Drawing? – Yes, you can

Are you having trouble with memorizing chunks of information? Perhaps even having trouble with accessing your stored information? Then let us introduce you to Graham Shaw, a communication coach from United Kingdom. Graham gave a remarkable speech at our big event about how everybody can learn to draw in order to make information easier to remember. After the talk we had the opportunity to chit-chat with him.

Graham, how did you end up doing what you do?

Graham: Originally, I was a primary teacher working with young children and I used to draw while teaching. I also worked in corporate training and sometimes if I was teaching, I would draw on a flip chart as a natural occurrence. One day I was giving a talk and somebody came and asked me if I would teach their trainers on how to draw on a flip chart and I went to do it! That is how I started as a freelance consultant coaching people on the art of communication. Besides that, a niche course that I run is cartooning for trainers and presenters, it is about how we get ideas across with pictures.



In your TEDxVienna talk you said that everybody can draw. What makes you actually believe that everybody can draw?

Graham: In order to teach drawing, I made up a little character called Spike. I thought if I could teach people to draw Spike, I can teach them to draw variations. This could be a convincing way to show people they can draw to an extent. Once they had drawn Spike, their minds went from “I can’t possibly draw anything” to “I can draw”. I tended to get that reaction every time I did it and this is why I believe everybody can draw.

Graham Shaw on stage.

“We remember about 90% if we see it, if we hear it, how we say it and how we do something with it.“

How does it work if you need to memorize a lot? Doesn’t it take too long to draw everything?

Graham: You are not always going to be able to draw everything when you got a lot of information. The key thing is to look at the information you already can remember and use the technique for the key information that you might have trouble with. My tip is to write the words and pictures down. If you have the word “communication” and you draw a cell phone next to it, it goes easier into memory. The brain likes different and unusual things because it is easier to remember. Identify information you are having trouble remembering with and use that technique for that.

Interesting! Seems to be worth drawing your thoughts! Finally, for the not so talented drawers among us, do you have some simple tips?


5 tips on remembering by drawing:

  1. Think in pictures.
  2. Draw simple shapes and lines.
  3. Colors are important.
  4. Re-draw/ re-peat for longer term memory.
  5. Use all your senses.

You are a communication allrounder – you teach creative and memorable ways to get messages across. What are some tips for being good at presenting?


#1 Give people a reason to listen

It is important at the beginning of the presentation to get everybody on board. Because when people come to listen to you, they are thinking for example about dropping the children to school or doing audit the next day.

“You have to get them all together saying things that are going to be meaningful to them.“

#2 Make sure you have got a clear message

If you got a clear message at the top, below that you can have pillars supporting that clear message. For example, if you are a fitness coach and you’re giving a talk about keeping fit, you might decide to have a key message. The key message could be you can influence your health, or you are in control of your health.

#3 Tell it like a story

Metaphors are very powerful and it is important to be conversational. For example, if you talk about a project, you can say it is like a journey on a mountain and we are beginning at base camp and need to get all the equipment together.

#4 More pictures less text

The brain finds it very difficult to read something and to listen to somebody simultaneously. If you got pictures or a graph, people find it much easier to concentrate and follow what you say. People like listening whilst looking at pictures.

Graham Shaw

#5 End on a high note or something big at the end

Show them their future if they implement what you are suggesting. For example, if you’re recommending exercise because you are a personal trainer, you could say, “Just imagine, that if you can start today in three months’ time. Think how fit you are going to be”.


We hope we have intrigued you a bit and if you want to learn more about how to draw, check out his talk. While waiting you can have a glance at our visual solution from visolution – a company that draws the talks live at our events.

drawing - visolution

Graham’s talk in the making by Visolution!

Photo credits: All images by TEDxVienna

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About Alba Sano

Alba is currently finishing her last semester in Business Administration. Besides that she likes to help scholarship holders at the Austrian Integration Fund as a volunteer. In her spare time she travels a lot and keeps herself busy with reading topics about health, inequality and how the world works.

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