Creative Note-Taking 101: Draw Your Meetings
Looking for a how-to on creative note-taking 101? You’ve come to the right place! At Ink Factory we’re huge fans of taking your own visual notes for meetings. There’s no more creative way to take notes than to draw them as a visual summary!
Taking notes is essential to a successful meeting, but it’s often a challenge to write up notes that fully capture all the important details discussed. Plus, going back to read notes from previous meetings can be a huge headache! Drawing your meeting content (aka visual note-taking) allows you to engage your colleagues with the power of visual communication.
Be the star of your next meeting! By mastering three core skills, you’ll be well on your way to creating much more organized, useful, and inspiring notes for yourself and your colleagues!
Listening & Drawing Live
Visual notes are both useful and impactful because they’re drawn live-in the moment-as the content is said. Even for people with good drawing skills, listening and drawing live can be a challenge. And in meetings, you don’t want to miss important action items or updates.
Visual note-taking isn’t a one-to-one ratio of drawing and talking. We’re drawing content anywhere from 3-5 minutes behind what is being said. That’s because we’re listening, filtering, and synthesizing information before we draw it (plus the physical act of drawing takes time, too!).
A finished visual note highlights the key points of a conversation, as well as includes some supporting details that give context to those key points. Our goal is almost never to capture every piece of information that was said in a meeting–that’s pretty much impossible! Instead, we have to filter what we hear to represent those key points.
This requires the listener to be engaged in the conversation–actively listening–so they understand the content. The note-taker must use their critical thinking skills and cues from the speaker to determine what content is most important to record. Our goal is to reflect the dialog with as little bias from ourselves as possible.
To help determine key content, visual note-takers listen for “cue” words from people to let us know when something important is about to be said. Words and phrases that we listen for in meetings include things like:
- In summary…
- To drive this point home…
- I don’t want to lose this point…
- Let’s put this in the parking lot
Agendas can also help you determine key content. Always relate what you’re hearing back to the topic of your meeting–that will help you determine which ideas are the most important.
In addition to filtering out content, we also synthesize what we hear. That means pairing similar ideas together in visual ways. For example, if in a brainstorming meeting, two people contribute the same general idea in slightly different ways, we might draw a large icon to represent the main idea, with two arrows coming off that icon to represent each subtle variation of the idea. Or, if the discussion circles back around to a topic mentioned earlier, the visual note-taker will often draw additions to those original notes and visuals rather than creating a new section. This kind of critical thinking and synthesis is key to creating effective notes.
Now that you know how to listen for the most important content in a meeting, it’s time to take that content and arrange it in an organized way that reflects how important each piece of content is. At Ink Factory, we use visual hierarchy to clue the viewer into the importance of each point.
To establish key points, we use visual cues like size (making a point large), color (making a point very vibrant), and contrast (making a point bold). To establish supporting points, we basically do the opposite, writing and drawing those smaller, less colorful, and less bold.
In the above example, you can see the range of content hierarchy, and how artists cue that visually using the scale on the right of the image.
Connectors & Containers
Visual note-takers use connectors and containers to visually organize the information they capture. Connectors are the lines, arrows, dots, or any form of eye-guiding elements that go from one point on the page to another, causing your brain to connect the two points. Containers are anything that acts as an outline around the text on the page, like speech bubbles, thought bubbles, shapes, or even objects.
For beginners, it’s helpful to stick to putting key ideas in containers, and connecting them to their supporting points with connectors. Check out this blog for more in-depth explanations on when and how to use connectors and containers.
Take a workshop on composition to improve your note-taking
Of course, we can’t cover everything there is to know about creative note-taking in meetings in a blog post! Want to learn note-taking for meetings from the pros at Ink Factory? Sign up for our August workshop on Visual Note-Taking for (Virtual) Meetings or purchase the recording! Build up your fundamental skills and learn insider tricks on drawings visuals, our favorite tools, and more from our professional visual note-takers who take visual notes in meetings every day.
August 14 | Online
Visual Note-Taking for (Virtual) Meetings
This 3-hour workshop will cover composition, handwriting, listening, and basic visuals for visual note-taking, and how you should apply that to taking notes in meetings.