Presentation secrets: six ways to increase engagement

Presentation secrets: six ways to increase engagement

Presentations can often be challenging – all eyes are on you, expectations are high and there’s no room or error. Or is there? 

Here are six simple ways you can increase participation and engagement when delivering a presentation:

  • Focus on your connection with the audience and see your presentation as a relationship building exercise.
  • Ask open questions. Show genuine interest in the opinions of your audience which means..
  • …not viewing your presentation as a finished piece that needs to be ‘pushed out’ but rather as an opportunity to develop and shape existing thinking.
  • Use silence. This is an incredibly powerful tool. Build in opportunities for your audience to reflect in silence before sharing their thoughts.
  • Express vulnerability and credibility. Sharing a challenge you have overcome, for example, is a great way to communicate this.
  • Use simple images to tell your story. These can either be pre drawn in advance or drawn live in the moment. 

And finally, remember it is ok to make a mistake. That’s what makes us human after all.

Five quick ways to build visual thinking into your everyday activity

Five quick ways to build visual thinking into your everyday activity

Excited about visual thinking and graphic facilitation but a little daunted about the work involved?

The best way to use visuals and graphics is to enhance the work you are already doing. This way graphics don’t become an extra item on your to-do list, rather they make the to-do list just a bit more interesting…

Here are some quick wins you can start with today.

1. Invest in an unlined notebook.The beauty of a blank page
Whether you’re a fan of A4, A5 or the tiny A6 choose a notebook that is line free. It’s much easier to get into the habit of drawing graphics when presented with a fresh clean white page.

2. Ditch the biros.
Biros tend to suffer the same fate as socks and teaspoons – they disappear into an unknown vortex never to reappear. So why not bring some colour into your life and opt for a fine nib set of markers such as Berol Fine Tip or Neuland FineOnes? Don’t be surprised when people ask for a copy of your notes at the end of a meeting.

3. On the phone? Make visual notes.
The next time you’re on the phone to someone use a combination of text and graphics to jot down what they say (with the aid of your unlined notebook and fine tip pens). It’s fascinating to look at afterwards, especially when it brings home the fact that yes, your sister did spend the last 35 minutes waxing lyrical about her latest squeeze.

4. Pimp your to-do list.
Many of us use to-do lists. They tend to be long, tedious and without end. Inject a bit of interest by adding a graphic to each item on your to-do list. This is also a great way to remember what actually needs to be done!

5. Design a template for an action plan.
Whether or not you take minutes at a meeting more often than not there will be an action plan at the end. Why not design a graphic template for this that you can reuse over and over again? Far more interesting than just another list…

My last tip is to share what you’ve created with your networks. Take a photo of your visual notes and share it on Twitter or LinkedIn. The positive feedback you receive will encourage you to keep going.

For more tips and in person practice why not join me for Secrets of Simple Graphics on September 27th 2019. Book your place now >>


Turning reports into one page visuals

Turning reports into one page visuals

I’m working on a couple of projects at the moment whereby I’ve been asked to take a lengthy report (anything up to 50 pages and beyond) and turn it into a one page visual summary.

After all, who has the time or energy to read through a 50 page report? And even if you do, are you able to recite the key points afterwards?

It’s so powerful to have a one page visual summary so people can readily digest the information, grasp the key points and furthermore, remember what those key points were.

Would you like to be able to do this with your own reports? Here are some steps to consider:

1. What are the three biggest takeaways from the report? If you really had to choose only three, what would they be? 

2. Do these points take the form of a narrative? If so what 

sequence do they follow?

3. What are the crucial supporting points for each main takeaway point?

4. Does the content lend itself well to a particular metaphor?

5. What images come to mind when you think of the content?

Still stuck on ideas? Read the report then immediately record yourself talking through what you’ve just read. Don’t talk for longer than three minutes. Listen back and jot down the key points. Develop a visual for this. 

I hope this has helped you to think about what is possible for your reports. If you want to take this further you can:

1. Build your visual thinking skills by signing up to Secrets of Simple Graphics

2. Speak to me about 1:1 visual coaching (or commissioning a piece) 

You could also…just go for it! You may already have all the skills you need. Remember half the battle with this kind of work is making the commitment to getting out of your comfort zone and giving it a bash.

Inspirational TED talks

Inspirational TED talks

When it comes to doing something new, to stepping out of our comfort zone, it’s important to feed our soul with inspiration from a myriad of sources.

This Tuesday morning give yourself the gift of inspiration and tune into one of these fascinating TED talks.

1. Rachel Smith, Drawing in class
Did your teacher ever give out to you for doodling in class? Were you ever told you should be paying attention instead of drawing?
Take another look…

2. Andreas Gaertner, How graphic recording reduces complexity
Watch as Andreas demonstrates the power of graphic recording and its role in making the invisible visible, thus creating a better understanding of the world around us. 
Please note, the video is in German. Use the settings icon on the video to select English subtitles.

3. Patti Dobrowolski, Draw your future
Do you want to make a change in your life? You need to see what you’re aiming for in order to get there. Drawing out your future is one of the most powerful and simple ways to reach your goals. Patti shows us how.

Enjoy, and let me know which talk inspired you the most!

Matters of the Heart

Matters of the Heart

On the topic of what sets your heart alight, this month’s guest article comes from dreamwhisperer and doodler Geoffrey Baines. 

Before you embark on any path ask the question: Does this path have a heart? If the answer is no, you will know it, and then you must choose another path. (Carlos Casteneda)

I once read, “Do what you love and love what you do.” My path has come to include a lot of pictures.

In 2014, I set out with the intention of blogging every day as long as I could include a new doodle for each post. (I’d never doodled before but I’m hugely indebted to Hugh Macleod whose writing and doodling left me thinking, “I can do that.”) It’s now 2018 and I’m still blogging and doodling every day.

This flows in to and out from the futures-mentoring work I’ve been developing (dreamwhispering), helping people turn their dreams intoFlowers the stories they want to wake up to and live every day. I’m finding the best way of making the invisible visible is to literally draw it out, so I’ve been doodling my notes for quite a few years and am now developing different “canvases” to help people see how and where their talents, dreams and experiences meet.

Some may think this visualising of life is a modern trend but art is really our first language, – we’re just rediscovering this.

Coming out of the blue has been a commission for a colouring book. I’d no idea how I would do it but I said yes – because I feel I really love this path I had stumbled upon.  And if people want to explore their own path with a heart, there’s an online resource to support them.

I’m 58 years old so I would say it’s never too late to begin. Turn up every day and push what you love to do a little further and produce something every day no matter what it looks like.

If you want to find out more about Geoffrey’s dreamwhispering  and doodling, check out and

Made the right decision? Quick visual confidence check

Made the right decision? Quick visual confidence check

So you’ve made a decision as a group … everyone has contributed their opinions, you’ve assessed the pros and cons of each proposal, you’ve even held a vote.

But how confident do you feel that the right decision has been made?

Did some people agree to the decision just to get out of the meeting early?

Got that niggling feeling that maybe not everyone is exactly on board?

Time to run a quick confidence check (with thanks to David Sibbet):

  • Draw a line from 0 to 10.
  • Ask each person to rate how confident they are that the decision made was a good one, with 10 being completely confident and 0 as having no confidence.
  • Everyone calls out their number and make x marks at the appropriate place.
  • The result will be a graphic picture of confidence.
  • Ask the people who provided the lower ratings to talk about what would need to happen to make them fully confident.

Try this the next time you need to make a decision and as always let me know how you get on.