6 reasons to learn Sketchnoting

12 Dec, 2019
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“And that is what I love to do the most!" was the last sentence that Laurens said during his presentation at the Xebia Bootcamp, five years ago. I was surprised by the stuff he showed and said, I’ve seen so many presentations during the ‘Hi Welcome @ Xebia Bootcamp,’ but this one inspired me the most. Sure it has something to do with us both being creative people, but it mostly came from the passion and love for doing what you do, which Laurens showed us.

After his talk, while bringing my teacup to the kitchen, I decided: ‘I’ll do this Sketchnoting training once!’ I decided to focus on improving my marketing skills and personal growth first, but knowing what I know now, I should have started with the Sketchnoting training. I’ll come back to that later. So, I finally attended the training ‘Agile Sketchnoting & Graphic recording’ by Laurens Bonnema and his co-trainer Maira Camu.

What is Sketchnoting

Sketchnoting, also referred to as visual notetaking, is the creative and graphic process through which an individual can record their thoughts with the use of illustrations, symbols, structures, and texts (Wikipedia, 2019).


1. Sketchnoting helps you keep focus.

A colleague passing through the hallway, a ringing phone, the sound of construction workers from outside the building, a message on my iPhone, it all triggers my brain. I get distracted very easily. An office with glass walls is so pretty, but it doesn’t work for me at all unless I find a way not to get distracted so fast. And so I did. 

As a kid, I was asked why I was drawing all the time, and if I could look at the teacher instead of my notebook. “Miss van der Wal, could you please pay attention? The way you behave is respectless." – But I was paying attention, really! And there it was, another lesson on the hallway instead of in class. This happened so many times. Without knowing it myself, I was sketchnoting all the time; it helped me concentrate on what the teacher was telling me. I was protecting myself from distractions, and it helped me to stay connected to what someone else was telling me. 

Of course, some people get distracted faster than the others. But remember, this is something which happens it our brains; we need to receive those incentives to recognize danger as soon as possible. Something else which is funny – and we all do this – if you are searching for a name or y, and it’s on the tip of the tongue, you will look to the ceiling or sky, to rid distractions and remember sooner. Wonder why you always come up with the best ideas while you’re in the shower or on the toilet? The less distraction, the more room for focus or creativity. 

2. You will remember more. Way more.

Many studies proved that combining visuals and text is more effective than text-only. (Gilbert, 2016) Adding visuals to notes activates other parts of your brain that would otherwise lie dormant. The combination of visuals and text make it super powerful. 

One of the things that Laurens told me during the Sketchnoting training which stuck in my mind ever since is: “Sketchnoting will make you remember 29% more of what you hear”. And that’s a lot, again, a lot! Which manager doesn’t want you to remember 29% more of what he tells you, what is discussed during meetings or talks at conferences? That’s why I think I should have started with the Sketchnoting training. Can you imagine what I would’ve known now if I had remembered 29% more of all the information people had shared with me? 

3. It’s fun and relaxing.

I think I don’t have to explain this one that much. We all would like to get paid while doodling, right? Of course, that’s a joke. After this blog, you will understand, Sketchnoting is more than just drawing or doodling. After finishing this one-day training, I went home, ordered some food, poured a glass of wine, put on some music, and started to sketchnote my vacation in Thailand, which brought me in a very calming mood. 

4. Filter what people say, what is essential, what isn’t?

A lot of people love to talk a lot. And many companies have a ‘meeting culture.’ Instead of sharing information for a few minutes, we love to take a full hour. One of the many useful insights Laurens shared during the training was: “If it’s said only once, it’s not essential. People repeat themselves when something."For someone who gets distracted very easily, Sketchnoting is excellent because it helps you summarize all the information in a way that requires your attention so that you will remember 29% more – you will remember 29% more! 

5. It helps make complicated things simple.

We know the brain is easily triggered to recognize danger, and images and colors are a more significant trigger than black and white words. By visualizing the information, your brain will understand it faster. In the last paragraph, we’ve also learned that filtering important information helps to understand what a person really wants to tell you. The combination of filtering and visualizing information makes your life so much easier! So, why complicate things? Let’s keep it simple!  

6. You don’t have to be Pablo Picasso to do this!

The first thing we were asked during this course was: "Do you think you can draw?" Not many attendees raised their hands. Lesson number 1, you don’t have to be Pablo Picasso, you don’t have to be an artist, everyone can do this! We can all draw a circle and a line, and we can all write. That’s all you need, but of course, like everything in life you would like to get better at, it requires practice, practice, and practice! 

Sketchnote practicing - Rachèl van der Wal.

Interested? more information here: Agile sketchnoting and graphic recording

Resources: Gilbert, N. (2016) Sketchnotes: The What, Why, and How of Visual Note-Taking.Retrieved at: The What, Why, and How of Visual Note-Taking on Learning Bird Blog

Wikipedia (2019) Sketchnoting on Wikipedia.


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