Ok, grateful. No one might actually feel like a mess right now, but I feel like what I do know what I did. A good job of I thought was I have these like dialog boxes to indicate what questions he was actually actively suggesting. So what, you were supposed to ask your interview? Your interviewee on dh. Then I had sort of separate square call out boxes for just general tips that came from alex's hamburg on dh then I was able to sort of separate out. At some point I realized that structure he was going for was emotion and narrative, but I didn't sort of figure that out until, like, halfway through, so I kind of structured emotion in narrative he's touched on earlier, but then I sort of built all those questions around, and then I realized I had to create a hole separate section for emotion, and so I ended up using a lot more colors than I would have initially chosen and it's a lot busier than I would have originally plan to fight on the structure look better, right? Right, which sometimes happens, but I think your your desire to create some sort of structure, you know, over what we see is is a grill it really great way to go in the way that you've created different shapes around alex remember versus other responses it's really clear even from where I'm standing it's really clear what you're going for that great, all right, excellent thes air, wonderful, you'll thank you. And, you know, if you have a moment actually go back to the very beginning, it might even be the first sketch that we did in the beginning of the day, and you will see, um, some of you did a little bit discussion shooting in the morning, um, and just do a little comparison you know, to what it looked like when you first arrived into the room, okay, so now we're going to take a minute, and we're going to look a tte what I did while you were working, so I didn't have the benefit of all the time that you had, but was able to capture a few things. So the first thing I heard in that in that segment was, what are some question questions for listening, good responses that give honest reflection and emotion? So those were actually the first, the first two things I wrote down, I knew I wanted to put an icon there somewhere, but he was already talking about audio in the power of audio, so I left that they're and I decided to come back later on, and also because I knew that this conversation was going to be a little wide ranging and because it was going to be short, I didn't really feel like I needed to be committed, teo, being really conservative about the space, so I actually decided to leave this open and start to work around this way across the top. So after that he started talking about this, this idea about audio, you know, and he brought it up earlier and earlier clip like in television, you can see people look consternation or see if there's anyone here that that piece we talked about was comparing tv and audio he did earlier and he did it in this clip briefly to so he said this piece which really stuck with me all you haven't audio or words so I did that and then I thought ok, well I could draw a little radio or a little boom locks and didn't have time but if I had time I draw little lines out here with you know, maybe it looks like this is coming out the speaker and then he started talking about um about how audio you need to give voice to interior er drama right so he spoke about that but then he started giving examples of questions you would ask right I thought okay, well these air this is something that I need to actually record somehow so he mentioned this one how did that make you feel if the old new could see the new you and then I came back over here because he started talking about howto how to create this a sense of conflict that it's internal conflict and I went back over here you seem very confident right now was this always the case um what do you make of that were some other questions that he noted so I started to collect these around here I put them all in black I had them all in these speech bubbles it looks like they're coming out of the radio so it's clear that these are some of the questions that you could ask the connected to this this idea? Um, somewhere in there, he started going off giving us some illustrative examples. I felt like I didn't have to capture that's when I came back, and I drew this figure looking down and, you know, the figures, reflection and in a large puddle and all peace with body of water, so they're looking at their reflection, and then this idea that I think some other folks picked up on that suzy picked up on this and then kind of get out of what get out the way, you know? So this did two things see, without it, it looks a little bit unbalanced. It's starting to get very, very kind of black text heavy, you know? So I thought, well, the next thing I write, I'm gonna wait for a bigger idea. I'm gonna place it down here because I know if I do that, then there's a little bit of ah then I'm picking up on the blue that I'm used up here. I'm going to write it in the same way, so that was some of what I was thinking about, what we went through it, um and then at some point there was also I think I mentioned this uh the mention of the conflict within so I thought just having someone there with a little concerned you know kind of thinking feeling conflicted inside okay somewhere along the way I also realize that this space up here was really empty and I thought well what can I put up here that shows the idea power or something and I was thinking about making something really powerful but I thought okay this is about podcasting or this is about something that's elektronik in some ways so having a power cord you know that that feeds into the word storytelling I thought it just made sense that was something I added later okay um before we move on any other questions that you have about anything that we have done today or things that came up for you as you were um creating that last set of sketch notes could also be about some of the pieces that we went over before around formats choices that you make logistical pieces thiss one er when you went back and did the figures um I guess when's like a when would be like a good time to go back and start I guess embellishing or calling out things would it be um like when he's telling his like narratives that we don't necessarily into court the whole thing is would that be like a good timeto go back I guess yeah I think that's a great time to go back any time you find that you have ample time we're down time you know it was a great time to go back and look and think what could you what could you add you know? So you know, if you think about if you think about you know, people that work, you know that working I always make this association maybe the work in restaurants or servers in restaurants you never see so we're just like standing there well hopefully like like doing nothing like if tables are occupied for a few minutes there's always something to dio right there's no way you can always like, fill the water yours check the bread you go so that's kind of the mentality I used um that you know