Talking the ‘BIG Book’ with Jeroen Blijsie

Spotlight on Jeroen Blijsie + the BIG Book

with Jeroen Blijsie

Meet Jeroen and hear about his role as ideas man behind the book, The World of Visual Facilitation.

Jeroen is a visual facilitator, trainer, author, and founder of the company The Visual Connection, located in The Netherlands. After he graduated with a degree in technical business administration, he specialized in facilitating workshops and conferences, as well as training professionals in facilitative leadership. Together with his team, Jeroen facilitates organizations in strategic visioning and planning, business improvement, and team building. Since he stepped into the world of visual facilitation, visual tools have become an indispensable aspect of his work.

To check out Jeroen’s website – click here.

To get your copy of the book – click HERE for the hard copy with worldwide delivery or HERE for the ebook via Amazon Australia.

The World of Visual Facilitation

I hope you enjoyed this Spotlight Session.

If you new to visual work, make sure you have a copy of my 12 Great Icons book to BOOST YOUR VISUAL THINKING… (Click on the image below)…

Here are some other articles that may interest you…

Spotlight interview with the lettering guru, Heather Leavitt Martinez

What’s in a Graphic Recorder’s Tool Bag?

How to draw – a simple map of Australia + globe

Announcing the Visual Facilitation Field Guide

I’m pleased to announce that I have a chapter in a forthcoming book on visual practice!

The book is The Visual Facilitation Field Guide, and my chapter is called The Growing Edge for Visual Practitioners.

Watch my quick video below to hear all about it!

Why this new book?

The Field Guide is intended for visual practitioners to use as a sourcebook of ideas and inspiration, but it’s also intended for non-practitioners to get a sense of the depth and breadth of the field and understand why and how to partner with a visual practitioner. Over 50 co-authors, all visual practitioners or facilitators who partner with them, are contributing chapters about their own experiences and methods.

Over 50 co-authors from around the globe are contributing to this Field Guide.

The Field Guide is co-edited by Jeroen Blijsie of The Visual Connection (the Netherlands), Tim Hamons of Art of Awakening (Singapore), and Rachel Smith (the US). The book’s design is provided by Visuality (Belgium).

Book content

It includes sections on visual language and drawing, visual facilitation basics, roles, listening, dialogue, templates, meetings–including large-scale meetings–both face-to-face and virtual, team performance, storytelling, working off the paper and beyond the meeting, and intersections with other fields. There’s also a section of stories using visuals in action and a section about the future of the field.

My chapter is about the future of the field and how we as practitioners can build and grow our visual thinking practices in several key ways. It addresses the stumbling blocks many new and new-to-the-field graphic facilitators have in talking about the work we do and the value that we bring. This content comes from my experience of coaching visual practitioners around the globe in how to build a flourishing visual business.

Help us by pre-ordering your own copy – at a *discount*

The book is being self-published and will be available mid-year (2018). To cover the costs, we’re launching a Kickstarter campaign!

The campaign opens on April 24, 12.00 PM CET, when you’ll be able to pre-order the book at a deep early bird discount. Or you can pledge a higher amount for other rewards, like a one-on-one coaching session with David Sibbet (The Grove) or Brandy Agerbeck!

I’ll be posting updates on the Curious Minds Co. facebook page, and twitter feed as the campaign gets closer. Stay tuned!

Spotlight on the gifted + bubbly Heather Leavitt Martinez

Spotlight on the gifted + bubbly Heather Leavitt Martinez

with Heather Leavitt Martinez

Hear about Heather’s background as a printmaker and fine artist, how that lead to a desire to develop a ‘visual vocabulary’ that served others in their work and the power that comes from co-creating visuals with the group she works with.

Heather has great insights into how to stand out and brand yourself as a visual practitioner, how a key question at a meetup group spurred her pursuit of mastery in lettering and the key things to focus on to deliver great results for your clients.

To check out Heather’s website – click here.






I hope you enjoyed this Spotlight Session.

