I run an unusual, but very fun business. I go to conferences and high stakes meetings and draw illustrated notes capturing the key ideas from those meetings. The resulting visuals help people remember and process ideas from that event. Usually, I create the visual notes on big sheets of paper that everyone can see. Then I take photos of the visuals and provide those to my clients. Below is a pic of someone looking at some of those large sized content visualizations from an event called the the Future of Storytelling which I supported a few weeks ago:
The above image is created in an extremely low tech manner: markers and pastel on paper.
I love working without a clunky computer interface—just my hands, drawing tools, and paper. I kept looking for digital tools that would provide something close to an analog drawing experience on my iPad. After much disappointment, I finally something that balanced versatility with simplicity–Paper, created by the startup FiftyThree.
Here are some examples of content visualizations using Paper. These are from an event where Eric Schmidt (Executive Chairman of Google) was discussing how he saw technology developing over the next 10-20 years:
There are some obvious differences with how I work with Paper App and how I work on anolog paper. 1) With the app, I don’t cram as much information into a single “sheet” as on actual paper. 2) The app’s output is digital, so I don’t need to photograph the visual notes to share digital copies. 3) Using the Paper App, it’s possible to send a set of drawings to FifyThree, and they will send you a full color printed Molekskine sketchbook of your drawings! Yes! I have not ordered one of these yet, but I am really excited about this idea as a kind of premium takeway for conference attendees. They call this offering Book.
So, next time someone contacts me about capturing the ideas swirling around their conference with visual notes, I am going to let them know they have options: on analog paper, or using Paper, the digital app with an analog feel. Let me know if you would like to learn more about how I can help the ideas at your conference or meeting have a more powerful impact by capturing them visually.
Here are some notes, resources, pictures and links for my University of the Arts workshop participants. We had a bunch of Masters of Industrial Design/Design for Social Impact students, one Industrial Design faculty member, one undergraduate I.D. student, and two Museum Exhibit Planning and Design MFA students. Everyone brought their own project, or projects, to work on.
Here are some highlights:
6 visual frameworks
Think of these six ways of visually representing anything as 6 cards. You can play them singly, or combine them any combination depending on what you want to explore or communicate.
What/Who—what: simple shapes to build anything, simple perspective who: faces, bodies in action
How much—-using size (e.g. bar charts, pie charts) or actual units (e.g. tally marks)
Why—multiple visual frameworks combined. Plus some explaining. Before and after visualizations often helpful.
Visual metaphors: We think in metaphors, both verbal and visual. Finding the right visual metaphor can be helpful for channeling thinking in a productive way. Some examples: a bridge, a garden, a tree, a vehicle.
Push (speaking) vs. Pull (listening) with graphics: when you present your idea to someone else using graphics, you are pushing that idea out to them. When you ask them questions and then visually represent those ideas, you are pulling their ideas out from them.
All things being equal, people tend to remember beginnings and ends more than middle parts of events. There are many implications to this. One of them is that it’s a good idea to give people frequent breaks if you are leading a workshop, so they have more beginnings and ends, and thus higher recall of the learning experience.
Story. Our brains love stories. For maximum impact, incorporate story into your communication. There are many definitions of story, but here is a simple one: There is a character, in a setting, who encounters a challenge, deals with that challenge, and is changed, or has changed others by the end of the story as a result of having dealt with that challenge. This simple story formula can be expanded with multiple characters, settings, and challenges.
Partner work: It’s great to serve as a visual listener for a partner, listening to them and visually representing your understanding of what they are saying. It’s also helpful to visually present your ideas to them to get their feedback, as well as to convey your idea.
Visually capturing for groups: similar to working with a partner, but make sure you work big enough for everyone to be able to see and read clearly.
Dot voting: A quick way to gather information about what people in group think is most important. Each person gets a fixed amount of dots which they place by whatever choice(s) they prioritize.
Feedback: I like getting written feedback at different points during a workshop. Then I use this to influence how the rest of the workshop proceeds. I like it to be written because this way, people are not influenced by what other people say, and also so that quiet people also get heard.
Photos from our workshop. If you upload any photos you took to flickr, please give them the tag:
Back of the Napkin, Dan Roam—goes in depth into visual frameworks.
GameStorming, James Mancufo, Sunni Brown, Dave Gray, lots of great group activities.
