People learn in a variety of ways, such as watching videos, listening to podcasts, reading books and articles, and exploring hands-on. For everyone fortunate to have good vision, visuals such as pictures, illustrations, or diagrams, are a universal and powerful way to learn and understand information.
Your brain is a supercharged visual processing machine. At one glance, your brain can interpret incredible amounts of information. The old saying, "a picture is worth a thousand words," is a vast understatement.
In 2011, I finally got up the courage to give my first talk at a user group meeting. Since then, I've been on a journey of encouraging and motivating folks in technology to be more awesome, through speaking at events, writing, and creating videos.
By 2015, I had accomplished a lot. I had written numerous articles and spoken at dozens of conferences, including an International conference. With practice, I had improved all of my skills. But, I felt like something was missing. It didn't seem like I was having much impact on my readers and audiences.
In my desperate search for a cure, I came across a video of Dan Roam describing how simplified hand-drawn illustrations can make a significant impact on presentations. I was hooked.
I had a brand new talk to give at Orlando Code Camp 2015, and I made it my goal to draw a few of the slides. Once I got started, a few slides quickly escalated. I couldn't stop.
When I gave that talk, I instantly knew it was a game changer. Those drawings made me a more comfortable speaker. I was able to tell my story exactly the way I wanted. The audience was far more engaged. The feedback was amazing, and was exponentially better than any of the talks I had given in the past.
Illustrations have been an integral part of everything I've done since. Not just for presentations, but for articles, videos, and any other type of communication. Drawing "sketch notes" has also become a great way to take notes and is a powerful way to learn and retain new information!
How to Start Your Journey
I firmly believe you can take advantage of the power of drawing, too! There's no such thing as "bad" art. Whatever you create, even if it's very poorly drawn stick figures, people will love it! I promise.
Drawing is something you can do right now! Grab some paper and a pencil, pen, or marker, and start doodling ideas!
Drawing well is a skill you can learn. It will take practice and learning techniques to get better.
Some techniques you can learn or your own through experimentation. Study illustrations you like and figure out how you might reproduce the same look in your own drawings.
Watch others draw on YouTube. Some of it will look like magic. That "magic" is a combination of lots of practice and a collection of techniques. You can learn magic, too!
You can buy excellent courses on Udemy for as little as $10 when there's a sale. That's less than two drinks from Starbucks!
Digital Drawing and Software
These days, I rarely draw on paper. I use an iPad and Apple Pencil. My favorite app for drawing illustrations for presentations and articles is Sketches Pro by Tayasui. I also use Adobe Draw or Affinity Designer for specific types of illustration or design work. In my opinion, the apps available for the iPad are the highest quality and easiest to use.
- Tayasui Sketches (iOS, Mac, and Android)
- Adobe Draw (iOS and Android)
- Sketchable (Windows) - I've used this a few times, and it appears to be the best drawing app currently available for Windows
- Affinity Designer (Mac, Windows, iOS)
- "Visual Thinking" by Williemien Brand
- "Show and Tell" by Dan Roam
- "The Sketchnote Handbook: the illustrated guide to visual note taking" by Mike Rohde
People to Follow
These are the slides from my talk on this subject, "Drawing: How to be a Superhuman Communicator."
- Be Patient and Keep Practicing
- Captivate Your Audience Using Simple Illustrations
- Doodles: A Learning and Communication Superpower
You Don't Need Permission to be Awesome
You may not realize it yet, but you are awesome. I believe you can make a significant, positive impact in your workplace, community, and the world, through the power of technology. Share your knowledge and experience with others! Use your own hand-drawn illustrations to make it fun and memorable!