I love sketch-noting, and I enjoy reviewing other people’s sketchnotes as well. I find it a useful way to see how other interpretations of a topic. It’s also useful to see any other ideas that might have been missed.

The use of colour and boxes helps separate and group certain ideas together, making it easier to recall information when reviewing the notes at a later date.

I’ve received so many positive comments about my sketch-notes. Its increased my confidence and encouraged me to keep sketching.

During TestBash Home, I published sketch-notes for most of the talks. The amount of interest in these notes was overwhelming. There was a dramatic increase in the number of views on my blog when compared to other weeks.

Views on my blog per week, specifically during Test Bash Home. The number of views was more than triple the number of views I normally get a week.

The Big Secret

A lot of people have asked how I manage to create such detailed notes so soon after each event.

There is a secret that I’d like to share:

I Don’t Sketch-Note Live

I record rough notes during the talk. I take these notes, pick out the important points and decide how best to present them. Sometimes I create a rough layout plan, and practice some doodles. Then, I create the sketch-note. I try to do it as soon as possible after the talk while it’s still fresh in my mind, and probably spend about 10 – 15 minutes creating the sketch-note.

Practice Note Taking

Note-taking is a skill, that isn’t actually that hard to master. I find remembering the talk later on a lot easier if I have some rough notes to refer to.

When taking notes, learn to recognize the most important pieces of information. Focus on writing down just a few key points rather than all the details associated with it.

If your someone who finds they can focus better by listening, then wait until the end of the talk and write down a few sentences that summarize the key message of the talk.

Talks often include a mixture of facts and anecdotes. Anecdotes are useful for backing up the facts with real life examples. They also keep the listeners engaged, making it easier for them to recall the key message. A lot of these do not need to be written down.

Learn to recognize facts and anecdotes. Facts should be noted down. Anecdotes usually include a message and a story. Only the message needs to be noted.

The Ministry of Testing 99 Second is a useful way to practice writing notes. There aren’t usually any slides to read, so you’re completely reliant on your listening skills. When listening to the talk, write down the name of the speaker, followed by just 1 or 2 interesting points. Don’t try to write everything down.

Reviewing Notes

Some people have this amazing ability to write out beautifully presented sketch-notes while simultaneously listening to and understanding the complex ideas being presented. I’m not one of those people and, if you’re new to sketchnoting, you are unlikely to be either.

Focusing on the talk, and writing notes, and getting the layout of the sketch-note right, and adding meaningful and clear doodles, and adding some color, and making the notes look beautiful ….. Its not easy!

The advice I’d give to anyone new to sketchnoting is to start simple. Focus on the talk, and create some simple and rough notes instead. One day, you might be able to sketch-note live. But this takes practice. Get the most important details written down first. Worry about the presentation later.

Further Reading

99 Second Talks
TestBash 99 Second talks
More pre-recorded 99 second talks

TestBash Home Part 1
TestBash Home Part 2
More Sketchnotes from lockdown webinars

Sketch of the Week

It seems wrong to have a post about sketchnoting but not include any of my sketches. Here is one of the sketches I created this week.

It is essential to maintain a positive tester/developer relationship. When a bug is found, instead of it being passed back and forth between the developer and tester, they should work together to fix the bug.