Facilitate Non-Artists to Sketch

At my work at university, I was often a facilitator for groups in workshops to produce unique insights and interesting visualizations. We experimented with a lot of things – one particularly successful idea was pair-programming, but for presentation-making. Not every pair thrived, but all pairs found out something new in the process. So I’m – well, not “on the hunt”, more like: passively fishing for new ideas like this all the time.

Just this week I came across Nielsen Norman Group’s newsletter edition about sketching of diagrams, user interfaces, and stuff like that: “How to Get Stakeholders to Sketch: A Magic Formula”. Their formula boils down to 4 key components to encourage non-artists to participate, reduce their averse feelings, and create visualizations:

  1. Use fat markers: thick strokes look more sketchy than thin lines, so they’ll think about the general picture more;
  2. Tiny spaces: folded paper or note cards can help to overcome the fear of the blank paper;
  3. Time Limits that are enforced by the facilitator can help to encourage high quantity output.
  4. Ugly Examples that are very lo-fi encourage participants to draw ugly stuff as well

There’s no real magic involved, but this is useful advise to keep in mind when you prepare the next brainstorming session or meeting.