Use sketchnotes and graphic recording to spread your speech’s message

A social speech has the power to extend your message’s reach beyond the audience in attendance. And one of the most powerful ways you can do that is by encapsulating that message in a self-contained, easily-shared piece of content: a social object.

Think of it as a spur to conversation: something that people will share and talk about online. (Jyri Engeström first coined the term, but cartoonist Hugh Macleod has done a lot to put it into practical terms.) For your speech, that social object could take many forms: A great clip of the key moment from your speech. An infographic illustrating and supporting your argument. A striking and relevant image, captioned with a text quotation from your speech.

Or it could take the form of graphic recording: an increasingly popular way of capturing the essence of speeches and conversations as illustrations, usually drawn live and in the moment.

Innovative workshop facilitators have been using graphic recording now for years. (Here’s Nancy White doing her marvellous graphic take on my Northern Voice talk from 2009.) And now it’s hitting the mainstream with everything from RSA’s now-famous whiteboard animations to sketchnotes at events like SXSW and (cough) the Nonprofit Technology Conference.

The folks at Duarte Design created a series of illustrations from last month’s TED 2013 talks – garnering more than 100,000 views on Slideshare. Here’s how one of them, capturing seven different talks, came together:

You don’t have to be nearly as ambitious in scope and scale, of course. But even a few simple sketches along with explanatory text can help your message spread – and inspire conversations that can lead to connection, action and impact.

And those sketches don’t require any special artistic training or cartooning skill. Books like The Sketchnote Handbook and The Back of the Napkin set out simple techniques you (or someone in your organization) can use to illustrate a message with clarity and power, even if you haven’t dared to doodle since grade school. And the Sketchnote Army website offers inspiration on demand, with tons of examples to learn from.

Add some identifying information — the speaker’s name, the event and date, an URL and a Twitter ID — and you’re ready to release your sketchnote into the wild as a social object. There are countless ways to do it:

  • post the image to your blog
  • post the image to Flickr
  • tweet it out after the speech
  • add it to the slide deck you post on Slideshare
  • turn it into a Prezi
  • animate it a little and post it to YouTube

Whichever way you share it (and any other social object you create), follow and join the conversations it triggers, and engage with the networks it helps you build.

P.S. – I’m convinced the current popularity of hand-drawn live notes owes no small debt to the impact of Common Craft‘s fantastic explanatory videos. So it’s no accident that I’ll also heartily recommend Lee LeFever’s The Art of Explanation, which is great on images and can help you add sound and video to the mix.

Five ways sharing links can build relationships instead of breaking faith

Suppose you read a tweet or a Facebook update: an urgent message about something truly vile that a public figure has said. Outraged, you click through… and discover that, actually, what they said is far milder.

Or you click the “About us” link on an organization’s web site… and you’re taken to a rambling, vague philosophical essay. Or you search online on three keywords, click a promising result, and discover the page has nothing, nothing to do with your search terms. Or you tap a link to “Read more” on a mobile web page, and a 30-megabyte PDF begins to download slow-w-w-ly onto your smartphone, sucking the life out of your data plan.

Been there? Me, too — all in the past week — and it left me fuming.

What happened in every case wasn’t just a little wasted time, or a frustrated search, or a dent in my data plan. What happened was a little tiny betrayal.

Because a link isn’t just an URL or a little HTML code. A link is a promise.

On a web page, it’s a promise that if you click or tap here, you’ll go to the page, document or resource that the text inside the anchor tag describes. In a Twitter feed or on a Facebook page, it’s a promise that this link will be worth your while – that it was worth sharing because it’s worth reading.

