Sketchnoting For Mediators & Conflict Professionals

Words on paper (or screen) are sometimes just too plain and boring. I have read somewhere (actually here) that pictures help with recollection more than words while pictures and words combined are even better than just pictures.

I came across a tweet on sketchnoting and thought:
1) Hey, this looks pretty interesting.
2) What exactly is this that I think is interesting?
3) I need to learn more about this and then try it out myself.

Sketching noting is a method of note-taking. Instead of just a simple method of jotting down words, sketchnoting combines drawings with words to make the notes much more lively. The advantage for mediators and conflict resolution professions can be using this method to not only help you recall information but also for those who teach and train others.

Brad Heckman of the New York Peace Institute does incredible drawings as part of his seminars workshops and trainings and not only is creative and makes the events more exciting- it helps me recall the information much better than alternatives (PowerPoint, lists, and notes).

Below is my first attempt at sketchnoting- it of me offering a way for mediators and conflict resolution professionals to more easily recall my METTA acronym which raises awareness of all the nonverbal communication elements that exist while we are engaged in our work. (Read more on METTA here)
Three really good sites to learn more about sketchnoting are here:
  1. Eva Lotta Lamm's blog which gives a great overview of sketchnoting and site where she sells a book of her sketchnotes
  2. A slide-show explaining sketchnoting [HERE]
  3. Sketchnote Army- a good collection of examples
So, mediators and conflict professionals- do you sketchnote already? Do you think it can be helpful?

Views: 138

Comment by Patricia M Porter on August 5, 2011 at 10:25am
I really like this post Jeff. There is a whole world out there referred to as visual practitioners who use visual graphics in their facilitation, training and mediations. Check out the International Forum of Visual Practitioners (IFVP)
Comment by Jeff Thompson on August 5, 2011 at 11:38am



Yes, I heard a bit about IFVP and sounds like an awesome group.  I noticed this year's event is in Hawaii!


Have you tried sketchnoting or something similar?

Comment by Bryan Hanson on August 5, 2011 at 3:59pm
Thanks for sharing Jeff. The utility of graphic representation to help facilitate the mediation process has been something I have been thinking about for some time now. I came about this concept in my graduate studies when attending a workshop on graphic facilitation by Grove Consultants ( in San Francisco. There is so much power in adding meaning and recognition through the visual representation of what you are discussing. It also can help transform the dynamics in the room towards a more collaborative nature by shifting the focus to the creation of this visual representation of the evolution of the conflict. I just wish my artistic skills were better. I appreciate the functionality, but am hampered by the inability to draw.
Comment by Jeff Thompson on August 5, 2011 at 4:03pm



You know, one of the first things I read when looking into sketchnoting was the insistence that being a pro artist or expert illustrator is not required.


Have you tried it at all even just for personal purposes?  


Even playing around with varying your text/fonts and colors with borders, quote bubbles and shading can give things an added visual element.

Comment by Bryan Hanson on August 5, 2011 at 4:26pm

Overcoming my fear of being a bad artist is definitely something I need to work on and understand that the quality is not the point with this exercise. I guess it is a personal block I should work through.

I am wondering if anyone has tried this in the mediation room. If so, what types of reactions did your clients have? Do you feel it instigated progress when things seemed stuck?

Comment by Patricia M Porter on August 6, 2011 at 1:22pm

Hi! Bryan, I took a Graphic Facilitation Bootcamp with Christina Merkley in Victoria, BC. Christina worked a number of years with Grove Consultants. I've been using not only "sketchnoting" when I take notes in training and events, but I've also used it in mediation. I tell participants that I will be doing this so they understand what I am doing. I have used a lot of graphic facilitation with teams and groups. My biggest fear was drawing because was an "elementary" school drawer....eeekk! One of the biggest things I learned from other visual practitioners is that "Content is King" not the artistry. Our responsibility as neutrals (mediators/facilitators) is to listen and synthesize information. Less about the art and more about capturing key points. I did take a couple of basic art classes and that has helped. I find that I work better by creating templates ahead of time versus drawing real time in front of groups.

Comment by Patricia M Porter on August 6, 2011 at 1:24pm
Clients I have used this with have been very open to this for the most part. It takes them away from being in the depth of the details and brings them up to look at the problems from a different perspective.


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