If you enjoyed hearing about this visual work, make sure you have a copy of my 12 Great Icons book to BOOST YOUR VISUAL THINKING… (Click on the image below)…






Here are some other articles that may interest you…

Spotlight interview with the talented Sam Bradd

What’s in a Graphic Recorder’s Tool Bag?

How to draw – a simple map of Australia + globe














Spotlight on the talented Sam Bradd

Spotlight on the talented Sam Bradd

spotlight_icon_SamBradd copy

with Sam Bradd

Hear about Sam’s background in education and working in not-for-profit organisations, how drawing was originally a ‘side project’ until he found himself working ‘unexpectedly’ as a graphic facilitator (recorder). Sam has great insights into how to stay centered and present in our role when we are supporting groups doing difficult work.

To check out Sam’s website – click here and to have a look at Sam’s graphic work like the ones below – click here.


In Sam’s interview, he mentioned several people who have inspired him with their work and resources that he has found useful. Here’s the people and links to their websites and also a link to the IFVP 2016 Conference in Washington DC, USA.

 brandy GraphicDesign_guildbook MichelleWinkle

Brandy Agerbeck

The Graphic Facilitator’s Guide

Graphic Design
Guild Handbook

Michelle Winkel,
Maxine Borowsky Junge

Graphic Facilitation &
Art Therapy

visual sensemaking Leading-as-sacred-practice_ed IVFP

Visual Sensemaking

collaborative project

Leading as
Sacred Practice

Gisela Wendling, David Sibbet,

Alan Briskin and Holger Scholz

Learn. Grow. Connect. Inspire.

IFVP Conference 2016, Washington DC.


I hope you enjoyed this Spotlight Session.

If you enjoyed hearing about Sam’s graphic recording work, here are some other articles that may interest you…

Spotlight interview with the wonderful Lynne Cazaly

What’s in a Graphic Recorder’s Tool Bag?

When nostalgia looks soooo goood

How to draw – a simple map of Australia + globe


What’s in a Graphic Recorder’s tool bag?

What’s in a Graphic Recorder’s tool bag?

Here' what's in my tool bag...
Here’ what’s in my tool bag…

I love my work! But you already knew that!

Being asked to listen attentively and draw is a WONDERFUL thing.

But in talking to people interested in visual ways of working, it seems some know of Graphic Recorders or may have seen their work, but many are not clear what’s involved. So here’s the first in a series of articles about working as a Graphic Recorder, for those who want to know more.

I’m on a roll with bags and packing this month, so this article covers what I PACK for my GRAPHIC RECORDING gigs…

1. My favourite markers – Big Ones and two Outliners No. 1 by the wonderful folk at Neuland

2. Pencil, pen and rubber – for taking quick notes, sketching out ideas

3. White labels – the GR’s white-out option and post-it notes for holding place ideas as I am recording… (e.g. draw jumbo jet here)

4. Masking tape / artist’s tape for hanging paper – available at hardware / artist supplies respectively

5. Stencils and rulers – just in case I feel the need for uber precision!

6. Cutters – a blade and craft knife for paper, scissors for everything else (I get asked a lot for scissors) – available at hardware / craft stores

(My lunchbox carrier was a gift from the wonderful Brandy Agerbeck for joining her 2013 Lab in Chicago – pretty cool!)

I also take all the documents relevant to the event – e.g. program, speakers’ notes and pictures (if I have them), a big roll of bond paper and my iPad. Never know when you need to do a quick search to get an image as a prompter.

Last week, the image search was ‘Socrates’ because one of the speakers quoted him in his talk and I wanted to get a good likeness. It was singled out by on-lookers, so I had to confess to having a reference. They were still impressed.

I LOVE my work!

Next – What questions do I ask my clients? and What happens on the day I am recording? up next!


Visual note-taking with Inkflow

If, like me, you are interested in the bit of the world where visual thinking meets digital technology, then read on!

I’m an avid fan of Rachel Smith’s Digital Visual Facilitation blog, where Rachel shares her knowledge and experience about the world of all things digital + visual so generously. Last week, I enjoyed Rachel’s article on Inkflow where she reviewed a new drawing app for iPad and iPhone by Qrayon (the guys that brought us air sketch).

