Working with TEDx

On three different occasions I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with a TEDx event in Portland, Oregon and put my sketchnoting skills to use while contributing to an event that I’ve always been proud to be a part of.

I’d like to tell you the story of those three years, because there is something in that work that I think you might be able to pull something from and use in your own.

How I Got Into Sketchnoting

First, it’s worth mentioning that TED talks are the reason that I got into sketchnoting in the first place. I stumbled upon Sunni Brown’s talk Doodler’s Unite at just the right time, when I was looking for a creative skill to develop on the side:

Now that skill is front and center in my work, but when I first got involved with TEDxMtHood (formerly TEDxConcordiaUPortland) back in 2013, I was still pretty new to sketchnoting, and at that time I had zero experience making videos.

Working with TEDxMtHood

So when I was asked to help out with some short videos that would be used to introduce speakers right before coming on stage, I had my sketchnoting skills to contribute but I also got to collaborate with two other members of the TEDx team to actually make something interesting and useful.

All it took was one long evening, just a week or so before the event. The lead organizer Michelle Jones and videographer George Mihaly gathered in my dining room around a table with a bunch of equipment that was totally new to me at the time, and together we planned out what to sketch onto the page for each speaker, and recorded it right then and there.

In that single night we recorded videos for all of the speakers.

The next year it was once again George and I who were tasked with making speaker intro videos. We enjoyed what we had done the year before and wanted to do something similar, but not exactly the same. We still wanted those intros to be hand-made, but we thought, “this time let’s remove the hand and go with a stop-motion approach instead.”

And then this year, within just the last few months, I’ve had the opportunity to help with that same task. This time, though, I got to take a back seat on the project. Leading it was my ongoing collaborator and contributor here at Verbal to Visual, Austin Louis.

And since I’ve gotten more comfortable with cameras since those first two years, we were able to do a pretty good job of documenting the entire process of making the videos that introduced each speaker at TEDxMtHood 2017, as you can see in the video at the top of this page.

The Power of Collaboration

As much as I enjoy sitting in my own office making videos by myself, there’s something that’s much more powerful about getting outside of your own head and collaborating with others to make something that none of the participants could have created on their own.

So the question that I want to leave you with is this:

Who might you collaborate with and for what purpose, and how might you stretch your skills (sketchnoting or otherwise) along the way?

I wish you the best of luck in exploring that question.




Want To Dig Deeper?

If you’re new to the idea of sketchnoting and excited to develop more visual thinking tools, I think you’d enjoy our foundational course An Introduction To Visual Note-Taking.

If you’re an educator interested in bringing visual note-taking into your classroom, check out Sketchnoting In The Classroom.

If you’d like to make sketchnoted videos like the one you saw here, we’ve got a course for that too! Check out How To Make Sketchnote Videos.

And if you want to create new personal and professional opportunities by sharing the authentic journey of your skill development online, check out Learn In Public.