Graphic Facilitation (with DVD), The Grove, these folks use visual thinking to help groups have better meetings.
Make a World, Ed Emberley, simple approach to drawing iconically, using basic shapes.
Graphic Facilitators Guide, Brandy Agerbeck, a thoughtful book about listening to groups and turning what you hear into meaningful graphics as the group conversation unfolds.
Facebook “Graphic Facilitation” group. Free.
IFVP.org (International Forum of Visual Practitioners), has an annual conference.
Sketch Camp—These events occur in cities around North America (maybe around the world?). They explore sketching as it relates to work.
IAF-International Association of Facilitators, a resource if you are interested in learning more about facilitation.
My site: http://envizualize.com and http://envizualize.com/blog
Feel free to be in touch if you have any questions or thoughts, or if you want to update me on how your project is going. One of the 2nd year MID students showed me a visual she created about her hopes for the future of her project from last year, and told me it was all unfolding as she has visually represented! It was fun to hear that. Whether your project goes as visualized or not, I love hearing how things evolve, so keep me posted. Please let me know if I forgot anything significant and I’ll update this post with the missing info.
I lead mini-sessions on visualizing your strengths and visualizing your project. At the end I captured the concluding conversation visually. I work out of New Work City, so it’s great to come into the space and see my work hanging over one of the couches!
Just got news that Red Burns, founder and longtime chair of the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU died at home surrounded by her children. Red was not one for euphemisms, so I will not say she “Passed away” or “Went to a better place” or such. Everyone who met Red Burns has their own stories. And I have a few of my own, which I will share when I have time to go into some more detail. But for now, I just want to recognize that she was a BIG force in my life, and the lives of so many who work at the intersection of so many fields, endeavors, cultures, and life circumstances. In New York City, only the tough survive, and Red was tough. That toughness coexisted with a passion for people, creativity, and the possibilities for how technology can be used to bring out the best in people. My best wishes to her family and all the people who were closest to her.
Get ready to visually jam to create better user experiences for clients, better working tools for colleagues, and better professional experiences for yourself at UX Sketch Camp NYC. I am delighted to be part of the team that will make UX Sketch Camp NYC a reality, and I look forward to getting some ink on my fingers with you this fall at what will be an epic gathering in the Big Apple.
Sketch Camps have been popping up all over the place and we are finally getting one here in the Center of the Universe. About time.
A: A day of learning, sharing, and jamming with fellow UX practitioners, designers, and entrepreneurs on the topic of how to use hand drawn pictures, notes, and diagrams to get better results for clients and for yourself.
Q: How did UX SketchCamp NYC come about?
A: Marc Niola, a UX practitioner with experience in China and NYC met Dean Meyers and myself at the Lean Startup Bootcamp Will Evans taught at the Berkeley Center for Entrepreneurship recently. The idea for Sketch Camp NYC had been brewing in Marc’s head for awhile, inspired by other Sketch Camps which blazed the trail in other cities. One of the motivating ideas behind the workshop was to get an idea out there and make it real, fast. In this light, we decided the Bootcamp was the perfect launchpad to get set Sketch Camp NYC in motion. We reached out to MJ Broadbent (IXDA Treasurer, sketchmeister, and all around wonderful human) to join our effort and the seed of UX Sketch Camp NYC was born.
Q: What is going to happen at UX Sketch Camp NYC?
A: We are still finalizing the program, but this much is for sure: it’s going to be hands on, with lots of opportunity for your active participation. All comfort levels with Sketching welcome. You will delve into the how and the why of sketching in a UX context, with ample time for you to practice what you learn and share what you know.
Q: Where is it going to happen?
A: We are exploring venues now. If you have a lead on a good venue (e.g. you work for a company that has the right kind of space for this kind of event), please email me at jonny (at) envizualize.com
Q: When is it going to happen?
A: Once we have a venue, we’ll be able to schedule the time. Sometime before Thanksgiving.