I was excited by her positive review and its applications for visual note-taking and graphic recording. Features that excite fine artists are not always useful to me when I’m taking notes. But Rachel is a leader in the visual practitioner world, so I knew her assessments would be spot on for my use. If you use your digital device to take visual notes, then read on…

After reading Rachel’s article, I hopped on and downloaded it. I had a play with it and here’s what I found…

Here's what I learnt from an hour of playing with Inkflow drawing app

I agree with Rachel’s review – the  ability to ‘lasso’ parts of my notes and move and resize them is fantastic (Rachel files it under A for awesome). It took me a bit of playing with the selection tool though to get the movement smooth and accurate each time. The fact it is a vector-based drawing tool means you don’t lose quality when you scale up and down.

Also the ability to add text and import images are really important to how I take visual notes. Plus, I would also love to be able to add layers – this is crucial to my ability to arrange and add colour to my notes.

But, being a greedy girl, I would like to add one or two more features.

Before I give my Christmas list aimed at drawing app designers, I need to confess. I get it. We are all different in the way we take visual notes on the iPad, and the style and features we have each learnt to rely on using other drawing apps (my favourite is the original Brushes – no longer available) are therefore different. What I want may not be what others will want. So these additions may just be a result of HOW I do visual notes.

Having said that, I would add:

  • the ability to have a specific size selector for my eraser – the current function is a little crude. I like to do text in big, bold strokes and then put a definition line through the letters with the eraser. See my example below… I wasn’t able to do this style of hand-drawn lettering in Inkflow.
  • the ability to select with the ‘lasso’ tool and then COPY – for example, to get the two erasers under ‘an eraser size selector’ point on my chart above, I had to do a screen capture on my iPad, edit the image in pics, then import it twice and save the image as two different sizes once I was happy with its position. It would be SO much easier if you could hit COPY on the selection once it’s made and move the copy to the desired location without having to jump in and out of the app.
  • finally, I would love to be able to have a one tap zoom in and zoom out function. It’s faster to move around which is so important when taking visual notes (and saves me having to keep undo-ing the plethora of small coloured dots I create when I forget that’s not a function of this drawing app! Yeah, I know, I just need to get used to it!).
I used the eraser to get the white line in the black headings
I used the eraser to get the white line in the black headings

Overall, I am very excited about this new visual note-taking option for my iPad. It has a number of features which are superb.

NB: The features I am describing come with the paid version which was A$9.99 two days ago.

I look forward to taking it out on the town the next time I’m jotting my visual notes.

If you are interested in reading more about this app from Qrayon, check out their website here.

Thanks, Rachel Smith (@ninmah) for your review!

If this really interests you – you have an iPad and want to learn how to use it as a powerful tool for your thinking and learning – have a look at the Visual Power Notes on your iPad seminar on 14 June 2014 (Australian EST 10am-1pm).


4 Killer Titles for your Visual Resources Library

4 Killer Titles for your Visual Resources Library

I’m always on the hunt for great resources – for my visual practice and to share with those who join my visual thinking programs.

The past six months, I’ve been amazed at the surge of super titles that really are worth exploring. I’m going to give you the low-down on four books I think you should have in your library.

Here they are – in no particular order:

  1. The Doodle Revolution by Sunni Brown
  2. Visual Mojo by Lynne Cazaly
  3. The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde
  4. Discovery Doodles by Alicia Diane Durand.

They all have something to offer anyone interested in visual thinking, graphic facilitation and visual note-taking. Here’s my take on the short story…

My notes of the 4 Killer Titles – done on my iPad

Still interested in more? Ok, here’s the longer story (I’ve linked the titles to where you can access these great books)…

#1 The Doodle Revolution by Sunni BrownReference_Doodle Rev

Co-author of ‘Gamestorming’, Sunni Brown has released a new book this year ‘The Doodle Revolution: unlock the power to think differently’.

I love that! The promise of thinking differently. I believe we need to harness this power if we are going to make a difference in our communities, our businesses and on this planet.

