How to draw to remember more | Graham Shaw | TEDxVienna


Translator: Oksana Molodoria
Reviewer: Marìa Antonella Grassi I wonder if you can relate to this. Have you ever had trouble remembering
information? Lines of writing like this? When I was at school,
one way I used to learn was this: I used to read. And reading’s
a great way to learn, isn’t it? But you know, sometimes my expression
would be a bit like this. Because what I used to find was that
sometimes I’d be reading all these lines and they just weren’t going in.
Is this familiar to you? And I’d sometimes turn the paper over
and try to remember it and my mind had just gone blank
and I couldn’t remember anything. And then I’d start to get really worried. I’d start to sweat and fret and get all anxious, especially if it got near
to the examination. And I thought to myself,
“I’m never gonna remember any of this!” And I also thought to myself, “There
must be an easier way, mustn’t there?” And there is. Because if we take that information and
we turn it into a picture with a drawing, we remember it. Because when we draw,
we remember more! But you know the only trouble with that? People say, “That’s a great idea
but I can’t draw.” But I believe everybody can draw certainly
well enough to make learning memorable. And today I’d like to show you
how to do that. We’re gonna start building up our
visual tool kit with, firstly, a circle. So get your paper ready. Let’s have a go. Have your paper this way around
like the flip chart. And we are gonna start
by simply drawing a circle like that. Next, what I’d like you to do is
draw two more circles and make them into eyes. Then a nose. And then a nice smile. And now over here let’s try another one. Some more eyes,
this time looking in this way and a nose. And this time let’s do
a different expression a circle which we can shade in
and we’ve got a shocked expression. Let’s try one more just down here. Another circle! And this time
draw the eyes, but looking upward, and then a nose. And now watch carefully,
if you blink, you might miss it. (Laughter) A thoughtful expression. So that’s our first shape
in our visual tool kit, a circle. And everything we’re going to do
is gonna be as easy as that. So just turn your page over and we’re gonna build
our visual tool kit up. This time again have your page
in portrait style and we’re gonna begin over here. And the first shape we’re going to do
is a diamond. So just draw that. Then we think,
“What could we make it into?” Put a triangle on the end. Now I’m gonna put
a little eye there and a smile. Got a little fish! Perhaps some bubbles. There we are. In the centre draw a circle. Now connect the circle
with a line to the fish. We’ll call that number one. Now draw a line up here. We’ll call that number two. We’re gonna do a circle again. Just watch. Here it goes. And next a couple of eyes
looking that way. And now a nose and a smile. Something different.
Two triangles on the top and next, three lines this way,
three lines that way and we’ve got a cat! Let’s go over this way. Number three. Let’s draw a circle at the top. Now let’s draw a line down and then another line here to make a leg. Next, we’re gonna draw a line at that way and now an arm to the side and the other one up like that. So we’ve got a figure. And if we put two little lines there could be a dancer. Let’s draw number four. That’s gonna be a triangle. And let’s see what shape
we could make that into and what picture we could make it into. It looks like a boat with another
triangle and a little line underneath. We could even put a flag on top and a bit of water there. Next, come down here. Number five. We’re gonna draw a rectangle. Just watch. Just like that. And let’s put some circles here
for wheels. We could make a little bus
out of that rectangle. A horizontal line, two lines vertically for windows, and some people who are inside the bus. Next, let’s draw a vertical line. Number six. A totally different shape this time. Let’s go with a shape
that looks a bit like a cloud. But two vertical lines below and we can make it into a tree. Finally, number seven down here. We haven’t done a square yet. Let’s do a square and we can put a triangle on top, so we
combine the shapes in our visual tool kit. A little door and a couple of windows. So there we are. We’ve used the shapes in our
visual tool kit to create pictures and of course we could create many more different pictures with that. So… But the wonderful thing is the amazing power of your mind
to see pictures when they are not there. Because as you look at the picture now by just taking a mental picture,
it kinda going ‘click!’ in your mind. You can actually remember
not only the pictures but exactly where they are
located on the page. So just turn your paper over
so you can’t see and let’s do a little experiment here
and just have a look. What I’m gonna ask you to do now: I’m gonna point to different places
on the flip chart and only when I point to the fish,
do I want you to put your hand up. So do you think the fish is up here? No. Is the fish over here? Is the fish here? Thank goodness for that. (Laughter) What about the bus? Is the bus up here? Is the bus down here? You’ve got it, haven’t you? So, in fact you could remember
any of them that I’d asked. And even if I’d made it more complicated, you probably could remember
most of those drawings. So drawing is a good way of remembering and there’s some
terrific research around this. A particular study was done
at the University of Waterloo in Canada. And what they did was they asked people
to remember 30 words and they gave them
40 seconds per word. And they could either write the words
for 40 seconds and list them. So say a word like ‘balloon’. They were all simple words like that. They wrote them. Or the other task they were asked to do
was draw a simple picture of it. So there’s my balloon. Then they were given
a sort of distraction task like a kind of filler task that was to do
with music, so completely different, and then a surprise memory test. What did they find? What they found was that people typically
remembered twice as many pictures when they’d drawn them
compared with when they’d written them. So double the number of words
were remembered when they’d been drawn. I thought that was terrific, of course. And the other thing I thought
was really fascinating about it was: the quality of the drawings
didn’t appear to matter. In other words, people didn’t need
to be artistically brilliant in order to create a drawing
that stuck in their mind. And they even looked at other ways
of remembering to compare with drawing. For example, they got people
to visualize words, they got people to write
descriptions of words, and they got people to look
at pictures of words. In every single case
drawing always came out on top. So drawing was a great way
to remember that list of words. And in my experience, drawing can help us
