"Having fun?" I whispered in his ear.
"My trick for staying focused" he whispered back, looking at me with a grin.
He saw the quizzical look on my face. "Sketching keeps me moving. I am not really aware of what I am drawing. But somehow it helps me to listen. When I hear something important I write it down. Then for some reason the artwork helps me to remember the notes."
This fascinated me. I tried it. He watched. (Note: we both knew what the witness was going to say, so it was not as if I was missing anything, or sharing any secrets with him). I didn't have my friends forty years of experience as a lawyer, so the "important stuff" wasn't as easily perceptible for me; but the sketching really did not compromise my ability to pay attention to what was going on. Rather than drawing airplanes and tanks I drew bunches of grapes, and dollar signs, and a tractor like the one they had at the winery....
This was my earliest adoption of visual note taking, and it would become a skill that I would apply to everything I do as a lawyer. It would also evolve into my adoption of mind maps as a thinking and practice tool. Some may say I am making an excuse to try and be a comic book illustrator. I am not. Visual note taking is a serious tool!
Mike Rohde has written a book entitled The Sketchnote Handbook: the illustrated guide to visual note taking. In fact, he even has a website and videos dedicated to visual note taking. His book and website offer solid examples and methods of developing the technique for visual note taking. If you want to expand the power of your brain, you should check this stuff out. Click here to visit Mike's website. This is good stuff!
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