Breaking that promise means breaking faith with readers and visitors. And the ways people do just that are depressingly numerous:

  • Letdowns: Site navigation that leads to “Coming soon!” pages.
  • Surprise downloads: Links that lead without warning to Word documents, PowerPoint files and anything else that doesn’t load seamlessly in a user’s browser.
  • Hype: Claims that the content at the other end of the link is far more controversial, significant, useful, factual or hi-LAR-ious than it really is.
  • Lockouts: Links to walled gardens that many users won’t be able to enter: paywall-protected news stories, for instance, or any service that requires you to create an account to see the content.
  • Lies: Outright deception about what’s at the other end. (No matter what the motivation is – whether it’s rickrolling, black-hat SEO tactics or something else – you’re making a withdrawal from your trustworthiness account.)

The result? Some pretty upset people:

[View the story “I hate it when I click a link and it leads to…” on Storify]

The flip side? When someone clicks a link of yours and gets exactly what you promised, it builds trust – the same way that keeping any other promise does. Trust helps to build relationships, and relationships… well, they’re what social networks are built on.

Here are five ways you can be sure you’re keeping those promises:

  • Open doors: Avoid linking to content behind paywalls or registration barriers. And before you pass on a link to something someone’s posted on Facebook or Google+, check the sharing settings on it to be sure it’s public.
  • Fair warning: Let people know when you’ve linked to something other than a web page or an image. Label your link with the file format and, if it’s a hefty one, add the file size: Interview with Nancy Duarte (MP3, 5.5 MB)
  • Working links: The web is a living thing, which means bits of it die sometimes – bits you may have linked to. From time to time, give your site a check for broken links. (Looking through your analytics for common 404 errors is a start.)
  • Unvarnished truth: Sharing your honest excitement along with the link? Great. Puffing up mediocre content as life-shatteringly awesome? Less so.
  • Due diligence: Twitter and Facebook make it awfully easy to repost someone’s link if they’ve made it sound appealing. But have a look first – so you know what you’re sharing when you pass a link along.

Sharing links can do a lot of good for you and your audiences. Just remember that when you share content, it reflects on your reputation – for better or worse.

Alex’s ebook unlocks the professional power of Evernote

It wasn’t that long ago that “notebook” just meant the paper kind that you’d carry to meetings, refer to as you worked, and jot random thoughts down in… provided you had it with you.

Then came the web, and then smart mobile devices, and everything changed. Today’s web-based notebook lives on your laptop, desktop, tablet, smartphone and web browser. And the most successful by far is Evernote.

Synchronizing your notes across your various devices and the web is just the tip of Evernote’s iceberg (or, if you prefer, the flyleaf of the notebook). Evernote does everything from handwriting recognition to photo synchronizing to web clipping… and much more.

Work Smarter with Evernote by Alexandra Samuel

Figuring out how to harness all that power, though, can be a little daunting. (Your last paper notebook probably didn’t require help documentation.) To put Evernote’s features to work for you, it really helps to have the guidance of someone who not only knows the software itself, but how to make the most of it.

Enter Alex’s new ebook Work Smarter with Evernote, the first in the Work Smarter with Social Media series from Harvard Business Review Press. It’s available on Amazon, iTunes and (As of right now, it’s topping the time management category for Kindle volumes, and hit the number two spot for Amazon’s time management books.)

Work Smarter with Evernote isn’t a software manual. It’s a guide to using Evernote to make your professional life more effective, productive and satisfying. Alex shows you how to use Evernote to capture notes no matter where you are, and to organize your work and your priorities. And show you how to realize the full potential of Evernote’s social features — the ones that make it a powerful tool for collaboration.

Maybe best of all, you won’t have that long apprenticeship period where you have to patiently learn a tool’s intricacies before it starts being useful. Alex’s 30-minute setup guide can get a beginner up and running — or, if you’ve used it before but never really got it, let you give it a real try.

Alex draws on a wealth of experience and knowledge, both around the app itself — she was one of Evernote’s earliest adopters and evangelists, and is now Evernote’s research ambassador — and around effective online work and collaboration. (You can sample some of that expertise in a few of her recent posts for the Harvard Business Review, Vision Critical and Evernote.)

We hope you’ll check out Working Smarter with Evernote. And let us know what you think!