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UK Coaching Team
Organising and Planning

Introducing Sketchnoting into your Coaching

UK Coaching’s Chris Chapman explores with People Developer Liz Burkinshaw, of LB Consulting, how sketchnoting can be a useful tool in any coach’s toolkit. Whether you use it to capture your thoughts from a podcast, reflections from an event, planning your coaching session or thoughts from a coaching session, let’s explore how you can add sketchnoting to your skillset

Sketchnoting is a great way to put your ideas on paper. If you have a passion for pens, pencils, highlighters and bright colours; this is perfect for you.

Sketchnoting combines handwriting, emphasising key words, using symbols, connecting ideas and using borders and shapes to focus on aspects of your thinking and reflections.

Sketchnoting helps you focus and stimulate your thoughts and actively engages you in the thinking process. Using a variety of approaches helps us to recall and remember important information, ideas and reflections.

It really is as simple as 1, 2, 3!

  1. Be in the moment and listen, watch, reflect.
  2. Take time to process what you see, hear, feel; you don’t need a page of notes. Write down and capture the important items which will help stimulate you to recall more deeply. One great quote, a symbol or key word will be more powerful than a page of text. Less is definitely more.
  3. Be legible and clear. You can add more colour and detail afterwards (if attending an event, that could mean listening to a podcast or watching a webinar). Use the size of words, symbols, lines and arrows to connect and highlight.

Liz Burkinshaw shared here expertise with those who attended the 2020 UK Coaching Research Conference. She provides her top tips and ideas to get started.

Remember it’s not about the art, it’s your ideas, reflections and creating a visual of your notes. 

You can revisit, add to, highlight and, when you have finished, use a border to show this.

Sharing her journey into sketchnoting, Liz says: “The first rule of sketchnoting is that it is about IDEAS and not about ART. As with anything you will improve if you practice. Do it for your own purpose and joy. Don’t worry about how other people sketch or how ‘good’ they are. Just create your own style (just like in coaching). Remember that comparison is the thief of joy! 

“You may start with simple shapes to get you going and find what works for you. I originally started by just sketching stick people. I have progressed to adding detail to highlight different people to add detail to my notes or reflections. Most recently I tried representing specific individuals with one or two key facial features as I wanted a record of who had attended. 

“If you get stuck, then look around for inspiration for how you could represent an idea. I often find ideas for different fonts when out and about or on everyday objects around the house.”

Have a go

Liz’s 7-day Sketchnote Challenge

Day 1: Draw a wide variety of lines and shapes.
Day 2: Sketch your favourite arrows and borders. 
Day 3: Write in a new font: decorated, three dimensional or your own fancier style.
Day 4: Find your people. Faces, bodies and people in action.
Day 5: Draw some common icons you might use frequently.
Day 6: Plan how you will lay out your sketchnote: spider, column or a pathway.
Day 7: Compete your own sketchnote. Any theme you like. 


Let’s take a look at how other coaches have used sketchnoting in their practice.

Hockey coach Wendy Russell uses sketchnoting to help in her session planning.


Anita North, a shooting coach working within the GB pathway, uses sketchnoting as a mindfulness practice, capturing her thoughts and feelings each month and using the technique to help her reflect and consider.

More recently Anita has begun to use sketchnoting to aid her planning and post-session reflections.

Top Tips

Six Strategies for Effective Reflective Practice

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Making Reflective Practice Meaningful

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Related Resources

  • Understanding How Reflection Can Help You

  • Reflection: Developing Your Coaching Craft

  • Eight Steps to Great Coaching Reflection


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UK Coaching Team