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Sketching outside the box: Visual thinking for teams

People are unique in their ability to communicate abstract concepts using symbols and language. After all, that is where the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” comes from. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that expressing yourself visually (as well as verbally) improves the likelihood that others will not only understand what you are trying to say, but also retain the message. A picture has a way of showing ideas and solutions that would have remained hidden if you hadn’t picked up a pen. But a good picture doesn’t eliminate the need for words. It just reduces the number of words we use, so that the ones left behind are the most important…

So why is thinking visually so important?

When working in complex environments and trying to influence change in the workplace, it is essential that we are equipped with the knowledge and tools to tap into different styles of learning. Recent studies show that 65{6b0d2667ce3e862a710371ddcad071d42f80ce355f6c975cf5f5e426d041b86a} of people learn and retain information more effectively by seeing words, as well as images. In contrast, only 30{6b0d2667ce3e862a710371ddcad071d42f80ce355f6c975cf5f5e426d041b86a} of people learn through verbal communication alone. So if you aren’t one of the 65{6b0d2667ce3e862a710371ddcad071d42f80ce355f6c975cf5f5e426d041b86a} of visual learners, someone in your team probably is!

Incorporating visual thinking into your day to day work can reduce the length of meetings by 24{6b0d2667ce3e862a710371ddcad071d42f80ce355f6c975cf5f5e426d041b86a} – primarily by providing a shared record of the discussion, effectively stopping “turntable” discussions. A visual record makes it possible to capture the emotions of the conversation, bringing the human element to the forefront making it more likely that the team will remember what was said. Visual Thinking is particularly powerful during facilitated sessions, creative whiteboard discussions, problem solving meetings, as well as in retrospectives to help unpack challenges and serve as a reminder of the actions agreed by the team. Using graphics you can create visual metaphors for the team and help others see the “big picture”.

Luckily, you don’t need to be an artist to think visually! Join us as we co-create a visual vocabulary you can practically apply at work or in your personal capacity (during studying and learning). We will take you through the elements essential for visual thinking, as well as some ideas for visualizing concepts. No PowerPoint slides allowed!

This session is for anyone who needs to innovate, invent, analyze, come up with solutions, ideate, solve problems, retain information and build up their confidence to pick up a pen.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Improve your facilitation skills by incorporating visual thinking elements (typography, bullets, color, sequence, faces and people, containers, shading and basic shapes)
  • Learn how to incorporate visual elements into your note taking (otherwise known as sketchnoting or infodoodling)
  • Gain the confidence to overcome your fear to pick up a pen and draw in front of others

Angie Doyle Bio: Prior to becoming a consultant, I worked in the business process outsourcing industry where I pursued ways to make businesses more effective, more efficient and more capable of adapting to an ever-changing environment. So when I was introduced to Agile a few years later, it was a perfect fit! I now devote my time to anything related to business agility.

Talia Lancaster Bio: I have always been a “compulsive note-taker”. In meetings, training, and conferences I have always used this as a way to concentrate and understand certain topics. Over the years this doodling has evolved into more of a visual note-taking technique or sketchnoting. I love that this form of note-taking activates the four modes of learning: audio, read-write, visual and kinaesthetic / movement. Thus people reading them will hopefully remember the presentations more vividly, and those who missed it have access to some of the ideas. The skill of visual thinking has helped me add value as a Scrum Master, which is my profession in the Agility team at IQ Business, and whenever I get a chance I am a Sketchnoter…


IQ Business Park

3rd Avenue Rivonia, Johannesburg, Q3 Learn & Share (There is a Gautrain bus stop nearby for those interested)

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