Case Study: Secrets of Simple Graphics Online with Rachel Weiss

Case Study: Secrets of Simple Graphics Online with Rachel Weiss

We caught up with Rachel Weiss, who attended Secrets of Simple Graphics Online in June 2020, to ask some questions about her experience.

What motivated you to attend the training in the first place? What problems were you experiencing that you hoped the training would address?
Our work at Rowan is intangible since we deal with emotional intelligence, ie managing one’s own thoughts and feelings our responses to others’.  I hoped that simple graphics would help me illustrate our work more vividly than just talking about it.  I wanted tailor-made images rather than searching for a suitable, copyright-free image online.  And I wanted to have some fun!  I hoped that creating graphics would become a new lockdown hobby.

How are you using what you’ve learned?
In several ways!

  • I’ve used simple graphics to illustrate our COVID-19 precautions for returning to face-to-face counselling and coaching
  • At business networking events, I’ve used basic graphics to support my 60-second spiel on Rowan Consultancy services
  • I’ve also used simple graphics as part of my slides to illustrate talks on Mental Health Awareness

What kind of results are you getting? What kind of feedback are you getting?
On the COVID-19 poster, the graphics help to keep the human touch, in what could otherwise be a forbidding list of injunctions. In networking events, people have told me that they will remember Rowan’s services better because of the graphics.  The graphics helped me stand out from the many other businesses each giving their 60-second overview.

What would you say has been the overall impact of using visual thinking/simple graphics in your work?
I feel embarrassed about sharing my very imperfect drawings, so it has made me be vulnerable and pushed me out of my comfort zone, which is good for me since I am used to being competent.  The graphics make our training slides stand out from the usual stock images and grab the audience’s attention, even if it’s just to marvel at my chutzpah in sharing such scrappy graphics. When we return to face-to-face work, I believe that drawing simple graphics live will make my training more engaging and also give participants time to think while I draw.

What would you say to someone who is considering going on the training?
If you want to learn a new skill, enhance your training or talks, and meet interesting people, then sign up for Emer’s Secrets of Simple Graphics course. The more you put in, the more you will get out, so allow time to practice each week and take the risk of sharing your imperfect drawings.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you Emer for a great course, your mixture of support and challenge helped me grow. I improved my graphics skills and countered some of my self-critical thinking and assumptions about competence. It was particularly encouraging to learn that a graphic only needs to be 30% accurate to be recognisable.

 

Rowan Consultancy works in partnership with people to help them lead more satisfying lives through counselling, coaching, training, and mediation. Rachel founded Rowan in Perth, Scotland in 1997, now they have a network of over 50 consultants from London to Inverness.  In 2017 Rachel founded Menopause Café, a charity arranging pop-up events worldwide, where people meet to drink tea, eat cake and talk menopause. 

The artwork in this article has been created by Rachel.

Feel inspired by Rachel and keen to get creative? Book your place now for the next Secrets of Simple Graphics Online 6-week course.

Case Study: Secrets of Simple Graphics Online with  Emma Williams

Case Study: Secrets of Simple Graphics Online with Emma Williams

We’re speaking with Emma Williams, who attended the inaugural Secrets of Simple Graphics Online back in April 2020, to ask her a few questions about her experience.

What motivated you to attend the training in the first place? What problems were you experiencing that you hoped the training would address?
I wanted to top up my skills following the face to face course, provide a creative outlet for myself in these weird times and learn how to use graphics digitally.

How are you using what you’ve learned?
I have built graphics into all aspects of my business. From pictures for my blogs, social media, and newsletters to using drawing in my virtual training events. I have drawn ‘live’ on the whiteboard and encouraged my participants to draw out aspects of their learning using pen and paper and then sharing it over zoom. I also use it now to plan and plot – I’m a visual thinker but it is lovely to have things that look nice too!

What kind of results are you getting? What kind of feedback are you getting?
I have had comments about the pictures in my newsletters and normally no-one says anything! Also, I think the participants enjoy the variety of visual things in the VLT (Virtual Live Training).  My son, age 13, asked me to help him with his art homework!!!

