Sketchnote Tip #7: Practice Smart

Have you ever turned to online videos like TED talks or podcasts to practice sketchnoting? What you may not realize is how difficult sketchnoting those mediums can be!

  • TED talks are ultra-rehearsed and packed full of interesting and relevant information.
  • TED speakers don’t get off-topic or get distracted. They’re on a strict time limit and are often professional speakers (or at least highly trained or practiced).
  • Podcasts are often heavily edited. There are fewer pauses and the side stories and off-topic banter is often edited out.

“So… is practicing with podcasts and TED talks a bad idea?”

Not at all! If you’re a beginner, just know that you’re practicing with difficult material and it may be a struggle. In fact, it might be GOOD if you practice with these mediums, because the “real life” talks you capture (a meeting at work, an industry conference) is not likely to be the same caliber. Still, it’d be like a person who just got into running sign up for a marathon. It’s not that you can’t do it, but it’s going to be hard.

If you’re not ready for the marathon-level, try going to local, in-person events like societies, meet-ups, clubs, associations, and lunch-and-learns. It’s great to practice in low-risk environments, and you might learn something in the process. I personally take sketchnotes during Audubon Society meetings and church sermons. The sketchnote below was taken at a book launch event at a local bookstore. When you practice in low-risk environments, it builds confidence and your skills improve, and there’s no pressure to show anyone, or share your notes online.