Are you failing to be understood because you speak to the head, but forget the heart?
When you see a stick-figure, staring at you, tipping his hat in warm welcome, does it make you smile? Or are you still skimming through, desperate to get the barebones of what’s here without considering a pause for breath, a snatch of pleasure and the natural moment where your cheeks swell?
So often, that glimmer of human emotion is what we’re missing. To do lists and action plans, they keep us marching forward. Dry presentations, long articles, dense reports, it’s so easy to write with an attitude of getting everything down on paper, without worrying about the reader’s digestion.
A slip of the tongue.
Happenence is about that moment where honesty slips through. That binding of your audience to your character, so that they start, silently rooting for you. It’s about telling a story, of who you are, who we are, so that the listener believes they know us.
Because business is great. It funds us, drives change and builds futures. But each of us, each member sitting in your audience, thinks not like a business, but as an individual. They may contribute to a business, they may own a business, but they are not a business.
And by speaking to the individual, rather than the business, we ease up that digestion system.
How? Drawing diagrams, designing presentations…
Information overload. It’s now pretty much cliché. Lack of focus, raised stress levels, overwhelm.
As writers (and we’re all writers), we look for ways to make our message heard. Bullet points, so seductively simple, are depressingly easy to skim. CAPS LOCK is plain rude, and exclamation marks, especially three in a row, can strike the reader as being somewhat unprofessional.
What about the visual understanding given by a cartoon? Or the childish joy brought from a simple stick-figure?
Stretch out those fingers.
Childish joy? you can’t be serious. I’m a [insert job title here].
I was thirteen and the teacher had pulled me to the front of the class to complain about the state of my exercise book. It was a science laboratory of a large comprehensive school, and I sat somewhere near the back, so the walk to the front took some time.
The teacher told me that I needed to start working harder. I needed to start actually writing in my exercise book and treat it with some respect. She claimed my book was empty – it didn’t look empty to me. And that I would never pass science with that attitude.
How would you feel if your child brought home an exercise book covered in graffiti?
The grown ups then advised me to give up on my drawings of boa constrictors, whether from the inside or the outside, and devote myself instead to geography, history, arithmetic and grammar.
Antoine De Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
What’s so remarkable about that occasion, is that it’s the last time anyone criticised my doodling. I’ve worked in marketing, doodled in meetings, drawn out diagrams to explain concepts to my colleagues with cheerful little figures, I’ve doodled my way out of loneliness and heartbreak, I once did the most spectacular doodle of the entire exam hall on the back of one of my mock exam papers which the teacher would have been right to criticise if it wasn’t for the more than acceptable grade.
Once, I even made a tech guy smile with a doodled information security architecture diagram.
What you’ll discover on happenence.co.uk…
You’ve probably come across some tedious content in your career and education that you’ve just had to slog through. I certainly have. My affinity for doodles developed as a survival method (I have a degree in physics).
Now physics is a wonderful subject taught by some wonderful people. However… whilst perhaps great at research, these geniuses rarely make for wonderful teachers. You may disagree. Perhaps there are other subjects taught with less panache. Maybe story-telling and what makes a lesson memorable for the student is less important in some other mysterious subject. But I shall take some convincing.
So, I doodled my way through quantum mechanics. My stick figures danced through the universe, diving down black holes and accidentally colliding galaxies in their wake.
And my notes, always in high demand, made my fellow physicists smile.
And that’s what you’ll find on happenence.co.uk. A plethora of doodles waiting to educate and entertain.
Look for yourself?
Take up a pencil, and any scrap of paper (people get ratty when you leave drawings on desks). Draw a circle, a line down for a body, two sticks for legs, and another two for arms.
Doodles work because they’re simple. You can’t replace the detailed content you’ve got to convey entirely with doodles, but you can strengthen your message and make it more emotive and memorable.
Mouse, keyboard, pen and paper.
Get your tools ready, because as you explore this site, and witness for yourself some of the many ways you can bring a smile from a few lines. You’re going to have ideas of your own.
And yes, maybe at first, and especially if you’ve had a negative experience that made you join all your letters, dot your i’s, cross your t’s and keep your margins clean, you’re going to wonder if it’s possible that you, yes you, could benefit from a tiny person sketched where he’s not supposed to be.
But you’re not so paralysed as to not experiment.
Where do I go from here?
If you’re already convinced that doodles make great protagonists (and if you’ve read this far down the page it feels likely), then the next question to ask is when, where and how can you use them.
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Catherine Oughtibridge – Doodle Artist.