In her book, Sunni challenges our current disregard for The Doodle, calling up the ghosts of intellectual giants – Albert Einstein and Marie Curie and figures of history – JFK and Henry Ford. They all shared a use of drawing as part of their thinking processes (aka ‘Class A Doodlers’).

The Miseducation of the Doodle - page xii from the book
The Miseducation of the Doodle – page xii from the book

She encourages us to look at our false beliefs about doodling, discover our “doodler DNA” and begin to develop our visual literacy. Sunni sets out a clear path for anyone interested in gaining visual literacy. With a playful style and game-based ideas – born from her work with Dave Gray, James Macunufo and their book ‘Gamestorming’ – Sunni sets out doodle games designed to help us learn the skills and concepts to be a proficient doodler.

Passion and humour are key hallmarks of Sunni’s writing style and you’ll find plenty in the book.

You’ll also find it packed with well-researched information and oodles of ideas for activities where you can engage your drawing and abilities to think differently. Try these – Stickify ThisThe Face Matrix and Doodle Bomb – a personal favourite where we are encouraged to draw on magazine ads… e.g. drawing power tools in the hands of supermodels and re-editing the copy for our own entertainment.

In short, encouraging us to take doodles seriously and at the same time, play around with our doodling abilities.

Fast facts: price $26.96; no. of pages – 241; published 2014; hardcover (my copy)

The book presents researched information to support the power of the visual at work and school as well as a depth of ideas on ways you can develop your visual literacy and tap the power of thinking differently. The visuals used throughout the book are also good case studies in communicating ideas using visuals. My overall comment – good resource for information, example visuals and activity ideas.

#2 Visual Mojo by Lynne CazalyReference_Visual_Mojo

Businesswoman and author, Lynne Cazaly has distilled her knowledge of how to help people get over their ‘I can’t draw’ syndrome into a workbook. It has oodles of icon ideas and space to put those into practice.

For Lynne, getting our visual mojo working will assist us in capturing ideas, conveying information and collaborating with others.

But, I love this: Lynne advises –

Don’t go cold turkey on words

…and reminds us that words are still an important part of the message.

The book steps through the basics of getting started – practising lines and shapes that make up our visual language. The focus of the remainder of the book is on the 60 quick pics. Practising these will build your visual literacy.

Fast facts: price $24.65, no. of pages – 168; published 2013; softcover

Great workbook… Simple to follow, no fancy, schmancy language. My overall comment – good resource for those starting out to be able to pull off the shelf.

#3 The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike RohdeReference_The_Sketchnote_Handbook

We’ll skip merrily over the saga about how I finally got my copy of this book (three orders with Amazon and three long periods of waiting, checking my PO box and finally accepting them as no-shows later) and focus on the absolute delight when it finally arrived late last year and I got to immerse myself deeply in its contents and wisdom.

I will tell you what I love about this particular title.

And there’s lots to love.

It’s packed with fantastic examples, the entire book is a study in how to take and present visual notes in an engaging way.

Importantly, there is no jump-cut between the “text” ideas and Mike’s examples. They are all one.

As a result, I found every page opening really appealing. I just wanted to explore and soak up the information and then sit back and reflect on how he did it. Notice what techniques Mike employed on each page. What type font he used… Little natty things like the way he tucks his ‘the‘ into the capital of the first letter and the big things like the detail he shares about the sketch noting process and types and hierarchies of sketchnotes.

One of my favourite quotes from Mike’s book is:

It’s about IDEAS, not ART!”

That’s a critical point and one I share as part of the courses I teach in visual thinking, especially for those starting out, but also a great reminder for those who have been practising for a while.

Showcasing Eva-Lotta Lamm's work in Mike's book, page 82
Showcasing Eva-Lotta Lamm’s work in Mike’s book, page 82

As well as tonnes of information, Mike shares work from other sketchnoters, so as the reader, you get the chance to see some different styles and approaches. I love that some of the examples are ‘as is’, not prettied up for the book.

Fast facts: price $34.99; no. of pages – 205; published 2013; softcover (but with funky rounded corners… oooh, yeah! and a gorgeous smooth matte finish cover that you just want to hold)

If you are into sketchnoting, this is THE book for you… It covers the process of note-taking, different types and style options, approaches, skills and techniques. My overall comment – yes, one to have on the shelf. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned professional, you will pull it out and seek inspiration from it. (NB: there is a video edition. You could get the book and take in some of Mike’s videos on the web instead.)

#4 Discovery Doodles: The Complete Series by Alicia Diane DurandReference_Discovery_Doodles

If you “draw like a five year old”, it may be because that’s when you stopped drawing!

Like the other three titles, Diane’s book takes us on a gentle learning curve of how to start with basic shapes and combine to create more complex and useful images.

What I adore about Diane’s book is the strength of her drawing style. It is inspiring.

I love the use of colour and the simply delightful images she creates.

Diane takes us through drawings’ application from early childhood through to the adult world of work. The book covers so many everyday topics and themes, it is a great resource.

Excerpt from the book – Ideas for Titles, p209
Fast facts: price $38.69 for hard copy; no. of pages – 227; published 2013; ebook (my version, though available in softcover)

(NB: Sketchbook Basics is very generously available for FREE from Discovery Doodles’s website)


Great ideas for drawing everything from your grocery list to icons for business and technology. My overall comment – A great resource for inspiration. Bring your process knowledge to the table and you have a super combination.


If you found this useful, you might like to read:

Gear Freak – chart markers and great titles for your library







A Snazzy Worksheet for Your Goal Setting (no, it’s not too late)

A Snazzy Worksheet for Your Goal Setting (no, it’s not too late)

A worksheet to help you get clear about your goals and steps to get there.
A worksheet to help you get clear about your goals and steps to get there.

It’s not too late to set your goals!

I love to start a new year doing a reflection session on the year that’s passed and then deciding the focus of my coming year.

But if life was too hectic and you didn’t get to it this year, do not despair!

My worksheet is here to help!  Download, print out and share this with your friends and family.

Kick off May 2014 with a shazzam.

Measure your success: The New York Report

Measure your success: The New York Report

IFVP_big_appleNew York in July and the International Forum of Visual Practitioners (IFVP) Conference was a fantastic experience.

I ran a workshop called ‘did we hit our target?‘. The topic was aimed at those who design and facilitate workshops and group events – many members of the IFVP have this role.

I believe this is an important topic. The need to measure our impact as facilitators and recorders grows increasingly critical in an environment where project dollars remain tight. We must be able to quantify and qualify our worth. And some of the best data we have can come from our own experiences and those reported by our clients.

So, in my post back in July – Measure Your Success: so learning can begin #2 – I promised to follow up after the event with more ‘Measure Your Success’ gems. And I’d like to share what came from the group’s discussions.

We explored two areas of interest – 1) how we measure the success of our efforts + 2)  how we visualise that evaluation information for harvesting and communicating. The pivotal question for our session was:

How do we know if our meeting or workshop
has been a success?

I had the opportunity to discuss what evaluation methods, if any, were used by other professionals in the visualisation business.

At the start I did a quick poll on what kind of evaluations visual practitioners do after an event. Scenario A: Exit stage left with materials under your arm, waving to the client. Scenario B: Informal Harvest: how do you think that went? C: Formal, structured harvest: against pre-agreed outcomes.


The general consensus in the conference group was about 10%:80%:10%. In summary, an informal question of ‘How did you think that went?’ with the client was most common.

The group agreed that thinking more about the options in Scenario C: Formal Structured Harvest would be useful for their practice.

I presented my take on the logic model which I’ve dubbed ‘logic model lite’. At its simplest form, it covers the INPUTS (ie. what resources we invest in the meeting), our ACTIVITIES (ie. what we do in the meeting) and the OUTCOMES – short, medium and long-term (ie what results we see).

