Visual Thinking / Graphic Facilitation Tools

I’ve recently launched bl00viz, a way for people to hire me for my graphic facilitation and visual thinking skills. This is the second in a 3-part series. Part one can be found here.

So, I do these live drawings while people are speaking in order to demonstrate their ideas. I started doing visual thinking in earnest when someone turned left in front of me, causing a shattered radius. Since, it’s become my primary method of note taking, and a wonderful way to augment written notes.


Many people who do graphic facilitation use huge sheets of paper. I have a great deal of admiration for them, because I’m not that good yet! In order to layer, adapt, and correct spelling mistakes, I prefer the digital format. I also like how portable, streamable, and sharable the digital format is. After playing with a Surface and an Android tablet, I still use an iPad – the least laggy for the tools I use. Always be sure it’s charged up and backed up, yada yada.


I used to use my finger, but I find a stylus helps both in natural movement, detail, and not having dirty screen. There are tons of styluses you can get from Radio Shack, or the Apple store, or whatever, but I use an electrostatic sock over a chopstick from this dude on Etsy.

Adobe Ideas

I use Adobe Ideas is what I draw in. It provides many useful components while not being so overwhelming as to be ungainly, nor difficult for new users. Graphics are vector, though the canvas isn’t quite infinite. It exports as PDF, which can be surprisingly versatile once you get ahold of them. And, it imports nicely into Prezi.


Prezi is what a lot of this work goes into. It lets me guide the way people move through notes – nested ideas, Easter eggs, and all. That is probably a tutorial in and of itself, but here is something about how my brain works around it.

The play between an semi-infinite canvas, vector graphics, and visual layout really shines in Prezi. You can show a non-linear story while also providing a way for people see the whole system at once. It’s also great for embedding far more content than you cover in a talk, and letting people go in later to explore for themselves.

AirServer + ScreenFlow

I find it’s super fun to record the process of drawing itself. I do this by having both my laptop and iPad on the same network, and then loading up AirServer. This allows what I’m doing on my iPad to be mirrored on my laptop. Which means I can use ScreenFlow to record that mirroring (plus any audio). When played back at a faster rate, you can see an hour-long talk be drawn in 5 minutes.

This also means it’s possible to stream to screens in hallways and behind speakers at conferences.

Check back Friday for the third part in this series, about advanced techniques and collaboration!