Power Hour - Visual Facilitation and Sketchnoting

On the 25th of August Louise Gibbs will spend an exciting hour on The Club tapping away at her keyboard answering your questions related to Visual Facilitation and Sketchnoting

I’m Louise, and I love sketchnoting! I’m here to answer your questions. Feel free to ask me anything. I look forward to sharing my experiences with such questions as:

  • Why should I start sketchnoting?
  • What are the best tools for sketchnoting?
  • How can I start sketchnoting if I can’t draw?
  • How do I keep up with sketchnoting if I can’t even keep up with the talk?

Get your questions in before 25th August at 6pm BST, and we’ll share ideas to enhance your sketchnoting efforts. #DojoPowerHour


Do you have a preferred set/type/brand of pens you use for sketchnoting?


How long would you spend on refining a sketch note? Would you review and redo after the course/session/at home?


How do I incorporate sketch notes into my work?
Can they replace some documentation?


What is your main goal with sketchnoting? Are they more for you or for sharing with others?


They may start with being for me however as I tend to need to share my learning or direction of travel on a particular area possibly informal docs that can be placed in a knowledge base might be an option.


Do you have any beginner level techniques of tips to making your sketch notes “pop” - how do you make text look cool etc.


Can you please share what are the benefits you found from Sketchnoting? how visula & sketchnoting can help tester during various testing activities ?

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Here’s my question:
I’m a bit confused with the terms:

  • Sketching
  • Sketchnoting
  • Scribing
  • Visual Facilitation
  • Graphic Recording
  • Visual Recording

Can you clarify the difference?

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I like to use pens that I feel comfortable using, and suit the style of sketchnote that I’m going for and allows you to communicate the information best. Sometimes it can take some time to find the best tools for you.

The only specific pen that I use is a Uniball eye UB-157 in Black. The nip is thin enough to make the writing clear, but thick enough to stand out against any colours or doodles that might be included on the sketchnote. I believe that the text should stand out as this is what informs the reader.

Other tools I use include fineliners with bright colours for drawings, and light colours for shading and colouring in.

As I mentioned, I like to experiment a little as well to try out new styles. So I recently saw some brush pens reduced in the shops and bought a pack to start using these in my sketchnotes as well.

I go into more detail about tool selection for sketchnotes (including paper, pens and colours) in my 99 minute workshop on sketchnoting - the first one takes place on Monday 31st August at 12pm (UK Time)


Listening to a talk, and recording notes is hard enough without trying to make them look good as well. As a result, I rarely sketchnote live. I take rough notes during the event (which is technically a form of sketchnoting, but they don’t look as good). I then review my notes after the talk and use these to create the sketchnote. I try not to spend too long on them, typically about 15 - 20 minutes max.

I recommend doing this as soon as possible after the talk while it is fresh in your mind, which is a lot easier when watching a talk online instead of in person.

If attending an event live, I take 5 minutes to review my notes and add any ideas for the best layout and doodles, and then complete the sketch-notes when I am home after the event.

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Generally, I create sketchnotes for myself as a way to review and organize my notes so they are on a single piece of paper, making it easier to recall the talk later on (in some cases, years later).

However, I have found my sketchnotes are also useful for presenting what I know to other people. In the past, I’d show what I learnt at a conference by doing a presentation and telling people what I learnt. However, people rarely listened and there wasn’t much discussion afterwards.

Instead, I started showing the team my sketchnotes. By showing them what I learnt, instead of telling them, the team were able to take things in a lot better. This resulted in more conversations about the different topics. It was alsoa lot less effort on my part to show them the sketchnotes rather than preparing an entire presentation.

I generally use sketchnotes for recording information from events I’ve attended, however I have used visual facilitation to guide group discussion. Using a drawing , and then asking members of the group to add ideas to it, can really help encourage discussion. It also allows ideas from multiple people to be presented easier.

