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 geoffreybaines.com and thinsilence.org

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.

How to solve problems using visual thinking

How to solve problems using visual thinking

Ever feel stuck?

Simple drawings are a powerful tool to shift us from a feeling of inertia to one of clarity and control.

If you’re grappling with a problem and haven’t been able to settle on a solution try drawing it out.

By simply drawing out the who, what, when and where of your problem you will soon start to see aspects you hadn’t considered till now. This act of putting pen to paper, of thinking visually allows for new ideas to form and solutions to emerge.

Want to take it further? Here’s your step by step guide (with thanks to David Sibbet):

1.      Focus the issue – who, what, when, where
2.      Start brainstorming solutions – one idea per post-it
3.      Group the notes and label the headings
4.      Discuss each proposal
5.      Vote on the most promising
6.      Discuss top three – pros/cons of each option.
7.      Make decision

This becomes particularly powerful when we start working as a group to solve problems and several ideas emerge.

Solving problems as a group and not sure everyone has bought into the decision? Tune in next week for a quick technique that tests this and ensures everyone is on the same page.

To tap into your creative problem solving skills don’t forget to book onto next week’s Secrets of Simple Graphics course on April 26th 2019 Book now >>

Three fun ways to colour in quickly

Three fun ways to colour in quickly

You know those colouring in books that are really popular at the moment? The mindfulness ones with the intricate designs?

Well I’ve thought about getting one.

However the truth is…everytime I think about it another part of me wants to get out my biggest fattest chunkiest marker and scribble like crazy all over the beautiful designs.

There, I’ve said it.

When it comes to graphics, and especially when it comes to working live with a group, we can’t afford the luxury of painstakingly perfect colouring in. After all, we’re there to serve the group, not our artistic egos.

Here are some fun ways to colour in quickly – with each method colouring in can be done behind or around the image (often quicker) or inside the image.

1. Crosshatching

Crosshatching is a pattern. Here are some other patterns you can try:


2. Chalk pastels  – this is messy, fast and fun.

chalk paint

3. Shading – I like to use grey for shading (think: where is the sun coming from? and then you’ll know where to shade. For example if the sun is in the top right corner your shading will be left and bottom); other colours are just as effective.


I hope you enjoy these tips. Don’t forget to check out the open courses page for the next Secrets of Simple Graphics date.