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Thoughts from a Keynote Artist & Visual Strategist

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  • Writer's pictureJulia Bakay

Misconceptions about Visual Note-taking

Why you should adopt Visual Note-taking as your next hobby

...alongside knitting and fermenting

Ever wondered how you could speed up time during a dull meeting? Why, when learning a language, the words just don’t stick? Or what to do with your urge to multitask while listening to a podcast?

Well I’ve certainly wondered about all the above.

Until I discovered Visual Note-taking...

It’s funny looking back at old notebooks, as I see the idea and the desire has always been there. I always filled the margin area with my doodles, but I never dared to take it further!


Because (and this is going to sound silly), I didn’t know I was allowed. After all, what if my teacher or boss picks it up and looks at what I’ve done with their words! Will they think that I’m making fun of them ...or that I’m doodling because I'm bored?

Visual Notetaking Misconceptions, questions and answers

Well, as a professional Visual Note-taker, I feel it's both my duty and calling to debunk these misconceptions. Taking notes is a commonly accepted tool for learning, yet when you take it to a more creative (thus helpful) level, you might suddenly be accused of ‘doodling’.


With 65% of the general population being visual learners, I’m often amazed why Visual Note-taking is not the default. This process allows us to interpret the information in our own way, capture our wild associations, connect the parts that make sense to us, and map it all out in a way that helps us!

How can one learn Visual Note-taking?

You’d be surprised how little there is to teach here - to start with, we just need to open up these channels and see what happens. After all, Visual Note-taking, at its core, is something entirely personal. When we take visual notes, we follow our brain's flow and associations, and no one can do this for us better than us.

Your visual notes are only meant to help you make sense of the information, so don’t feel like you owe anyone any explanations. If your visuals happen to look good and you feel like sharing them - what a bonus!


When you take visual notes, you should feel free

Having Visual Note-taking as my profession, I’m not always able to capture my true associations in the moment. When you do it for a larger audience, you can’t just draw a scene from your favourite film, or reference a family inside joke - you have to tailor your ideas in the moment so that your witty visual metaphors are understandable to everyone!

In personal Visual Note-taking, you can relax - no one will point at your images and tell you it doesn’t make sense, doesn’t look good, or (most awkward of all) is inappropriate or offensive. When practicing Visual Note-taking, you’re not asked to change the connections in your brain, it’s your time to notice them.

'What if I can’t draw?'

Don’t worry!

If you can draw these three shapes...

The 3 basic shapes of Visual Note-taking

you can draw everything you’ll need!

Sure, it might look slightly cubist in the beginning, but that’s OK! Once you feel comfortable with your basic shapes, you’ll begin to link the pieces and end up with some magic.

I’m not going to lie, it can be a strenuous mental exercise, a mindfulness challenge, or a practice of presence. You need to sooth the inner critic and make friends with them, so that you can learn to enjoy this as an activity, in your own, accepting company

Good Luck!


Ps. Feel free to leave a note if this is something you’d be interested in! I'll probably launch a workshop one day...


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