A recent idea I had (but not used yet) is an iceberg for creating an exploratory testing charter. The part of the iceberg above the water can be used to show what we know about a system, and the part of the iceberg used to represent what we don’t know. Ideas can be added to both sections of the iceberg and this could be used to identify what needs to be tested.


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My main goal when creating sketchnotes is to review and organize my notes so that they are on a single piece of paper. Reducing my notes in this way, plus adding colour and doodles, makes it easier to recall the talk years later.

However, the unintended benefit of sketchnoting is that it makes sharing details of a talk with other people a lot easier. People are less likely to taking in information when presented with a wall of text, or someone explaining it to them. A simple page with notes, colour and drawings on it, usually inspires more discussion.


The main tips I would give is:

  1. Don't sketchnote live. Listening to the talk and taking notes is hard enough without trying to make them look good as well. With more experience you can start attempting some live sketching.
  2. The facts are more important than the aesthetics of the sketchnotes. Write down the key points first, then look at enhancing them with colours and pictures.

During my 99 minute workshop, I will be demonstrating the process that I follow when creating a sketch note. The first one takes place on Monday 31st August at 12pm.


For main benefit for me has been being able to review, organise and present my notes so they are easier to understand at a later date. Encouraging discussion by showing the notes to colleagues who have not seen the talk has also been useful. This discussion can really help you develop as a tester and a team.

There have been additional benefits towards my mental health from sketchnoting. Reviewing notes after a conference can be tedious, having a little fun with them by adding pictures and colour, and experimenting with design makes the process a lot more interesting. It feels useful as well. I’ve had people recommend colouring in as a self care activity, however finding time for this can be a challenge. Incorporating a self care activity into something like reviewing notes makes me less guilty about doing something for myself when there is other work that needs doing.

Sketchnoting has really boosted my confidence as well. There is a lot of appreciation in the testing community for sketchnoters. These positive comments really help.

I find reviewing other sketchnotes from an event useful as it allows me to identify points that I might have missed out. Its also interesting to see what points other people decided was most important. Everyone will have a different interpretation of the talk.

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Like all definitions, they can really vary from person to person so I’m going to give what I think they mean.

  • Sketching

I see this as what artists do when they create a rough drawing of something that they intend to develop into a final piece of art. This could be a sculture, a painting or something else.
This concept could also apply to what I do with sketchnoting. I create rough notes while watching a talk before adapting them into sketchnotes. These rough notes are like a sketch of a talk. Its rough, incomplete, and not intended to be seen by anyone other than myself.

  • Notes

You didn’t ask for a definition of notes, but I will provide this because I think it will help me explain what sketchnoting is better. Notes are brief ideas written down to help jog someones memory.

  • Sketchnoting

A sketchnotes are like notes, brief and designed to jog someones memory. However, they are combined with additional pictures, colours and diagrams (visual sketches). These additions improve the aesthetics of the notes, and makes it easier to recall the original details.

  • Scribing

I’ve never really used this term before, however I think in terms of sketchnoting it could be referring to someone writing down information they have gathered from an event.

  • Visual Facilitation, Graphic Recording, Visual Recording

I would personally put all these into the same category, and be similar to sketchnoting. However, I’d see them as being more formal, neater and better designed than sketchnotes. They are less brief than notes, more time might be put into the final picture, and they are better targeted to the audience they have been created for and therefore more likely to lead towards a specific goal.

Someone running a meeting or event might use visual facilitation to demonstrate a specific idea.
A person attending that meeting or event will use sketchnotes to demonstrate their interpretation of that idea and help them recall the idea at a later date.


Thanks @lgibbs ah. That’s the secret… Do it away from the talk… I always thought people created wonderful sketch notes at the presentation, and so always wondered what the method was!

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I totally forgot about the workshop on Monday, so I watched the recording yesterday. This is my mindmap :slight_smile: - https://mm.tt/1610891631?t=YijG9c3LoM (I had a serious stroke five years ago (so being a right-handed was impacted) and as a result I don’t write by hand so much (it takes me 3 times longer for every letter, etc)).

Great workshop @lgibbs ! :clap: