A few weeks ago I received an email from Michelle George, who had questions about the pens and Moleskine notebooks I use to capture sketchnotes. I shared my thoughts and about a week later Michelle emailed to share her sketchnotes:
It was very cool to see Michelle use sketchnotes at her event. I was curious to hear her feedback after trying out the sketchnote approach at the Global Leadership Summit she attended, so sent Michelle a few interview questions:
Michelle, I’m curious to hear how the sketchnote approach worked for you. Was it easy to do? Were there specific challenges you found while capturing your sketchnotes?
I found it difficult to start with because sketchnoting is a totally different style of note-taking to what I use most of the time. I occasionally work as a scribe in government recruiting processes, and that involves taking LOTS of very detailed notes during the interviews.
To get the speed and accuracy I need for that I type on my little laptop (Fujitsu Lifebook 1620P), and end up with three or four pages full of single-spaced notes after a 30 minute session.
The sketchnote approach forced me to slow down and process the information on the fly and what I ended up with was a much more distilled representation of the information.
The sketchnotes that I filled my little Moleskine with are about what was impacting me as the speaker delivered his or her message, as opposed to being a slab of recorded information that was disconnected from how I felt about it.
Once I got going it was pretty easy. I have doodled in journals for years, and have played around with graphic design a bit, and letting those things flow as I processed really was a meditative process. I loved it!
Challenges? Hmmm... yeah that my sketching ability sucks when I’m under pressure! Normally my drawings take several hours…to whip out a sketch in less than a minute takes some serious skill! Practice!
How do you feel about your sketchnotes after the fact? Are they easy to read? Did they capture the detail you had hoped for?
Usually I take notes at a conference, the notebook gets tucked away and I rarely go back over them unless I’m looking for material for an article, but with sketchnotes, they are like little pieces of art… I have to confess that I love looking at them.
I am really pleased with the way they turned out as a first attempt. I don’t think they are particularly aesthetically pleasing, or anywhere near as wonderful as yours, but I have enjoyed the process itself as well as going back over the notes.
I have found it remarkably easy to remember the context and even some of the mannerisms of the speaker, which is a real surprise to me given the notes are not a verbatim account of what happened at the conference. I would have liked to draw a little more to reinforce the words, but I think that will come with time as I practice.
Michelle, what do you do professionally?
I work for myself as a technical writer. I work with government ICT sections and small businesses to produce user documentation, process and procedural documentation, and help desk material.
I also do some scribing and editing work, and the occasional graphic design job. I am passionate about clear communication, and I am fascinated with the connection between the written word and good design.
Thanks so much for taking the time to share your sketchnotes and thoughts on using them!
Mike, thanks for the opportunity to share this stuff! I love the way the Net connects people all over the world!
You're welcome Michelle! Thanks for taking the time to talk and share your work. I hope it encourages others to try out the sketchnote technique at their next meeting or event.
(Ed. - Michelle lives in Canberra, Australia with her husband and two sons.)