Doodling can actually improve concentration and help an individual focus on content. In fact, some companies, such as Facebook, Zappos, and HomeAway, are encouraging, even training, employees to doodle, according to the Wall Street Journal.
You’re holding a seminar or office meeting. Should you pass out notepads to the attendees so they can doodle while you speak? The answer may surprise you.
Allison Cooley, the inbound marketer with SumTotal, was caught doodling during an office meeting. “My face reddened, and I tried to play it off as taking notes,” she says, but adds that her doodling started a much-needed conversation about the habit.
It’s unfortunate that doodling has such bad connotations when in reality, it is actually helpful. A 2009 study by Jackie Andrade, a psychology professor at Plymouth University in the U.K, found that doodling “removes distraction and lets the brain focus, process information and come to deeper, more insightful realizations.”
In fact, some companies have created a new position known as a graphic recorder, for an employee who is responsible for sketching cartoon-style meeting notes. Many feel that these notes are more engaging and entertaining to employees, who are unlikely to read meeting notes provided in the usual text format.
Nora Herting is a graphic recorder with ImageThink who claims to have recorded many different styles of meetings “from strategy sessions, to brainstorming and branding sessions, I have heard and drawn it all,” she says.
The brain is a very active, complex organ. During situations where an individual is bored, the brain does not shut down. In fact, quite the opposite, according to Andrade. The brain will try to manufacture something to think about during times of boredom, which typically results in daydreaming. But if the individual begins to doodle, the brain is stimulated enough to remain in the current situation and make use of the knowledge gained.
So passing out company notepads prior to a meeting or seminar is truly not a bad idea. Allow your employees and guests to take notes, sketch, and doodle as they absorb the information you are supplying. You may help them to retain the facts as well as process them in a unique way that can be beneficial to the organization.
What kind of benefits does doodling provide?
- Improves concentration. Andrade’s study found that participants who doodled during a phone call were able to remember 29 percent more than those who simply took notes. It is believed that doodling engages the brain’s ability to multi-task, plan, and concentrate.
- Increases productivity. Employees who are free to doodle are often considered more productive than their counterparts. The “mindless” activity seems to help them recall facts that they may have missed the first time around from meetings or seminars, increasing productivity.
- Keeps you present. Have you noticed a far-off look in your attendees’ eyes? Or perhaps a smirk at an inappropriate time? Sadly, these individuals may have left the building mentally. They are making their grocery list, replaying a conversation, or remembering a funny meme. Doodling seems to provide the exact amount of stimulation to keep the brain in the present situation.
- Is a creative outlet. Whether you consider yourself a creative person or not, doodling is a great, unpressured format for releasing those creative juices. Certainly, creative expression is a worthy goal in itself.
- Helps with new ideas. Doing something creative opens up the mind to generating new ideas and thinking about problems in new and different ways. It also can prevent direct, conscious thought about a problem, which often can lead to a subconscious solution.
So before your next presentation, consider handing out a stack of company notepads and encourage your attendees to doodle while you speak. You may be surprised what they learn from the seminar.