There are few things more intimidating than a blank sheet of paper or a flashing cursor on a new document. Whether you’re writing an article or building out a business plan, the first few notes are always the toughest—and most intimidating—to jot down. But once you get something down on physical or digital paper, you might be surprised at how the ideas start flowing. So how do you break through the initial blank sheet barrier?
Start drawing and doodling. Think about all the million-dollar ideas scribbled out on napkins—even the most rudimentary drawings can inspire insights and discoveries that aren’t easily communicated through words alone. Doodling is the art of thinking. Unfortunately, many of us only stopped doodling once teachers started evaluating or grading our creations, demanding that we stay within the lines.
It’s time for you and your teams to reclaim the power of the doodle. Let’s look at how and why people should use freehand drawing to brainstorm, communicate, and improve creativity.
Why is freehand drawing important for brainstorming?
Think about the word brainstorming itself. Sounds a bit chaotic, right? That’s actually the whole point. The very nature of brainstorming is getting every idea, no matter how messy, on to paper. This process can help reveal new ideas, patterns, or concepts. When done collaboratively, brainstorming can elevate the creative and conceptual brainpower of the entire group.
Freehand drawing can act as an extension of the neurological process of brainstorming. If it’s tough to verbalize or write down your ideas, try drawing them instead. Because drawing and doodling engage your mind, hands, and vision, it taps into more senses, helping you absorb more information in your environment.
Research also shows that freehand drawing increases blood flow to reward areas of the brain and that people report feeling more creative and capable of solving problems after freehand drawing. In other words, the simple process of doodling can open the creative floodgates.
Great ideas can come from any corner of the company. Freehand drawing and sketching give everyone the power to share their ideas in a way that makes sense to them. The flexibility of sketching also allows you to explore ideas and concepts quickly without the confines of formal documentation.
How freehand drawing enhances creativity during meetings
If you’re looking to inspire creativity during your next meeting, consider incorporating freehand drawing. It’s playful, engaging, and it gets people to participate in meetings in new and unique ways. In fact, research shows that nearly 75% of people have lower cortisol levels after making freeform art and this stress reduction can inspire creativity.
Plus, freehand drawing makes it easy to give on-the-spot feedback on wireframes, documents, and project roadmaps during working sessions. You can circle items, star a great idea, draw arrows to connect thoughts, and even sketch out basic layouts.
How freehand drawing improves communication
Many of us are visual learners and visualizations can make it easier to remember details and concepts. Data backs this up, too. Research from the Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology shows that groups of people that doodled during an attention task recalled 29% more information on a surprise memory test. And let’s face it—it’s a whole lot more fun and engaging to brainstorm around visual concepts than long pages of meeting notes.
This same power of visualization applies to communication, too. Freehand drawing offers more freedom of expression, taps into a broader range of reactions, and accesses a visual and universal language. By turning complex ideas into more straightforward visual elements, you can better understand the concept and communicate that concept visually to other team members.
When to use freehand drawing
Since the beginning of recorded historical time, humans have been making sense of the world through drawing. Everything from cave drawings to illustrations to maps and the humble doodle—drawings help us remember, record, explain, pass the time, and share ideas. By helping us articulate our understanding of big and small concepts, drawing is also an essential part of problem-solving, which means it’s also a necessary part of many design processes.
Freehand drawing is a great way to communicate ideas to remote teams, as well. According to first-party research conducted by Lucid, 27% of remote workers prefer drawing (over verbal techniques) to communicate their ideas. And while many digital brainstorming tools exist to help you build out beautiful charts, tables, maps, and other visualizations of your ideas, many of those same techniques can be used in conjunction with freehand drawing or digital freehand tools to better collaborate and communicate with teammates in real time.
Let’s look at a few use cases where freehand drawing or sketching can come in handy.
UX product design
In the digital age, the user experience for many brands is inherently complex and often disconnected. Freehand drawing helps UX product design teams quickly highlight UX gaps and collaborate around better user experiences. Teams can evaluate the feasibility of features and eliminate layout and functionality issues.
Design Thinking workshops
The name of the game in Design Thinking workshops is open-ended creativity. Freehand drawing a perfect tool to encourage open-ended thinking and collaboration. In conjunction with everyday craft supplies, virtual whiteboard tools, and more, freehand drawing is a great way to promote real-time visual collaboration, no matter where your team happens to be working.
Project plans often come to life mid-collaboration, and priorities often shift as the project moves along. Freehand drawing can help you maintain an agile approach to project management by helping you clearly communicate where steps, stages, or priorities have changed.
Mapping out a new strategy can be a stressful process, especially if you’re pivoting from an existing business plan. Freehand drawing can help you explore and map out new plans of attack without the pressure of a more formal document or chart.
Of course, a finalized strategy document should be thoroughly reviewed, vetted, and codified with the proper buy-in. But because your team knows that a sketch can be changed quickly, freehand drawing opens the door for discussion and collaboration in a way that more formal documentation or processes can’t.
Incorporate freehand drawing into formal brainstorming sessions to give your collaboration skills a significant upgrade, especially when working with remote teams. Using digital collaboration and virtual whiteboard tools like Lucidspark, you can host dynamic brainstorming and mind mapping sessions to capture your team’s best ideas on a creative, intuitive canvas that incorporates freehand drawing, sticky notes, emojis, and more to make collaboration fun again.
Freehand drawing is proven to boost creativity and promote collaboration, and it might help your teams come up with their next big idea.
Now it’s your turn to try your hand at freehand drawing during your next brainstorming session by signing up for Lucidspark today.Spark your creativity
Lucidspark, a cloud-based virtual whiteboard, is a core component of Lucid Software's Visual Collaboration Suite. This cutting-edge digital canvas brings teams together to brainstorm, collaborate, and consolidate collective thinking into actionable next steps—all in real time. Lucid is proud to serve top businesses around the world, including customers such as Google, GE, and NBC Universal, and 99% of the Fortune 500. Lucid partners with industry leaders, including Google, Atlassian, and Microsoft. Since its founding, Lucid has received numerous awards for its products, business, and workplace culture. For more information, visit lucidspark.com.