12 oktober 2019

Dear Diary,

Today it was time again for another weekly team meeting. After last week, I hoped that this time we could go into the meeting well prepared and informed, but unfortunately this was again not the case.

I noticed again that of course, practically nobody had read the report and the minutes. In other words, Paulien and I spent the first half hour just explaining what was in the report…. But we weren’t prepared for having to present the whole report, so Paulien had trouble summarizing it briefly and people didn’t really seem to follow her. Jochem was asking unnecessary questions (which he would know the answer to if he had read the report), Philippe was getting ahead of himself at the same time and trying to push through a list of action points, Paulien was stressing because this was not in the agenda, and the rest was staring ahead during the confusing story.

And in a way I get it, I take minutes all the time, but I also can’t say it’s very appealing to have to read 12 pages of text every time. I also find it kind of hard to remember what it was about, and that’s even though I minuted the meeting!!!

Well, I am already looking forward to the next meeting….

October 28

Last Tuesday, I experienced a great meeting! I get energized just thinking about it! Paulien had asked me to attend a partner’s meeting, and also attending this meeting was a “Visual Reporter,” who also presented herself as a “Visual Thinker. I have to say, I assumed this person would do pretty much the same thing I normally do at meetings, but gee, this was life-changing! And not to say I wasn’t doing my job well, but I never thought you could combine taking minutes with drawing and it would work so well! The note-taker sketched all the minutes!

I noticed that everyone looked with fascination at the drawings he drew during the presentation, everyone was completely focused and totally into the material. Afterward, we were sent the visual minutes and everyone was so impressed! It was so easy to read through it and immediately see what it was about. I had heard of “Visual Thinking” before but I had never thought that it could be so interesting for my work as well.

November 12

I’ve decided that I also need to dive into Visual Thinking. I came across a list of interesting and playful books and familiarized myself with some icons and visual techniques for giving text more structure through drawing.

I decided to just do it: before the last meeting I took the time to make a visual translation of the minutes at home. I was a little anxious to see what they would say during the meeting, but the response was bizarrely good! Almost everyone had been able to read through the minutes beforehand because apparently the amount of information now felt much more accessible and readable.

What struck me immediately was that little to no time was needed for Paulien to give a recap of the previous meeting, because it was clear to everyone! Only Philippe had not yet been able to read through it due to lack of time, but with the help of the visualizations, Paulien was able to quickly summarize the main conclusions. What a relief, and what a difference! It was wonderful to see how a few additions of visuals could already boost the effectiveness and energy of the meeting! For a change, Jochem was not complaining about unclarities during the meeting and was actively thinking along with the group.

During the meeting, I was already trying to capture some main points through sketching for the minutes. In the end, people were also interested and asked if they could also get the next reports visually. Pfoe! I think it’s just an exciting idea. But, I don’t know if we could get the other teams to go along with it.

January 11

Hey diary, remember that some time ago I told you about my first tentative attempt of ‘Visual Thinking’? Well, you won’t believe it, I was mostly making my own visual minutes, sometimes even beforehand during meetings. Apparently, Philippe had been talking about it so enthusiastically during another (apparently rather stiff) meeting that they suddenly asked me to join them, to make visual minutes. And they also asked if the reports we exchange between teams could also be done visually and if it was possible to visually format the presentation that should come out of it, to share to the client!

I was so overwhelmed, but oh so ready for this! I immediately delved further into the books, took some training, and started to feel more and more confident in myself and my drawing skills.

I have begun to help others within the company with their visual minutes, and teaching them how to do it themselves. A transition is slowly emerging within the company, we used to sit in a gray dusty office room which is now slowly turning into an inspiring room full of posters, notes, and cards on the walls with our own drawings. Working is suddenly so much more inspiring, so much more fun, and suddenly so much easier. And that’s what Visual Thinking is all about!


A visual reporter

Are you also a Visual Reporter?

Do you recognize yourself in this journal?

Would you like to take visual minutes of a conversation or meeting?

Would you like to use visuals to communicate in a different way and capture the core of the story?

We can help you achieve this, with the special Visual Reporter training path.

By Hugo Seriese