How do you process information? By taking notes. In traditional classes, we learned to write down everything. But for powerful selling, visual note taking at a whiteboard is much more powerful.

Curious how to pump up your whiteboard note taking? In talking with graphic facilitators, whiteboard sellers and creative visual story sellers, 5 practices consistently surface. It doesn’t seem to matter what the topic is. It doesn’t seem to matter what their expertise or role is.

All that matters is speaking a fluent visual language—one that is ready to go at a moment’s notice. If this sounds like fun, believe me…it is a blast.

You might have to pinch yourself when you’re in front of a serious group of analytical business folks and you’re mapping things out in pictures and words. And guiding the conversation to ask the right questions, address concerns and simplify complex processes.

Unlike classic note taking, you won’t write down every single word. Instead, you’ll capture key ideas and illustrate as you go along.

While there is a huge amount to learn to master the skill of whiteboard selling and impromptu visual note taking, these 5 top practices will get you started. Instantly.

1. Practice Like Crazy
Much like learning a foreign language, practice like crazy. Go wild. Draw, write and sketch ideas. Map information in different ways. Lists. Clusters. Columns. Branches.

The more you practice, the more fluid you’ll become.

2. Rehearse On Specific Topics
In addition to general practice, focus on the kinds of topics you’ll be discussing with customers and prospects. If you’re showing a process flow for working with your company, sketch it out. If you are detailing frequently asked questions, practice visuals that make the concepts memorable.

3. Practice Listening
One of the least practiced skills is the one you’ll use the most: listening. There are hundreds of ways to practice listening—and visual note taking. Here are my top 7 favorites:

• Capture telephone conversations
• Depict a one-on-one interaction with a friend
• Illustrate an inspirational talk--live or video
• Translate the key ideas from a PowerPoint presentation
• Show the flow of a lecture
• Take visual notes during a staff meeting
• Create a whiteboard record of a family discussion

Each of these ‘rehearsals’ helps you develop better listening skills. If you don’t like these suggestions, come up with your own. Focus on opportunities to learn new information, translate ideas into pictures and words, and invent on the spot.

4. Build Speed Skills
While many graphic designers, cartoonists and visual practitioners prefer to sketch in a journal or at a drafting table, working with a live audience is a different animal.

You must be ready for one thing: speed. Conversation is fast. You won’t have time for tons of detail, changing your mind, or embellishing what you’ve drawn. In fact, it’s a less controllable than when you’re sketching in your studio.

Working in front of an audience is improvisational art. You must come up with ideas—on the spot. Naturally, this is easier if you’ve been practicing all the steps we’ve just covered.

The trick here is to have a storehouse of responses so you can flow with fast input and unexpected twists and turns.

5. Improvise Like A Pro
With more ideas and more options the better. Develop a surplus and you'll feel more flexible and confident. When you’re drawing at the whiteboard, everyone is watching. They may have preconceived ideas of what you will do. But truly, it’s up to you.

You’re managing the space of the whiteboard. You’re managing the tools, colors and markers. And you’re managing the depth of detail.

About the only thing that can go wrong are things that you control. Specifically, your mental state. By keeping an open mind, non-judgmental attitude, it’s easier to stay in the flow of conversation.

If working at the whiteboard for selling, presenting and training sounds appealing to you, use these 5 tips. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. With a small amount of focus, practice and rehearsal, you’ll always have ideas ready to go.

Author's Bio: 

Milly Sonneman is a recognized expert in visual language. She is the co-director of Presentation Storyboarding, a leading presentation training firm, and author of the popular guides: Beyond Words and Rainmaker Stories available on Amazon. Milly helps business professionals give winning presentations, through Email Marketing skills trainings at Presentation Storyboarding. You can find out more about our courses or contact Milly through our website at: