Sketchnoting. How to start?


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I was afraid to take out my markers. I was imagining that people will be starting at me, or maybe they will not staring, but I will be thinking that they are staring and would not be able to take my etui with markers. Nevertheless, I took them out and in twenty minutes I made a photo of the ready-made sketchnote of a speech and sent it to the speaker. It was my first real attempt to do real-time scribing at a conference.

Very recently a former colleague of mine introduced me to the main elements of visual scribing or sketchnoting and I tried to do make a visual summary (this is what meant by scribing or sketchnoting) of a couple of TED speeches. And less than in a week I was already trying to do real-time sketchnoting at a conference.


There are several basic elements and principles of visual scribing that we need in order to start.

Structure of visual summaries

  • The title is to be written by a black marker more thick than the main text marker. It makes your page very presentable and makes the title pop-up. Immediately it shows that your page is something more than just notes on the speech. Then add a frame around the title.
  • One speech – one page. If you limit yourself it makes you more creative and inventive, it makes you think about the structure of the page each second. If you know how long the speech will last approximately (10 minutes, half an hour or an hour), you can already break your page in section in your head and fill it in proportionally to the time.
  • The balance of the page. You can have a grid in your head like in noughts and crosses game and follow that virtual grid as you go. The easiest speeches to map on your page is the ones where the speaker announces the number of main points: 12 lessons from my life, 3 main rules of the Dutch culture).
Scribing Blog Listen to your broccoli

The visual summary of the TED speech by Anne Lamott, the author of the book Bird by Bird.

Main Elements

  • Block letters. The text should be written in block letters.
  • Little human figures. From one side these little figures are just decorations, but they attract attention and they fit any topic. The speaker is a human always, so you can always place him on your page and add a dialogue cloud. The page will look more diverse if the figures are of different shapes: oval, square, triangle or of diamond shape.

Pay attention to the hands. Different positions of the hands also ensure you have some variety on the page. The most amusing fact for me is how the little figures are brought to life by filling in their heads with beige color. I would never think that this would make any difference, but now I am so enjoying by bringing in this finishing touch.

  • Frames, clouds and dialogue boxes. These elements help to highlight and structure the content. I am at the moment using them without any particular strategy. Short quotes look good in dialogue boxes, bullet points look nice if places in a frame. That’s about it.
  • Visual library. Your visual library! The main visual symbols that you start to use is your library. For example a symbol of a computer, book, phone, light bulb. Sketchnoting is done on the fly and it is hard to invent symbols on the fly. It is more likely that I will gradually extend my visual library by looking at examples of others.
  • Birds. If you started a line on the page that you do not like or need anymore, make a scribble out of it and then make a bird by adding beak, tail, and legs. The birds do not spoil the page at all and do not draw attention, so you can always fix everything by making a bird out of it.

Decoration of the page

After the summary is ready, you need just a couple of steps to finalize your page:

  • Make the faces of little human figures beige and make their clothes of different colors.
  • Add shadows using grey color. Everything should have a shadow: frames, figures, clouds.
  • The following steps I try to do at the very beginning, but if there is no time, then in the end: frame around the title, date and name of the speaker, my signature (sketchnote by Hanna Mironchyk).
  • Add emphasize by using color.

…That speaker liked my very simple and not that pretty sketchnote and she even offered to meet and thank personally. Could it happen if I would not take out my markers? I doubt it.

A visual summary of the speech “Three stories about the Netherlands that fascinate me”. April 2019. Toastmasters District Conference.


Scribing. How to start? Blog Listen to your broccoli
Scribing. How to start? Blog Listen to your broccoli

Take the Lead. Would you like to be portrayed by Antonio Banderas in a movie?

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I am terribly fond of movies about dancing and everything around dancing. I am also terribly fond of movies based on real stories. Sometimes I think they should only film those. I still plan to publish a list of my favorite movies inspired by real life.

Take the lead starring Antonio Banderas is a movie based on a real story of Pierre Dulaine who organized a ballroom dancing course for children from the US ‘black’ schools. Thousands of unprivileged children that got a chance to see another side of life, learned to communicate, got attention. His program covered 400 000 participants in 31 cities around the globe.


The movie is focused on the beginning of this path. Pierre saw a teenager who was crashing a car in the street. Ater that Pierre found the school, met the headmaster and offered to give a course on ballroom dancing at this school. I was thinking a lot about this scene. So you see a teenager who is destroying someone’s property in the street, what would this encourage you to do? To call the police? To be afraid? To be annoyed? To decide to change the area of living? Would you just pass by, complain about teenagers or would you create a program for these troubled children?

So apparently the reaction could be coming to a black school and teaching ballroom dancing to aggressive teenagers.

Initially, Banderas did not want to take the part, as he thought that this is just a movie about dancing. But then he met real-life Pierre Dulaine and decided to participate in the movie.

 Most interesting scenes from ‘Take the Lead’

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  • The first visit of Pierre to the school and his conversation with the headmaster. Interesting dialogue and humor and sadness and a very good set of actors.
  • All dancing scenes and especially the one where Pierre invited an experienced female dancer to show how dance can look like (the main photo of this post).
  • Cameo (tradition to film a real person to which the movie is dedicated in a secondary role). The real-life Pierre is playing the role of one of the judges. I think that’s him in the screenshot below.

Фильм Держи ритм Блог Listen to your broccoli

Most interesting facts from the life of Pierre Dulain

Реальный Пьер Дюлэйн пошел дальше — создал курсы танцев в Яффе, Израиле, где заставил арабских и еврейских детей танцевать вместе и назвал эту программу «танец с врагом».

В своем ТЕД выступлении Пьер говорит про то, как танец может изменить жизнь. Он предлагает выйти из зала под руку с партнером (escort position) и дома включить музыку и танцевать вместе, а потом посмотреть, как изменятся ваши отношения.

И одно из его доказательств — «представляете, как танец может изменить вашу жизнь, меня вот в кино сыграл Антонио Бандерас».  

The real-life Pierre Dulaine took the next step. He founded ballroom dancing course in Jaffe, Israel where he encouraged Arab and Jewish children to dance together and called this program ‘Dancing with an Enemy’.

In his TED speech, Pierre is talking about how dance can change your life. He offers to leave the room in the escort position with your partner, to come home, to put music on and dance together and then just watch how your relationship changes.

One of his proofs of the life-changing power of dancing is that finally thanks to ballroom dancing he was portrayed in the movie by Antonio Banderas himself.

Фильм Держи ритм Блог Listen to your broccoli

P.S. You are welcome to read other posts about cinema and series following the tags. 

Take the lead Blog Listen to your broccoli
Take the lead Blog Listen to your broccoli

Why am I watching figure skating?

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Have you ever practiced a sport where athletism, mathematics, and make-up matter? Is there such a sport? Yes, there is. This is, of course, figure skating. I am not so fond of watching sport on a couch. However, figure skating is an exception. You can watch it endlessly.

So if I am doing this I need some excuse, but before writing about reasons why I am watching figure skating, some basics:

I often hear that people do not know that there are four types of figure skating (not three), so just in case: men, women, pairs, and ice dancing (also synchronized skating).

The difference between pairs skating and ice dancing is in jumps, spirals, spins and special pairs elements (twist, throw, death spiral, balance). In ice dancing, there are dance balances, spins, dance steps on the ice, twizzles.

All competitions of figure skating consist of a short program and a free program. A short program is shorter (yes:) and consists of mandatory predefined elements. A free program is longer and gives more freedom in the choice of elements. The aim is of course to choose most ‘expensive’ elements.

Figure skating is story and beauty 

There are trends and fashion for music, costumes, styles in figure skating. 

There are popular music compositions that are used every figure skating season (Carmen for example) and then reviewers would spend ages discussing who is the best Carmen of all the times. There are trendy music themes like movie songs.  For example, Dirty Dancing, La la land, Moulin Rouge (this is a must watch). There are even programs inspired by sculptures like Kiss of Rodin (old video). There are programs inspired by ballet music: Swan Lake (and here the same partner with another lady), Don Quixote

Female figure skaters often have dresses inspired by haute couture.

