This was the second 99 minute workshop on visual facilitation and sketchnoting. I incorporating some activities from the first workshop, but also introduced some new ones as well. I designed this workshop to be fun and interactive and also the sort of workshop that you could attend multiple times.

Last time, I found hosting a workshop where I couldn’t see others taking part rather disconcerting. This time, I invited my boyfriend to take part (Yes, I have a boyfriend now. We’ve only been dating for a few weeks). I’d been telling him all about brilliant the Ministry of Testing is, and I think he’s actually jealous that there isn’t a similar organization for his work.

It was nice seeing someone actually take part and complete the exercises. However, seeing other participants share their own creations on Twitter or The Club was also encouraging. Like before, attendees were invited to share their creations online either via twitter or the Club (the Ministry of Testing forum). It is really exciting seeing other people so engaged in the workshop and developing their own personal style of sketchnotes.

Exercise 1 – Draw A Castle

I always open up with workshop with a simple drawing exercise. This is to help people develop the confidence to draw something simple and share it, no matter how bad they think the drawing is (which it isn’t). Drawings on sketchnotes don’t have to be detailed or perfect – a simple, recognizable drawing is enough to get your point across.

Last time, I asked everyone to draw a tree. This time, I chose a castle. To help everyone out, I provided some pictures of castles. If you have an idea of something to draw, but have no idea how to draw it, then a quickly googling some images can really help you with your drawing.

Here are some of the pictures that were shared:

Exercise 2 – 99 Second Talks

The next exercise is designed to help people practice note taking skills. I often use lightning talks (short talks that are between 1 to 10 minutes long) to practice taking notes. Its a great way to improve your listening skills, and get used to identifying the key points rather than attempting to write everything down.

For this exercise, we listened to a 99 second talk. Everyone was asked to write down some notes as they listened to the talk. At this point, we weren’t creating sketchnotes. The aim was to write down some basic notes without worrying about making them look good.

The 99 second talk I chose for this exercise was given by Vernon Richards at TestBash Manchester 2020, and was about leadership styles. You can watch this talk here, starting the video at around 5:16.

Exercise 3 – Tell A Story

If you are not confident at drawing pictures, creating a sketchnote with pictures can be a challenge. I’ve often said that if you think you can’t draw, then don’t draw. There is nothing wrong with a sketchnote that only contains text. Focus more on borders and colour to make your sketchnotes look attractive.

However, I strongly believe that everyone can draw. Just because you are not Rembrandt or Frida Kahlo doesn’t mean that you can’t draw. Drawings included in sketchnotes don’t need to be detailed or elaborate. Simple and basic drawings can be just as useful for demonstrating an important piece of information.

I developed this exercise to encourage participants to have a little fun with their drawings. Develop a simple story using stick figures. For a little inspiration, it is useful to draw an obstacle that the stick person has to overcome. Here are some of the stories that people shared:

Discussion – How would you ‘draw’ Exploratory Testing?

Generating ideas of fun drawings to accompany sketchnotes can be a challenge, especially with something like software testing which doesn’t have much of a physical form. I creating an exercise where people discuss how to draw a software testing concept. For this, I chose ‘exploratory testing’?

I encouraged people to think about what exploratory testing actually is, what its like and what its not like? This can be used to develop an image or model that could ‘show’ someone what it is. I had planned to get attendees to develop a mood board of ideas, but we were running out of time so we just shared some ideas that could be developed into images before moving onto the next exercise.

Here are some of the examples participants came up with:

  • A person with a map in their hand and a forest ahead of them
  • Lewis and Clark
  • Navigating a maze
  • Spelunking into a cave
  • Treasure Hunter
  • Excavation
  • Thought bubble or mind map

I once used an iceberg to explain what exploratory testing is. We have the part of the iceberg that we know about, the part above the water, and the part we don’t know about which is much more vast. I discussed this in more detail in this blog post – Testing is like trying to save the Titanic.

My own image that I used to explain what Exploratory Testing is

Exercise 4 – Creating a Sketchnote

For the final exercise, we created our own sketchnote on a topic of our choice. I loved the variety of topics that came up. Some chose We did this in stages:

  1. Take a blank sheet of paper, and add a header (include date, name, event and any other important details).
  2. Add details to the sketchnote, in the form of small blocks of text.
  3. Draw boxes around each detail (or group of details)
  4. Add pictures and colours to make the sketchnote look awesome.


A couple of people were unable to attend the workshop, but were able to watch the recording instead. Antonella and Feng both produced beautiful sketchnotes of the entire workshop.

Posted by @FengZhu59 on twitter (link to original post)
Posted by @AntzScaravilli on the Club (link to original post)


For those who were unable to attend this workshop, I will be running this workshop again:

While each workshop will follow a similar format, I have planned different exercises for each one. So, even if you’ve already attended one of my workshops, you might still enjoy taking part a 2nd time.

99 Second Talk round at TestBash Manchester 2020

Participants were encouraged to share their creations either via The Club or on Twitter using #MOTSketchnoteWorkshop. You can view these here:

Notes from the 1st sketchnote workshop (took place 31st August 2020).

Finally, Sarah Keig developed an impressive sketchnote on Crocheting, and was even nice enough to share one of her beautiful creations: