Home » When in Doubt, Doodle

As a presentation consultancy, we understand the power of visual communication in business. One often overlooked tool in this arsenal is doodling.

Doodling may seem like a frivolous activity, but research has shown that it can actually improve creative thinking and cognitive function.

For example, a 2009 study published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology found that doodling helped participants to remember 29% more information from a dull phone message than those who did not doodle. Another study, published in the journal Memory, found that doodling helped participants to remember more information from a list of words.

Great modern presenters (think of your favourites – Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, the latest TED Talk you watched) are known for their ability to captivate audiences with their speeches. And while they may not have been known for doodling, they understood the power of visual communication. They used anecdotes, imagery, and storytelling to make their points, rather than relying on bullet points and statistics alone.

At Eyeful, we take doodling seriously.

Doodling on paper.

Doodling on digital devices (a case in point – tablets like ReMarkable are popping up everywhere in our business).

Doodling on whiteboards.

Our offices are filled with sketches and scribbles, all of which aid creative thinking and idea development. The freedom and creativity of doodling allows us to break away from the constraints of preformatted templates and PowerPoint slides and instead create something truly unique and impactful.

And then there’s the efficiency of the process – doodling provides a level of agility that simply doesn’t happen if you’re tied to your slides/artboard. You’re able to play with ideas with just a few flicks of a pen/stylus and, just as importantly, quickly discount those that aren’t working. In short, it accelerates the development process.

This thinking isn’t limited to the world of presentations. Take a moment to Google Hollywood storyboards. Some are beautiful works of art, while others resemble the output of a child drawing in the dark, but most importantly, the idea is communicated.

Knives Out (2019) Source: Bored Panda

However, we understand that not everyone feels comfortable with doodling. It can seem personal and even unprofessional, but we implore you to embrace your inner doodler in 2023. Take a break from the computer and grab a pencil and paper (or tablet). Allow yourself to let go and let your mind wander. Not only you will enjoy the process, but also your brain will retain more information and will be more creative, as well as making your presentation more engaging. And it truly doesn’t matter how beautiful the graphic is if it helps you communicate (see the ‘Knives Out’ storyboard above). In fact, making it look ‘nice‘ is purely narcissistic time theft at this stage, so embrace the wobbly lines and be ready to explain, “that’s a person, honest”.

So, the next time you’re preparing a presentation, don’t be afraid to doodle. It may seem silly, but studies have shown that it can improve your memory retention and creativity. And if anyone questions your doodling, remind them that great the likes of Steve and Barack understood the power of visual communication and storytelling, and that’s what makes a presentation memorable.

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