Five fun ways to build visual thinking into your everyday activity

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…

1. Invest in an unlined notebook.
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? 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.
We all 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.

Good luck!

Want more tips? Join me for Secrets of Simple Graphics open course on September 5th. Sign up here.

Right Brain exercises for getting in the flow

Do you ever feel bombarded with messages that tell you you should be fitter, happier, eat more ‘superfoods’ and use coconut oil instead of shampoo?

It’s quite possibly the worst cloud under which to make plans, set goals and y’know, be a better person.

And the thing is, goals don’t really work if we only use one half of our brains. Typically we set goals using purely the left side of our brain – the side that works with logic, planning, structure and so forth.

Sure, all that is important but if we really want to set goals we are aligned with and feel excited about then it’s important to tap into the right side of our brain – the side that speaks to our creativity, intuition and imagination.

Here are a few fun exercises to wake up the right side of your brain:

* Draw a picture of a loved one, family member or pet without looking at the page you are drawing on (I can see that one turning into quite a fun dinner party game come to think of it).

* Stand up, reach behind your back and grab your right ankle with your left hand. Now grab your left ankle with your right hand. Alternate between the two until you begin to fill dizzy. (If you’re unable to do this simply imagine your left hand touching your right ankle etc. It will work just as well)

* Impress your friends with your new juggling skills. Yes, that’s right, you too can juggle with the aid of a friendly satsuma. Your task here is not to look at the satsuma but to stare at a fixed point in the distance whilst maintaining a sense of calm and dare I say it, smugness.

Exercises like these help us get into the flow of creative thinking. It’s when we’re in the flow that we get our best ideas. It’s one of the reasons I love drawing so much. It’s so absorbing and refreshing to be using the right side of the brain, especially when we live in a society which is oh so left brain orientated.

Give these exercises a go, and as always, let me know how you get on!

Want to learn more? Join me for Secrets of Simple Graphics on September 5th 2017.

How to spot good graphic facilitation

When I tell people what I do for a living, the common response is, ‘Oh you must be very artistic.’ I certainly don’t consider myself an artist. What makes good graphic facilitation does not necessarily make good art and vice versa.

You see, it’s not really about the little drawings, the fancy icons. People (myself included) can get really focussed on that.

It’s about so much more.

Graphics are about drawing out ideas and getting a message across, they’re about making ideas to come to life and getting everyone on the same page. They’re about communicating ideas quickly and easily. They’re about making people feel heard, appreciated and valued.

They’re not about producing works of art.

A good piece of graphic facilitation or graphic recording (often called a chart or a map) has many different components. When viewing graphics work consider the following checklist:

  • Is there a clear title? How does the lettering look? Is it legible? Are words spelt correctly?


  • How clear is the logic trail? Is it easy to identify headings and categorisation of themes and ideas?


  • Does it breathe i.e. is there enough white space?


  • How does the colouring look? Are the colour choices appropriate to the content? Is there a consistency to the use of colour?


  • Are the icons relevant and easy to understand?

So forget about art, think about purpose and whether the chart is serving the purpose at hand. Does it make sense? Does it serve the group?

Whether you’re hiring a graphic facilitator or interested in becoming one, keep this handy checklist close by.

And don’t worry if you feel you just can’t draw, believe me you can. All it takes is practice and a willingness to get stuck in.

Join me for Secrets of Simple Graphics on January 24th 2017 to learn more.

Five quick ways to use graphics in your training

Five quick ways to use graphics in your training

As a trainer or facilitator you may be curious about incorporating hand drawn graphics into your training design and delivery.

Perhaps you’re fed up with powerpoint, itching to try something new or have simply heard about the many benefits of using graphics and want to try them out for yourself.

At first hand drawn graphics may seem daunting, particularly if you believe you’re ‘no good at drawing’ or ‘not artistic’. Remember when it comes to using graphics in a learning setting the goal is to get a message across and draw out ideas, not to impress the group with your flair for fine art.

Here are five quick ways you can introduce hand drawn graphics into your training:

1. The Welcome Flip

You just can’t beat a friendly welcome flip when you enter a room. That’s right, it’s simply a flip chart with the word Welcome written on it, accompanied by a graphic. What graphic represents the word welcome? A cup of coffee? A sun? A smiling face? You choose!

2. The Meeting StartUp

I love the meeting startup. It’s basically a large paper template that outlines the agenda, roles, rules and outcomes for the day. The Grove Consultants in San Francisco have designed some great meeting startup templates – check them out here.

3. Burning Questions 

This is one of my favourites. Draw a simple picture of a fire on a large piece of paper and stick it on the wall. At the beginning of the session invite delegates to write down their key burning questions on post it notes (flame coloured, naturally) and stick them to the template. At some point during the session allow time to openly reflect on the questions posed to ensure questions and concerns are being met.

4. Reflection in Action sheet

Generally speaking at training events, delegates are often provided with blank sheets of paper to make notes on. Why not create a simple Reflection in Action template for delegates to jot down insights, ideas and suggestions as they emerge? Here’s the one I use. Feel free to create a template of your own – use lightbulbs, flipchart stands, target symbols, any outline you like to allow delegates to capture their learning in a unique and memorable way.
ReflectioninAction sheet









5. Head, Heart, Feet Finishing Exercise

I’m always looking for different ways to round off a training session and this is particular favourite.

Start off by drawing a person on a piece of flip chart paper (a stick man is absolutely fine!) and give the group some post-it notes.

Ask the group to jot down what they’ve learned (head), how they’re feeling (heart) and what actions they’re going to put in place (feet), and invite them to put their post-it notes on the appropriate place on the person you’ve drawn. (If, like me, you have a penchant for post-its you can even get some head, heart, feet shaped ones. Yes, I do get excited about such things…)

So there you have it, three quick ways to introduce hand drawn graphics into your training design and delivery. Have a go with one or more of the above suggestions and do let me know how you get on.

For more ideas why not join me for Secrets of Simple Graphics open course on September 27th 2019.