to remember much more than lists. We can remember facts, we can remember abstract concept,
even whole topics with drawing. And I’d like to show you
how we can do that. One of the keys is
to link a picture and a meaning. So let me give you an example. Here we go. We’ve seen this before. We’ve got our tree. We could ask ourselves,
“What does the tree mean?” It could mean lots of things, couldn’t it? It might mean ‘LIFE’. It could mean ‘GROWTH’. It could mean ‘STABILITY’. And you could think of
lots of other meanings. And incidentally that’s a fantastic thing
about our drawing tool kit, because once we can draw
something like that tree we can link it to many,
many different concepts and ideas. So it’s useful to be able
to use our visual tool kit in this way. But of course, when we’re trying
to remember information, we don’t get the picture first. We’ve got the information first
or the concept and then we have to think of a picture. So we have to start getting used
to thinking in pictures. So, for example, if I said to you a
concept such as ‘innovation’, you might think,
“What picture comes to mind?” When I’m thinking of a spark,
or I’m thinking of a light bulb, we could think of many more. So it’s about thinking in pictures. So let’s get a bit of practice at thinking in pictures. Now, I could take any topic
and I’m gonna pick a topic from biology. And incidentally I am not a biologist, but one of the things
that I’m lead to believe is that white blood cells one of the things they are very good for
is defending us against germs. In fact, apparently they engulf bacteria
and they render them totally harmless. So really good to have white blood cells. Let’s think of what picture comes to mind. You could think
of lot’s of things and, of course, what’s important is that the picture
that you think of makes sense to you. We’re all individual. But I was thinking of using my visual
tool kit to create a little character. That’s a white blood cell. There it is. And why is he looking so happy? Well, he’s looking
particularly happy because he’s got a shield same shape as the fish and it’s got ‘STOP’ written on it. And, there we are, he’s holding it up. And the reason he’s holding it up is
because he’s defending us. And he’s defending us against… See this shape?
A little bit like the tree. But this time I’m gonna
make it into a germ. There he is. Give him some legs. And he’s looking particularly unhappy in fact, he’s completely fed up because he’s got his arms in the air, because he’s surrendering. He’s been completely defeated
by the white blood cell. So once we’ve got a picture like that we’ll remember it. And we could do things like
add colour to pictures which is great because
the brain does love colour. So let’s take an example
of an abstract concept. Here’s one. ‘TRUST’. We might think: “How could we possibly
remember that or illustrate that?” And people often say,
“You need to draw a handshake.” Some of you might be thinking,
“That’s tricky to draw.” A little tip from me:
there’s always an easier picture. And I’m gonna show you a picture
that somebody came up with on a workshop that I was running. And it went like this. Have you ever had the experience
of someone else coming up with an idea that you’d wished
you’d thought up yourself? (Laughter) Because as he started drawing this,
I thought, “This is so simple!” You can see
where I’m going with it, can’t you? A little figure on the top, there we are. Helping us to remember ‘TRUST’. Ok. And here we go. I wonder how well you can remember those
seven pictures that we had earlier on. I’d like you to take
a blank piece of paper and make sure you hide the original. We’ll do a little experiment here. And I want you to just to draw the circle
and the seven lines on that paper and have about a minute to just start
drawing in all the pictures you can remember. So I’ll give you some time
just starting from now. Now, you may or may not
get all of them, that’s fine. If you get stuck on one,
just look at the flip chart and pretend they’re all there. Just see if you can see them in your mind. You may want to put the numbers on. There’s a lot of concentrating going on. Can help each other
act a little bit there. Just quick sketches are fine. I can see a lot of activity down there. Ok, so you’ve had about a minute, just wherever you got to, that’s fine. You may have got some
or you may have got all. Sometimes people draw in a bit more
detail, it takes a bit longer. That’s absolutely fine. So here we go. What I’d like you to do now is altogether
just hold your pictures up facing me. Hold them up! All up! Fantastic! And I’m looking down here and wow! I can see… We’ve got all on most
I can see down the front here. You can compare them
with the flip chart here. So… Ok.
So there we are! (Laughter) Alright. So, we can actually…
A bit of excitement about, isn’t there? (Laughter)
We can actually all get used to drawing and making information
memorable with pictures. And the great thing is what I’d invite
you to do is to start using these skills for yourself and for others. You might have children,
friends or colleagues. And you could help them to use drawings
to make learning memorable because after all,
we’re all life-long learners and the ability to draw can really
expand our learning potential. So I invite you to get your drawings
out there and spread the word that when we draw, we remember more! Thank you! (Applause)

34 thoughts on “How to draw to remember more | Graham Shaw | TEDxVienna”

  1. This is literally how I study. I am in med school and one of the things I like to do is draw stick figures and stuff along with disease showing signs and symptoms and like everyone makes fun of them but I have like photographic memory of all of them and its great

  2. I tried this but my teacher gave me an F– I just drew pictures. Looks like Teachers have half of a normal brain

  3. Thank youu I NEED TO HEAR THIS, I didn't even realize it at first Lucky for me I think I'm a decent drawer LOLOLOL OMG

  4. It's highly helpful.. Becoz of this I score 98 /100 in history in just one day preparations. …i wish I would have watched this earlier

  5. I have been struggling to learn Arabic for the past 10+ years and recently I started drying images on my vocabulary cards in order to teach English and I also wrote the Arabic translation of the English words and guess what. I remembered Arabic vocabulary the next day and the day after and a week after and now I can use it in a real conversation as well. Now I tell all of my English students to draw images in order to remember words and they also remember. Now my students love me and praise me for teaching them English that have been trying to learn for decades here in panama but can't seems to learn it.

  6. This was so amazing Sir Graham πŸ™‚ loved watching the video and i had forgotten the beauty of diagrams and flowcharts and was thinking i must be getting old. This was really helpful !

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