What would you say has been the overall impact of using visual thinking/simple graphics in your work?
I feel it adds another string to my bow, gets me noticed, and benefits my participants.

What would you say to someone who is considering going on the training?
It’s so much fun! Don’t be afraid if you are at stick man level. Just a simple frame has transformed my flip charts!

Anything else you’d like to add?
Emer is so warm and welcoming you will have a great time and it’s a real boost to your confidence.

Emma provides career illumination for PhD+ researchers having ‘been there and worn the lab coat’ herself. Working face to face, virtually and with online courses, she helps these bright people make the most of their fixed-term contracts to navigate towards the career of their dreams – even if they don’t know what it is yet!.

All artwork in this article has been created by Emma.

Feel inspired by Emma’s experience? Book your place now for the next Secrets of Simple Graphics Online 6-week course.

Video: How to draw a symbol for icebreaker

Video: How to draw a symbol for icebreaker

Are you ready to break the ice?

When facilitating or training I often use a form of icebreaker to ease people into learning.

And whilst mention of term icebreaker can at times invite a rolling of the eyes, any occasion where I experimented with no icebreaker felt strained and uncomfortable.

And hey, icebreakers don’t have to be lengthy. There’s a lot to be said for a short ‘n’ sweet exercise.

In today’s video we look at how to draw a symbol for icebreaker.

Click on the image below to take you to the video.

Top Tip: Draw this image on a flipchart in advance of a session and then invite the group to share their ideas for icebreakers using post it notes. Vote for the favourite. You’ll have much more buy in when people are involved in the creation of the exercise.

Enjoy!

Emer

Why you don’t have to be good at drawing

Why you don’t have to be good at drawing

You really don’t have to be good at drawing to be an excellent visual thinker and here are three reasons why:

1. First and foremost ‘good at drawing’ is a very subjective benchmark. It takes us down the slippery path of ‘What is art?’, the kind of question I left behind in Cork along with my MA in Philosophy.

With visual thinking and graphic facilitation our focus is not on ‘art’ or ‘good drawings’, our focus is on helping people to understand something, to share ideas and to enhance communication.

2. I always say visual thinking is 50% skill and 50% mindset. You can be the world’s greatest artist but if you’re plagued with perfectionism or never take yourself out of your comfort zone then you’ll need a real mindset shift in order to be a great visual thinker.

3. Research has shown that your drawings only need to look 30% like what they’re supposed to be. Our brains fill in the gaps. So even if you’re working with a group and your drawings are really sketchy, this sketchiness in fact increases engagement as we examine the meanings of the drawings. The drawings are not ‘done’. They allow for growth, expansion and exploration.

And who wouldn’t benefit from some of that in these changing times?

All the best,
Emer

Sketchnote: The Growth Mindset

Sketchnote: The Growth Mindset

Recently I’ve found myself immersed in Carol Dweck’s book, ‘Mindset: Change the way you think to fulfil your potential.’.

It was Dweck who came up with the notion of the growth mindset i.e. a way of thinking where you believe that you have the potential to learn how to do whatever you want. Someone with a growth mindset relishes challenges, is open to new ideas, likes to try new things and believes that the effort they put in determines their success.

I often say a visual thinking mindset is a growth mindset – with visual thinking we step out of our comfort zone, we are open to new ways of working and we test old limiting beliefs such as ‘I can’t draw’ or ‘I was never good at art at school so I’m going to be hopeless at this.’

And really, it starts with the belief. The more you believe you can do something the more effort you’ll put in and the more effort you put in the greater your sense of achievement. This achievement then reinforces your positive belief that you really can do whatever you set your mind to. And so the virtuous circle continues.

And if your starting point is a negative belief? If you genuinely believe you can’t draw/do an Ironman/solve quadratic equations?

Then look for evidence that challenges this. Recall past successes where you overcame limiting beliefs. Consider other ways of assessing your belief. Seek out evidence that supports the (true!) belief that you can do anything you set your mind to.

All the best,
Emer