Figure skating is mathematics and calculations

Elements and their sequence in the figure skating program are predefined and scripted by the figure skaters and their coaches. However while in the process of performing the athlete can still replace, skip or add an element (for example if they failed one of the jumps) and perform an element in a different moment of the program. And of course, they should make the right choice about the type of element, timing and the ‘price’. For example, Alina Zagitova made the right choice: she did not succeed to perform triple rittberger jump in the right place and she added it later and that allowed her to win the gold Olympic medal.

Figure skating is about life

I wanted to start the sentence with the statement that figure skating is a soap opera, probably it is more life than soap opera. How is it to spend the whole day on the skating rink and be partners in real life and spend the rest of the day together. And then stop being a couple in real life but still spend the whole day together. Or one of the partners starts a relationship with the coach and three of you still spend whole time together. How is it hate each other and still work for the same goal?

Both figure skaters and coaches know that the whole world is watching them and still the emotions that they show in the kiss and cry corner are amazing. Afterward, figure skating fans will spend hours trying to read lips in order to understand what a figure skater said to her coach after completing the program (this is a real story of figure skater Evgenia Medvedeva).

Broken figure skating couples, sportsmen leaving their coaches, public excuses and explanations. The figure skating news is constantly accompanied by all of this. I can follow this endlessly (because of anthropological interest of course:).

This cocktail of sport, beauty, music, relationship, gossips (let’s call a spade a spade) is fascinating.

Susan Jeffers. Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway. Three steps to deal with fear

Susan Jeffers Feel the fear and do it anyway | Blog Listen to your broccoli

I thought that everything already started and was afraid to enter the gym. I was signed up for an after-school basketball group. When I came for my first session, I was standing in front of the door to the sport hall and listening to the sounds of kicked balls and thought that the lesson had already started and did not dare to open the door/ The next time I came earlier and the next-next time I came even earlier than before, but the noise behind the door was the same and I did not open the door.

So if you are reading a book like ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway!’ by Susan Jeffers and you are thinking why someone will write such obvious things like ‘do not be afraid to do something’, just remember it is written for people like me. The ones who cannot open the door.

When I was reading this book, I recognized my troubles and I felt a bit more relieved because I learned that I am not the only one. In order not to forget the things that I have learned I wrote down three lessons for myself. I want to apply them in my life and then look back and see what is the result. The book was translated to thirty-five languages including Russian, so I think that means that there people who might need it as well. So I am sharing them and please share your fears in the comments. What are you afraid of?

Lesson 1. Stop the Chatterbox in your head

The Chatterbox is the constant inner voices that comment on your actions, environment, choices. Your every move is being commented on by negative thoughts. For example: “if I will take this job I will be regretting it because I might not be able to perform. If I will not take it, I will regret that I did not take. If I take it other people will think I do not deserve it.” My entire life I am leaving with this voice and I honestly thought that this voice is actually me. According to the book, it appeared that this is not a mandatory part of my life and it is possible to get rid of the voice. Or actually, transform it in the voice of a loving friend. There are several exercises in the book that are supposed to help to get over this situation.

  • Affirmations: probably everyone knows what it is. But just in case: you work up in the morning with a thought “Again. Again I have to get up to go to work so early” and instead you should think “It’s cool! I have the whole day in front of me full of new and interesting stuff. I will handle everything it gives me”. It is suggested to write affirmations on the cards and hang them around the house. I am not going to do it as I am not leaving alone, but I will probably put one at my desk and will change it every day. (I even tried to find them on sale online, but did not manage to do it so quick).
  • Pollyanna and the Glad Game: means trying to look at all events and see something good in them. Pollyanna is a character from a book who was always seeing positive things in her life events. The coffee was dropped on the carpet, good thing let’s change the carpet for a nicer one

As a result, you should a loving voice instead of the Chatterbox. The was an interesting point mentioned in the book: once you will handle the chatterbox, you will start enjoying being alone.

