Lecture-Based vs. Experience-Based Sketchnotes

There are two types of sketchnotes:


Lecture-based visual notes are taken when one party actively shares new insight or information with another party. Some examples are conferences, school classes, church sermons, panels, work meetings, and workshops.


Experience-based visual notes are taken when you experience or learn something personally on your own time. Some examples are traveling, making a recipe, trying a new restaurant, journaling, and researching.

Lecture-based visual notes should be taken LIVE in real-time.

Experience-based visual notes should be taken LATER.

Here’s why…

Lecture-based visual notes usually involve a higher amount of information like facts, quotes, statistics, examples, and stories. That information is usually more complex and unfamiliar. Because the information isn’t familiar personal, it’s harder to grasp right away. In order to take the best lecture-based visual notes, I believe it is best to take them live, in real-time, in order to capture the information as accurately as possible so nothing (or very little) is missed. This way, your notes will be more accurate than if you relied on your memory to recall the information later on. Auditory-only learning is highly ineffective, so don’t trust yourself to remember lecture-based information later on!

Experience-based visual notes that document things like a vacation, a personal journal entry, or a meal at a restaurant are different in that the information is intensely personal, and you will  have an easy time recalling experience-based things later on. Experiences should be enjoyed in the moment with as few distractions as possible.Documenting an experience shouldn’t prevent you from fully experiencing it. Don’t worry about your notes until you have some time to sit, reflect, process, and capture your highlights in your visual notes. If you need to take pictures or jot down some quick notes in the moment, go for it… but leave the full visual notes for later. Plus, you have the added benefit of not trying to wrangle a notebook and pens everywhere you go!


Lecture-based visual notes need to be taken live because:

  • The amount of information to document is higher.
  • Information is often more complex.
  • Information isn’t necessarily as personal to you.

Experience-based visual notes need to be taken later because:

  • The amount of information is lower.
  • Information is personal and easier to recall.
  • It is logistically easier.