Visual Thinking and Storytelling Workshop with Betabooks

 

Late last summer I started talking to a client about running a series of visual thinking/visual storytelling workshops for their communications team. As I learned more about the staff, their experience, and their roles it became clear that the main goals should be to build confidence in their visual thinking abilities and to provide strategies for generating and sharing sketch concepts for visual stories.

Oftentimes I find the biggest challenge with in-person workshops is leaving a lasting impact— inspiring individuals and teams to continue their practice and ideation after our time together. I needed to come up with a "hook", or a tool that would encourage them to continue on their own. 

I love my iPad for visual thinking, and it would be great to have 30 of them to using during every workshop, but it would be crazy expensive and is unrealistic to expect others to click with digital drawing in the same way that I did (more on that here). I also love the idea of carrying a journal, but realize that most people don't like the permanence of a paper journal and want something more flexible. Enter Betabook

 Instagram Post about the Betabook

Instagram Post about the Betabook

Hopefully you get the gist of how Betabooks work based on my Instagram Post, but basically it's a portable whiteboard that allows you to roughly sketch out ideas on the fly. After taking one for a test spin, I decided to order one for each of my students to use and then keep after the workshop. 

 Taking the concept of mind mapping using sticky notes and a Betabook for a test drive

Taking the concept of mind mapping using sticky notes and a Betabook for a test drive

So, how did it go? 

We started out with a few simple drawing exercises to build confidence (squiggle birds, visual alphabet, pictionary, etc) and then moved into some more advanced visual thinking exercises like mind mapping with sticky notes. 

 Example student mind maps in various states of completion

Example student mind maps in various states of completion

Each student focused on a specific topic that they wanted to create a visual story to help communicate, so once we mapped out the topics we began to focus on prototyping some ideas. We riffed off of some exercises from my Drawing Data class on Skillshare, and worked through Dave Gray's Head, Heart, and Hands matrix to prototype various concepts. We sprinkled in various points of feedback to practice presentation and collaboration, and then we developed a full-on visual story to share with the group. 

 An example visual story from one student who was inspired to tell a story about her thoughts on gender equity based on the results of the presidential election.

An example visual story from one student who was inspired to tell a story about her thoughts on gender equity based on the results of the presidential election.

I encouraged the students to take photos of the ideas they like and then erase the board to prototype new ideas. This was probably the most challenging part because it's easy to fall in love with an early idea and want to keep building on it as opposed to experimenting in other directions. I still think that the concept of rapid prototyping is easier on iPad because you don't have that same feeling of losing the good work you've done, but the Betabooks proved to be a much less expensive and accessible alternative. 

All in all, the sessions were highly engaging and a lot of fun. I'm so glad we were able to make them happen after a false start and scheduling delays due to unforeseen events. I captured one of the workshop sessions via a time lapse video— it makes me tired just watching! 

If you are interested in scheduling a workshop, submit a form via my contact page