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May
17

Three Ways Live Drawing Engages Your Brain

You’ll never see meeting minutes the same way again

Visual note-taking is becoming a widely recognized way of capturing valuable information in meetings, classrooms, conferences and pretty much anywhere dialogue is created and exchanged.

visual note-taking in a meeting

Never heard of it? Visual note-taking, also called graphic recording, scribing, or sketch noting, has been a tool used by meeting facilitators since the 1990s. Only recently has it expanded into fields like education, trade shows, and conferences.

How does it work?

The process of visual note-taking occurs in real-time and involves four steps: active listening, filtering, synthesizing and drawing.

  1. First, an artist actively listens to what is said
  2. Second, they filter out extraneous information, and identify key concepts
  3. Next, they synthesize these concepts by finding common themes and connections
  4. Finally, they draw these concepts, themes and connections using illustrative text and visuals. These visuals act as metaphors for complex ideas, helping people remember and easily connect ideas

There’s strong science behind visual note-taking

The reason more and more companies are turning to artists to draw their meetings, conferences and trade shows are because visuals are powerful influencers on the human brain.

Audience members take photos of visual notes

1. Our brains love visuals

Our brains were made to process pictures. 80 percent of the information we process every moment is visual and 20 percent of our brains are used purely for vision (Tate 2015). That visual system in your brain interacts with at least half of the rest of your brain; so taking notes using visuals is more attuned to the way our brains actually work. After all, 65 percent of people learn better visually (Yapton, 1998).

Visuals engage your brain

Sixty five percent of people learn better visually

Visual note-takers develop drawings that act as metaphors for the ideas behind your content – acting as “bookmarks” in your brain. When companies talk about growth, it can be drawn as a tree or growing plant. Innovation can be represented by a light bulb, and operations can be drawn as interlocking gears. Similar broad or abstract ideas are made more tangible when paired with a visual metaphor. When you associate an idea with an image, you’re more likely to remember and understand that concept.

Audience members look over visual notes

Color visuals increase a person’s willingness to read by 80 percent

Visual note-taking also engages your audience’s emotions. Color in visual notes can also catch attention and trigger emotions that help people better engage with content. Having trouble getting people to pay attention to “boring” content? Researchers have found that color visuals increase a person’s willingness to read by 80 percent. (Green, 1989).

 

2. Drawings make your content more memorable

People “remember 80 percent of what they see and do, 10 percent of what they hear, and 20 percent of what they read (Lester, 2006). Words are abstract and difficult for the brain to retain, but visuals are concrete and more easily remembered – a concept in psychology called the Picture Superiority Effect (Krum, 2014). So when you’re in a meeting discussing the goals for the future and strategy, and a visual note-taker draws symbols to represent those goals, they’re easier for the room to reference and ideate on.

Illustration of a team looking at visual notes

And we’re not just talking about an increase in short-term recall – visuals stick in our long-term memory, unlike text. A study found that participants who viewed only text remembered 10 percent of what they read after three days. But those who viewed text paired with visuals remembered 65 percent of the information three days later (Medina, 2008).

A visual note-taker draws at Chicago Ideas Week

Visuals are concrete and more easily remembered

Our ability to recall pictures is far better than our ability to recall words. In fact, “we can remember up to 2,000 pictures with only a little learning, and recognize them days later” (Tate 2015). Since visual notes summarize conversations with pictures, they make those conversations more memorable.

 

3. Visual notes make your content easier to understand

Our eyes are constantly looking for concepts to latch onto – and we are much better at finding concepts in visuals than in text (Trafton, 2014). In fact, the brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text (Semetko & Scammell, 2012). That means when visual notes are incorporated into a conference or meeting, most of the audience will be able to understand what’s being said more quickly.

A visual note-taker draws at a conference digitally

Visuals during meetings creates more ideas, creates better ideas, and increases recall

Seeing content presented in a non-linear way can help audience members to more easily draw connections between information and concepts. Often, visual note-takers will intuitively draw physical connections (like arrows, lines, and paths) between related content, guiding the eye from point to point.

“These sorts of visuals are effective in brainstorming,” says Martin Eppler, professor of media and communication management at University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. “We’ve found in our experiments that using visuals during meetings creates more ideas, creates better ideas, and increases recall” (Averett, 2014).

Visual note-takers use color in strategic ways to help you understand and navigate content. Color is proven to improve readership by 40 percent, learning from 55 to 78 percent, and comprehension by 73 percent (Embey, Johnson, Colorcom).

Visual Notes are the Answer to Information Overload

Struggling to engage your coworkers in meetings? Having trouble explaining a complex process? Want a better way to strategize for effective action? Visual notes are the solution. For better information retention, understanding, and engagement, Ink Factory’s experienced team of visual note-takers are ready to draw your next event. Get in touch today to discuss how you can take advantage of the power of visual note-taking.


Sources

Andrade, J. (2010). What does doodling do? Applied Cognitive Psychology Appl. Cognit. Psychol., 24(1), 100-106. doi:10.1002/acp.1561

Averett, N. (2014, February). Science of the Creative Mind. Inc. Mag, 86-87.

“Business Papers in Color. Just a Shade Better”, Modern Office Technology, Colorcom, July 1989, Vol. 34, No. 7, pp. 98-102 

Childers, P. B., Hobson, E., & Mullin, J. A. (1998). ARTiculating: Teaching writing in a visual world. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook.

Embry, David, “The Persuasive Properties of Color”, Marketing Communications, October 1984.

Green, R. (1989). The Persuasive Properties of Color. Marketing Communications. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from http://www.office.xerox.com/latest/COLFS-02UA.PDF

Ink on Paper: Some Notes on Note Taking. (2014, January 28). Retrieved August 30, 2016, from http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/were-only-human/ink-on-paper-some-notes-on-note-taking.html

Johnson, Virginia, “The Power of Color”, Successful Meetings, June 1992, Vol 41, No. 7, pp. 87, 90.

Konnikova, M. (2014, June 2). What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades. The New York Times.

Krum, Randy. Cool Infographic : Effective Communication with Data Visualization and Design. Indianapolis, Indiana: Wiley, 2014. Print.

Lester, P. M., Ph.D. (2006). Syntactic Theory of Visual Communication. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from https://blog.kareldonk.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/SyntacticTheoryofVisualCommunication.pdf

Levie, W.H. & Lentz, R. ECTJ (1982) 30: 195. doi:10.1007/BF02765184

Manktelow J. Yapton, (1998) England: Mind Tools, Ltd.

Medina, J. (2014). Brain rules: 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home and school. Seattle, WA: Pear Press.

Mousavi, Seyed Yaghoub, Renae Low, and John Sweller. “Reducing Cognitive Load by Mixing Auditory and Visual Presentation Modes.” Journal of Educational Psychology 87.2 (1995): 319-34. Web.

Tate, Andrew. “10 Scientific Reasons People Are Wired To Respond To Your Visual Marketing.” Design School. Canva, 19 May 2015. Web. 16 May 2017.

Scammell, Margaret, and Holli Semetko. SAGE Handbook of Political Communication. London: SAGE Publications, 2012. Print.

Schott, G. (2011). Doodling and the default network of the brain. The Lancet, 378(9797), 1133-1134. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(11)61496-7

Udomon, I., Xiong, C., Berns, R., Best, K., & Vike, N. (2013). Visual, Audio and Kinesthetic Effects on Memory Retention and Recall. Journal of Advanced Student Science. Retrieved August 31, 2016.

Zacks, J., Tversky, B., & Schiano, D. (2002). Graphs in Print. Diagrammatic Representation and Reasoning, 187-206. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from Springer Link.

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