The Surprising Benefits of Visual Notetaking

Meetings are a universal part of conducting business. And just as universal is employees’ disdain for meetings. The complaints vary—from unproductive and off-topic to uninspiring and boring. In fact, a recent Bain & Company survey found that senior executives rated more than half the meetings they attended as “ineffective” or “very ineffective.”

But meetings, conferences, and presentations aren’t going away. The Bain survey also found that, on average, senior executives devote more than two days every week to meetings involving three or more coworkers, and 15% of an organization’s collective time is spent in meetings—a percentage that has increased every year since 2008.


A visual note-taker draws live in a large meeting


What Are The Benefits of Visual Notes?

So how can you improve the effectiveness of meetings? What’s the key to making group ideation, problem-solving and collaboration work better? At Ink Factory, these are questions we help companies answer all the time. One proven solution we offer is visual note-taking. The benefits of visual note-taking make it a powerful way to improve meeting effectiveness and engagement.


An illustration explaining the benefits of visual notetaking


Visual note-taking (also called graphic recording) is the process of drawing ideas in real-time using simple words and pictures that act as metaphors for complex ideas. Because visual notes align with how people learn best—visually—they are a proven tool for helping people remember and easily connect ideas and concepts shared in settings like meetings, conferences, and brainstorming sessions.

Our team of experienced artists has helped companies in a wide range of industries all over the world use visual note-taking to create memorable, engaging meetings. And this isn’t simply our opinion. Science is on our side. Here are four powerful benefits of visual notetaking.


The benefits of visual notetaking include increased information retention


1. Visual note-taking makes content more accessible

People are much better at seeing concepts in visuals than text1. In fact, the brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text2. This means when visual notes are incorporated into a conference or meeting, the audience will be able to more quickly process what is said.


The benefits of visual notetaking includes improved comprehension


 2. Visual notes promote comprehension

Research shows that when content is presented visually, people have an easier time drawing connections between ideas, leading to more and better ideas3. If you’re discussing complex information or want your audience to actively share ideas, visual note-taking can help drive understanding and participation.


An audience member snaps a photo of visual notes at a conference


3. Visual notes improve recall

We remember 80 percent of what we see, but only 10 percent of what we hear4. This is because words are abstract and difficult for the brain to retain, but visuals are concrete and more easily remembered. If you’re educating a group about a new product or process, visual notetaking can help people better remember key information.


Visual notetaking increases emotional connections to your content


4. Visualizing content creates emotional connections

Thanks to the wiring in our brains, visuals cue emotional responses. These emotions are responsible for the decisions we make, and how well we remember information. Incorporating visual notes into a meeting or event is a great way to drive engagement and participation.


Ryan drawing on large living mural at RiotCon


Want to see the impact of visual notetaking in action? Check out our recent post—Who’s Using Visual Notetaking?—for a look at how companies like Autodesk, Whole Foods and the Chicago Theological Society are benefiting from visual notes.



  1. Trafton, A. (2014, January 16). In the Blink of an Eye. Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America.
  2. Semetko, H. A., & Scammell, M. (2012). SAGE Handbook of Political Communication. SAGE Publishing.
  3. Shiv, B. (2014, February). Science of the Creative Mind. Inc., p. 86.
  4. Lester, P. M. (1996). Syntatic Theory of Visual Communication. Fullerton, California: California State University, Fullerton.