that you have to attend to people in a minute but then while you're not what do the other things that you have to maintain, you know and so going back and in graphics taking a step back sometimes what I'll often do is I'll find myself working very close here and then you know, what I asked you to do is sort of look at your work from far away it's also stand back and take a look that'll give me some some cues about howto howto work the design a little bit differently also other questions at the beginning when I first started it was just like liste liste liste liste liste um I'm just wondering how you like make it really interesting but also the structure is there right? So regarding a list specifically or um not more like how do you get away from just the list? You know, yeah yeah so one thing that might be helpful one thing that might be helpful actually is you know, and I know that this this format makes sense because of the size of, um paper and it's a convention but when we work with paper this oriented this way we tend to default to the list because it's narrow at the top and it's very similar to the way you know that what we the way we wrote or took notes in school left her right and then talk to bottom like that. So one really quick way if your sketch noting is actually practice and some of you have done this is actually turn your sketchbook the other way and we're fun at landscape if some of you are in situations where you work with flip charts ah lot you know, flip charts always also follow thiss same you know the same shape, you know, I would say, you know, turn if you can turn a flip chart this way to work on it that way when you work in the landscape uh it's a panoramic way of looking at information it'll help break your habit of wanting toe list it's easier if you start I mentioned formy cluster starting over here you know at about three o'clock you know there's a lot more you could do if you start over there if you have paper oriented that way you know as well so um working that way khun b could be helpful um so that's one thing other things you can do is you know if you look it if you look at we're going back tio my conversation with kevin where do you take out of town guests in san francisco we determined that this is still a list but it's serving me a meandering list that goes along a path and then there's some graphics along the way I didn't quite finish all the graphics I would want to add but um because I could really make it look like a landscape that way but it's still a list in that it is sequential it shows a flow right you can see what comes before what comes after what but because it has this shape that is a little bit more let's say it's kind of funny kind of kind of square but because it kind of goes this way and that goes this way and goes that way and that way and that way it's a little bit more engaging than imagining something that looks like that right with checks like that because then you have these different stops along the way to create a different kind of a different kind of interest another thing you khun dio in terms of breaking away from the list um is if you have again if you're working this way you know the landscape way so I'm just gonna do this on top so you thought was your sketchbook you can still use this format you know still if you find that it's it's really ingrained in you teo list this way you can still do that but maybe do it in the middle you know? And then if you do that you've got your bullet points whatever here maybe you'll find that if you have this added room on either side that's a really great place to add the graphic you know or narrow that indicates something else right for some other diagram right? So you have room on the sides toe add another thing you khun d'oh that can be useful and then finally my gosh all these ideas finally nonstop um although today I put all of my titles at the top and justified to the left don't feel like you have to do that right? So what happens if you put your title in the middle power your podcast of storytelling and that goes in the middle right and maybe you have a circle around it and then maybe you're putting an idea here an idea here and a little image here, right? So putting I mentioned this very briefly but when you place your title it's like the first design decision you're making right so everything else has to be oriented around that if you put your title in the middle right in some ways you're little hemmed in because now everything has to go around the title but maybe that's a good challenge for you you know sometimes when I'm doing panels um I will actually have you know I'll draw a table down here at the bottom and I'll draw the people down here right the talk will go in here and then everything that people say that emanates you know kind of rises from the bottom to the top you know so there are lots of different approaches that you can do to break away from the list that kind of feels like a little tragical sometimes like oh here I am again doing the list you know it just feels like it's such a strong convention that we all use so those are just a few ways um that could be helpful okay great other questions all right yeah I guess I just had a general question um I'm having trouble deciding where to interject um imagery and icons um kind of just taking me like what text right now um like where do you how do you generally decide what points are like worthy of a nim ege or imagery besides like what you have time for I think we're whenever and you can add an image that is going to support what you've written that somehow going to support or help um that's a great time to add one or when one comes to mind for you sometimes they won't that's okay um but whenever you get the sense like oh that's gonna be made even more engaging if I pop in an image so there's that but I also think the more each of us develops your own icon bank the easier it'll be to actually have those images that you'll be connecting so some of it's kind of working at it from both ends you know it's thinking about in the moment you know that's the be in the moment what can I add here that would be really compelling but then there's the back there is the preparing which is ok I'm going to come up with five icons you know I'm going to come up with five go to icons that I hear all the time that I know we're going to come up and those will be the ones I used every time and maybe every week you make two or something um a way to practice icons is really what we did earlier today that's a great way to practice also what I tend to do is I will take note cards like for my six notecards and punch holes in them and put them on a binder. Rings have a stack of them. When I hear words often, all right, the word on one side, and then on the other side, I'll try to develop a nikon for that word, and then I just practice it over and over and over again. And then when I'm sitting somewhere, waiting for an appointment, do you think I'll just carry around with you? I just look through this ring of icons and words, you know.

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!