NYC based Visual Coach Jonny Goldstein helps people achieve personal and business breakthroughs. He does this through coaching, workshops, and social drawing. Jonny’s coaching clients come from technology, design, and entrepreneurial backgrounds. They have called their visual coaching experiences “awesome” “productive” and “weirdly therapeutic.” When not coaching and teaching workshops, Jonny creates memory-boosting information murals summarizing the ideas bouncing around meetings and conferences. He performs at events such as Ignite NYC with visual essays about identity in the age of big data, primal fear, and new interfaces for tombstones. Jonny is a proud graduate of the Interactive Telecommunications Program where he created an electronics embedded bodysuit which let him speak with his future self (in the future, Jonny will still get beaten in foosball by practically everyone). His interest in creating memorable experiences led him to compete in the U.S. Memory Championship where he took 2nd place in the speed cards competition and in the Mind Sports Olympiad where he won the silver medal in mind mapping. He is proud to warp designers of the future as a visiting instructor at the University of the Arts Masters of Industrial Design Program. He is currently Visualizer in Residence at New Work City. More about how Jonny helps people like you rock at envizualize.com
Independent Experience Architect & Coach, Leader of NYC UX Acrobatics, and Founder and Executive Producer of UX Sketch Camp NYC.
Marc is a veteran Experience Architect with clients including: Publicis Kaplan Thaler, L’OREAL, Softsheen | Carson, Garnier and Melissa & Doug. He is highly active in the NYC UX community, leading NYC UX Acrobatics Meetup since 2012 and founding UX Sketch Camp NYC, as well as evangelizing UX principles to several start-ups, non-profits and SME.
Marc is also a regular speaker, particularly on the topic of UX Strategy and Service Design, with recent talks and workshops at 3rd Ward Brooklyn and NYU. He is also a leading member of NYC UXPA and when not coaching and problem-solving you can try to catch him riding his bike around NYC.
Mary Jane (MJ) Broadbent is a New York City-based design consultant who has been creating elegant visual solutions to complex problems for over 20 years. With a background in print communications, MJ began working in interactive design in 1996. She was named the first Director of Information Architecture at the Silicon Alley pioneer agency Icon Nicholson, where she helped establish information architecture and human-computer interaction as strategic practice areas within the cross-disciplinary product development process. MJ’s design expertise and leadership has benefited organizations including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bookspan (now DirectGroup Bertelsmann), The College Board, Empire BlueCrossBlueShield, H&R Block, Liquidnet, The McGraw-Hill Companies (Standard & Poor’s), Pfizer, Sony Electronics, and the United Nations. MJ coaches professionals in reclaiming their innate drawing skills: workshops at Interaction10, Interaction12, UX Australia, UX Week, and custom corporate training. She is in her second term as an IxDA Director (Treasurer) and holds a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. https://twitter.com/mjbroadbent
Visual problem-solver Dean Meyers combines creativity, design, marketing and training experience to facilitate visual thinking in a wide variety of business, educational and strategic settings. Dean distills his knowledge into simple principles and methods for decision-making and problem solving with visual tools. Dean employed his early training in visual and musical arts while working for Apple when they launched the first graphical user interface-based computer (Macintosh) in 1984. He moved into web design and development in advertising agencies and marketing companies in New York as the revolution in web development for business and commerce began in the mid-90s. Most recently, Dean has turned his professional focus on using visual facilitation across many disciplines, from user experience design to pharma and health, business, science, social and mass media, marketing, and education. He is currently on the Board of the International Forum of Visual Practitioners and a founding leader of VizThink NYC, holding regular workshops on using visual thinking methods to improve communication, business processes and life-skills for professionals. He is often seen graphically recording large-scale events focused on innovation (World Innovation Forum-NY, Pop!Tech, Business Innovation Factory, TEDMED), while also using the latest digital/online technology to run workshops, training and consulting on visualization for strategy and problem-solving across many disciplines.
From the “Draw Some Awesome” activity station at the NYSCI reception.
he Google Experience for Young Users, Part 1
The Google Experience for Young Users, Part 2
Visual Summaries, Al Fresco (Outside).
We wheeled out some of the visual summaries outside for better light for photos. I liked the way this image came out with people sitting in front!
Anne Balsamo and Eric Siegel
David Monina Sengeh
Young Makers from Sierra Leone
Photos from the “Draw Some Awesome” station at the NYSCI reception:
In the zone.
Artifacts, left behind.
Final note. This conference had a lot of resonance for me as a parent, as a former director of a technology education after school program, and as someone who has worked in the interactive design world. I hope the event was powerful, useful and delightful for you, and that you enjoyed your stay in New York City.
If you are interested in keeping up to date on how I am using visual listening to help support people who are producing great events and projects, feel free to subscribe to my occasional newsletter below.