The elements of the Logic Model ‘Lite’: Inputs, Activities and Outcomes

Using the workshop we were in, we ran an example of what a logic model ‘lite’ would look like. That way, participants got a feel for what information was needed and what level it was aimed at. We built it systematically from identifying the inputs, the activities involved, and then the short-, medium- and long-term outcomes. Finally we identified the matters we could evaluate the results of the workshop.


We discussed how common practice was to check if the activities and short-term outcomes were achieved. However, back to our ‘workshop as an intervention’ paradigm, further investigations could be done into the results and longer term outcomes that flow.

I shared some of the visual methods I employ for checking end-of-workshop outcomes with my participants.

target board single
Target board feedback chart

These include my tried-n-true target board. I like the idea of linking people’s responses to the concept of ‘hitting the mark’.

Brian Tarallo of Lizard Brain Solutions offered his use of faces and emotions to do a visual Likert scale for feedback.

At the finale of the workshop, we checked the short-term outcomes for a measure of success. Participants reported having more structure and concepts to approach evaluation of their own workshops for the future.

Tracey Ezards chartDuring this great discussion, Tracey Ezard of Jessup Ezard Consulting recorded our thoughts. Thank you, Tracey for capturing our points and to all the participants – Lynn K., Nora H., Brian T., MJ and Lisa.


cmc michelle icon1Do you want to:
Expand your professional toolkit with visual thinking skills?
Boost your effectiveness in meetings?
Add impact to your presentations?
Gain confidence in drawing and applying graphics to your work?
Be seen as a creative thinker?

If you are yes to any of these, find out more about my premium program: Essentials of Visual Thinking & Graphics Practice here.

Contact me on:
See more at:   



Gear freak – chart markers & great titles for your library

Gear freak – chart markers & great titles for your library

Neulands No. 1 Markers – beautiful range of 25 colours & they are refillable!

I’m often asked at my training days about my tools and my reference library. They are important parts of the whole graphics practice. I say that, having had some not-so-good experiences with markers that die on the first chart in the first session of an all-day event. So, if you are starting out or just curious about what others do in their practice, here’s my ideas…

Chart markers: A graphic facilitator’s and graphic recorder’s main tool for ‘working at the wall’. I love Neulands No. 1 Markers for all round chart work. I also have a range of their Big Ones which are large and fabulous for headings and big comment boards. They are refillable and have replaceable nibs, so I recommend these also. Their extended life means greater reliability and less hassle for you. But for the absolute mainstay of your kit – THE BLACK MARKER, I love Charters markers (available from The Grove International). Their black is rich and in my mind, the best on the market.

Great titles: There are so many categories that interest me, and I don’t want to overdo the list… So I’ve reduced it to six titles in two categories. They are… (this is just like the Golden Globes!)…

Visual language books – filled with pictures, images and concept icons – my favourite three are:

Visual Thinking by Nancy Margulies & Christine Valenza
  1. Visual Thinking: Tools for Mapping your Ideas by Nancy Margulies & ChristineValenza
  2. Bikablo: Facilitators dictionary of visual language available through Neulands (and Bikablo 2.0: New Visuals for Meeting, Training & Learning). I know that’s technically two, but heck!
  3. Pocket pics: Difficult Concepts available through The Grove International

Visual practitioner how-to books – filled with ideas of how to run and get the best possible outcomes from meetings and events using your visual thinking techniques – my three favourite are:

Fellow Aussie, Amantha Imber’s Creativity Formula
  1. Visual Meetings: How Graphics, Sticky Notes & Idea Mapping can Transform Group Productivity by David Sibbet
  2. The Graphic Facilitator’s Guide: How to use your listening, thinking & drawing skills to make meaning by Brandy Agerbeck
  3. The Creativity Formula: 50 Scientifically Proven Creativity Boosters for Work and for Life by Dr Amantha Imber

I use the above six titles regularly – dipping in when I need to check an image or source an idea from the plethora these talented people have collated from their experience. I think all six are a great addition to any practising Graphic Facilitator or Recorder’s professional kit.

Happy gear freaking*!



* term used by uni friends when we were into all things outdoors and we would spend any spare moment at our favourite store seeing what great new stuff – like freeze-dried vegemite – was available for our through-walks!


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