Sharing your Visual Notes

Hopefully, you’re already convinced about the importance of sharing your sketchnotes, but maybe you’re not sure about when to share, how to share, and where to share. Here’s a quick guide:

When to share:

The content people hear in a session fades from memory with every passing minute, so it’s important to get visual notes in front of people fast! I like to share my visual notes within 30 minutes of the session’s end when possible. There’s nothing more awkward than sharing your notes after the excitement has worn off and everything is back to business as usual. The faster you can share your notes, the better.

  • If you took visual notes in class, try to post them right after.
  • If you took visual notes during church, try to post them before the end of the day.
  • If you took visual notes at a conference, try to share before the official closing.

Don’t forget to use relevant hashtags on social media so others can find your work too!

As much as I advocate sharing your visual notes, there are times when it isn’t appropriate to share your notes. If you’re capturing sketchnotes for an event that would be described as invitation-only, closed-door, internal, or proprietary, the information is not meant for public viewing or sharing. Ask a leader or planner if you can share your notes with the event’s attendees beforehand. If you were hired to create sketchnotes and signed an NDA, that’s a good indication that you shouldn’t share the notes, but always ask beforehand.

How to share:

If you create an analog sketchnote (like pen on paper or in a notebook), you’ll need to take a good quality photo or scan.

Taking a photo:

Use a well-lit spot to take your picture, and go outside when possible, because natural sunlight always looks better than indoor lighting. If you can’t get to a place with good lighting, take several pictures using the lighting you do have, with and without flash. Compare your photos to see what looks best. Many phones have editing software included to increase lighting, contrast, and highlights/shadows. Flash has the tendency to wash out notes and colors, but it can also be a lifesaver in a pinch!

Position yourself directly above or in front of your visual notes, making sure all sides of the canvas are as parallel to the edges of the frame as you can make them. Make sure your shadow isn’t being cast onto them! The more straight-on or above you are, the better.

One of my favorite apps for taking photos of sketchnotes or graphic recording boards is Microsoft Lens. This program allows you to adjust the edges and make them straight!

You can also be a bit creative and share a picture of you holding your sketchnote. This can be helpful if you want to market yourself and show your face online.

Taking a scan:

If you’re using a scanner or printer with a scanner, make sure your notes fit in the glass and within the scanning area. If your notes are too big to scan, you’ll need to take a photo instead, or scan it in pieces and stitch it together in a program like photoshop. With the development of AI, new tools will be coming out to make this easier and look better!

When you scan, make sure the settings are for high quality. Most scanners do a quick low quality by default. 300 DPI is great!

Once your image is scanned in, crop the edges to be straight and use editing software to adjust your levels (lighting, contrast, highlights, shadows, saturation, etc.) until your scan looks accurate. Save a file a voila! You’re done.

Posting:

What you say when you post your sketchnotes shouldn’t be ignored. Tell us about your experience!

Every image you share should have a caption. Talk about the event or session you sketched, tag anyone involved, (like the speaker, event, or company), and give your own insights. I like to finish by asking a question to help with post engagement, like “What’s your favorite part about these sketchnotes?” or “What’s the last event you went to?” etc.

Next, use hashtags. I recommend using the following at the minimum:

  • #sketchnotes
  • #graphicrecording
  • #visualnotes
  • event-specific hashtags

Finally, make sure your image has alt text. Alt text (alternative text) describes the appearance of an image on a webpage. Alt text displays in place of an image if it fails to load, and is indexed by search engine (SEO) bots. Alt text is also a way to make your sketchnote more accessible: Alt text is read out loud by screen reader programs used by people with visual impairments.  

Where to share:

Sharing online is pretty straightforward- you’ll need a social media account, an email account, or a website to post your image. What platform you choose is up to you!

Those are the obvious places to share, but also think about other places, like:

  • Industry forums
  • Communities and groups
  • Slack, Teams, Chat, etc.
  • Email it to organizers or speakers as part of a “thank you”
  • Physical copies on a bulletin board, break room fridge, or door

Final Tips

  • Always sign your work so people know who did it
  • Don’t be shy about sharing! Be courageous and confident. 
  • Don’t delete old work. Keep it as a record and motivation to keep improving.

This post contains excerpts from my book, The Art of Visual Notetaking. 

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