Method description and history

Visualisation is a powerful tool for presenting complex things in a simple and engaging way. It is cross-cultural and works with people from all cultures and backgrounds. Visualisation can also be used with young people to help them represent their experiences in graphical ways.

The main advantage of this is to engage people to listen and concentrate and identify the most important parts of the visualised story. Visualisations also help to get the message across to the target audience. People share visual stories more frequently in a social media than textual stories.

To read more about visualisation methods in learning in general, please read other chapter of this toolbox.



  1. Warming up: Practice drawing different objects and abstract ideas
  2. Watch a short presentation from YouTube; imagine what kinds of images are needed to tell the story.
  3. Visualisation: Watch and listen to the story again and visualise it simultaneously (If the group is experienced, you can start the workshop at this point)
  4. Editing: After the presentation, take some time to finish your sketches and draw the parts you did not have time to complete during the live presentation
  5. Sharing: Share your stories in social media or other platform (e.g. Google Drive)
  6. Debriefing: After the workshop, the participants can discuss how they felt during the exercise and discuss the visualisation process (what went well, what could be better) and evaluate whether they listen the story in a different way when they make visual notes.

How to apply for people with disabilities or fewer opportunities

In practice, everyone except visually-impaired people can draw and one of the goals of the workshop is empower people to realise this. Bear in mind that ‘bring(ing) your own device’ may not be possible for people with fewer opportunities. When implementing digital visualisation, ensure you have a number of devices with you for participants who may not have their own. Visualisation workshops can be done with pens and paper as well.

Tips and tricks

  • Seek out and share captivating visualisation and infographic examples in the beginning. Presenting complex and simple graphics encourages people who are not familiar with drawing to experience the method. (Tip: show the work of cartoonist Hugleikur Dagsson.)
  • Assign easy, concrete and abstract things/subjects to draw – demonstrate how you would draw them. (like people, buildings, charts and abstract things which are attached to participants’ work (like “decision making”, “politics”, “pollution)
  • Explain the importance of choosing the right colours (culturally differentiated meaning; chromostereopsis; colours that don’t work together). Pay attention to colour-blindness palettes
  • Present the gestalt principle and how we link images together by their similarity, proximity, framing and symmetry. etc.)
  • Play a presentation and ask people to sketch and listen. Complete the task on the second listening and give participants time to polish up the drawings. Share the visualisations and reflect on the experience


  • Helps people to be creative
  • Teaches an effective and almost universal way of communicating with people


  • The method may be challenging to implement the first time around: many people are not
    used to drawing and it takes time to convince them that everyone can make visualisation
  • You need specific equipment for the task
  • For infographics you need a PC.

Practical informations

When you might use it: Live visual notes / sketching can be used when it is necessary to create engaging, fun and understandable presentations from a complex presentation or process.
Time Required: The required time depends on the length and complexity of the visualised story/text/presentation. It can be sketched simultaneously with the presentation (lasts as long as the presentation lasts) or it can be a complex drawing which takes several days to prepare.
How many people involved: Visualisations are usually made by one person, but they can be planned in a groups of 2-4 persons. It is positive if the evaluation is made by a person who has not been involved in to the creation process.
Target: All range of target groups. People who are comfortable creating illustrations and graphics.
Where: It can be applied in any environment, but you need a good place to draw (equipment, table, light). The practice can be done by following speeches in YouTube.
Materials Required: You can sketch with pens (different colours) and paper, and make a digital photo for sharing via social media. For best results, try a (digital) pencil and a pad.


The methodological description is based on the text produced by Jarmo Röksä. Developing Youth Work Innovation. E-handbook. Project Future Labs. Erasmus+, KA2, 2019. Publication of Humak University of Applied Sciences, page 84.

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