Why draw at work?
If you just heard for the first time in your life that anybody in an office job is drawing on the job, you might be inclined to think that person is just doodlin away instead of doing their actual job. But what if I told you, that by drawing, they can actually do their job more productively?
There’s four situations where you can be more effective if you use drawing techniques in your work:
- Presentations without powerpoint
- Making visual notes
- Tell stories in a better way
- Document meetings
Let’s dive into these in detail:
Presentations without powerpoint
The dread of everybody working in an office: Endless meetings with endless Powerpoint slides, killing even the most durable attention spans. In a world of endless slides, it’s refreshing to see a handmade presentation just on a flipchart, with explanatory drawings instead of piles of text. The person presenting can present the big picture at once as well as going into the details on a flipchart, all while providing a visual anchor for your thoughts to hang on.
Making visual notes
There’s a ton to be said for making visual notes or sketchnotes. We process information faster and can remember it better, if the information is presented in a visual way instead of only a written one. Also it’s faster to draw the picture of something in seconds instead of describing it in verbal detail in a multitude of the time needed. And if you made sketchnotes to a talk or meeting, just looking at the individual drawings provide you with a visual anchor to what was said at the time you noted that down. At least that’s how it works with my sketchnotes for me.
Tell stories in a better way
You’re working on a new product for your company. After doing customer interviews, you want to tell your team about potential improvements in your customers “customer journey”, the part in the life of a person where they discover a problem and try to solve it using your product. You could write an essay about your customers day, what problem she encounters and what happens once she finally solves it. But if you just draw it, even with simple stick figures, you can’t only explain the process more easily, but also you have something to point to in discussions with your team.
This one is similar to making visual notes, with the difference that the notes you’re making here are to be legible for others than just yourself. Also mostly you’ll do these on a flipchart, whiteboard or some digital medium. Drawing what has been said doesn’t only help document the process, it also proves whether or not you understood people correctly. And like in the storytelling example, you can use the drawings as a base for discussions.
I’m sure there’s a lot more occasions where your work can benefit from drawing skills. I find that drawing is not only great fun itself, but also a valuable tool to think differently about our world. Like with every tool, it’s important to recognize where you can use it, and where you’re better off using a different one («If your only tool is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.»)
And if you think «That all sounds great, but unfortunately I can’t draw?», then here’s the part where I shamelessly plug my drawing course for all of you living in the area of Thun or Bern: Find out more on the course page.