March wrap: Enhance your communication skills with sketching

This month, Rebecca Jackson, sketchnoter extraordinaire helped us communicate more visually and Brainmates very kindly sponsored the evening!

Our brains are wired to understand and remember images more than words, so how can we put forward our ideas visually to take advantage of the way our brains work? The premise was that if we learn to draw what we are hearing rather than writing a long diatribe of words, not only will we remember better what we heard, we will have an easier reference tool to explain and share what we have learnt with others.

Rebecca focused on the sketchnote approach as a discipline one can practise to get better at forming ideas into visual memes and thus expanding our skills to prepare us to use this in any forum. What often limits people is their notion of “I cannot draw” and thus revert back to words and traditional formats. What sketchnoting showed us, first of all, you can use alot of words and still be sketching! This example has NO drawings at all 🙂

Then Rebecca showed us how we can practice (without too much social ridicule) to allow us to build confidence to use drawing and sketching publicly.

The second thing to consider with sketchnoting, although we didn’t get to talk about this as much due to time, was what it offered as a presentation tool itself. Instead of preparing a powerpoint with lots of bullet points and words, a sketchnote could be used to be the communication tool. The power of the sketchnote for this purpose is you are still needed to provide a verbal presentation – which is often forgotten in presentations these days – but you have a much better cue card for yourself to do the talking!

The structure of the session did give us a bit of an overview of why it can be valuable to use visual tools to remember things, and once upon time was a fundamental approach to memory retention before we could quickly look it up on the internet or rely on presentation notes. Rebecca had us try using two Ted talks – this allowed us to give it a go and appreciate how “hard” it is and then have another go and notice it already gets a bit easier the second time around.

A couple of comments from the group after their first effort – was it seemed hard and “the speaker was talking too fast” – which might be easy to interpret as bad choice of video. However, in having to draw to take notes, the brain was definitely being challenged to do something new while listening at the same time. It is important to remember that riding a bike the first time isn’t easy, and practice really is important to build a habit.

My personal observation was that even by the second attempt, it was easier to listen and sketch. And I certainly observed that I retained more information from the two talks than I would have if I had just sat there and listened or wrote my usual scrappy style. Lastly, I have an immediate visual tool to share what I learnt from those sessions than I would if I had just taken notes. The memory jogger style of the sketchnote is something I had not appreciated until I had tried it

Try it yourself with Rebecca’s presentation below and the links to the TED talks we used then take a pix & tweet it out to us!

How do *you* manage products?

Often it seems the product manager role is different depending on where you work, who you work with, what stage the company is in & the current understanding of the value of product management.

Three companies will share how they work and manage product – their structure, how they work with other teams, their challenges and how the team brings value to the business. Each company will give a short presentation on their area and then we will throw to the audience for questions.

Redbubble – will talk about the differences and likenesses between physical and web product development. Nick Cust, Product Director and Vicki Stirling, Physical Product Director will talk about each of their sides of the business to dive into the similarities and the distinction between them.

Envato – Envato boasts a community of over 5 million creatives, but dedicated Product Management is a relatively new concept for the company. While growing a team alongside rapid expansion in engineering, the Product team at Envato continually focus on better ways to meet the needs of their highly talented and passionate global community. Luke Meehan, Product Manager and Stewart Boon, Product Director will talk about how they get things done with a global, two sided community of authors and buyers.

Zendesk – Zendesk has 20 scrum teams on 4 different continents building customer service software. In his short presentation Aaron Cottrell will outline what has worked, what hasn’t and where Zendesk is continuing to improve as a globally distributed product company.

A big thank you to Redbubble for being our hosts for the evening! RSVP here.

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