Lesson 2: learn to take decisions

When I have to take a decision and I look at possible options, each option looks not good enough, in every option I see disadvantages. We look at possibilities and try to predict where they lead us to, but we can never know it. Each time after taking the decision I start to regret and think that if I would choose another option, it would be better.

The book focuses on adjusting your thoughts to realizing that each chosen decision opens a new set of opportunities. The author offers to use five steps before the decision is taken and three after the decision is taken.

Before: focus on the two options, learn more about them, discuss with other people, look inside you and define your priorities, trust your intuition. And the last point ‘lighten up’, do not take everything too serious. Life is a university, we are studying. Every mistake can be corrected.

Lesson 3: take responsibility for your life

The author tries to encourage to take control of our lives using several steps (Seven Ways to Reclaim Your Power):

  1. Do not transfer the responsibility for your condition outside
  2. Do not blame yourself
  3. Realize when you start to play a victim
  4. Stop the Chatterbox
  5. Realize which bonuses lead you to adhere to victim behavior. What are you getting in the situation?
  6. Define what you want in life and start acting (ha-ha, really?)
  7. Remember that each moment of time you have different possibilities to react and you are making your own choice.

Did she write anything radically new about fear? Not sure. But for those who cannot open the door, the book is definitely useful. Did I join finally the class on basketball? Yes. At some day they were someone else who came there when I was standing in front of the door and I did enter. Everyone in the sports hall was busy with themselves, no one was staring at me when I came in.


Minsk. What to see

what to see in minsk listen to your broccoli

…if you are interested in history and not interested in ballet. I was asked once for advice on what to see in five days in Minsk – first I got scared (Why Minsk??) and then I made a list:

Minsk 101

Whatever you do in Minsk you will probably pass Praspiekt Niezaliežnasci (Independence Avenue), so why not to get familiar with it during the first day:

  • Praspiekt Niezaliežnasci with Central Post Office, Lenin and Universities, Red Church (of Saints Simon and Helena) which was saved by cinema
  • KGB building is further on the avenue. In Vilnius, they have KGB museum and in Belarus, there is a functioning one
  • GUM (State Department Store) and Centralny cafe with only standing places (once I posted something on facebook about that place) is inconspicuous, but a special place
  • Strana Mini, miniature Belarus, a nice and good place to see what else is there in Belarus to visit
  • Victory Square (and Gorky Park, observation wheel, and weather and mood permits and if you are not afraid of crowds of children)
  • Komarovka market is situated one metro stop from Victory Square. You can use the metro in order to see probably the most pretty metro station in Minsk. You can also use the tram to go somewhere.


  • Belarusian Great Patriotic War Museum (no English version)
  • Minsk Arena, in order to see the most important national sport of Belarus – hockey:)
  • National Theatre of Opera and Ballet (or just pass by if you do not like theatre and you love architecture)
  • National Library in order to get to the viewing deck. They say it is better to go there in the evening (apparently they are open till 23:00).

Walk and enjoy

  • Ratusha and Upper City: open-air concerts often during weekends (in summer) and other open-air events  
  • Zybitskaya street and vulica Revaliucyjnaja: bars and entertainments
  • Kastryčnickaja street: also bars, but different style, Minsk hipster people

Just walk by

  • Central Railway station and ‘the entrance’ (two similar buildings in front of the station)
  • Pishchalauski Castle, prison, the only place in Europe were capital sentence is executed
  • Island of tears, a memorial dedicated to soldiers who died in Afghanistan in war
  • vulica Kamunistyčnaja, 4 is a place where Li Harvey Oswald (killer of John Kennedy) lived when he was in Minsk

Next level of knowing the city

  • Osmolovka
  • Cultural Centre Horizont Factory
  • Kamsamoĺskaje lake
  • All Saints Church
  • Tractor factory
  • War cemetery
  • Museum of boulders (open air, but no Stonehedge:)

Other useful links: