How I make my sketch videos

Every time I publish a new sketch video, at least one person asks, “what tools do you use to do that?”

I’m happy to answer that question, but if the technology or tools is what fascinate you, then I’m doing something very, very wrong. Because what I’m trying to do is convey a message, not impress with technique.

Tools are important, for sure, but there’s a tendency to think that tools are going to make their presentation AWESOME, and that’s just not so.

My advice, if you really want my advice, is to focus on the content first and then pick up the tool that’s most appropriate for the message, and most authentic for you. What is the story you are going to tell? For whom? Why should they care?

For me, being authentic means drawing when I talk, because that’s what I usually do when I want to share an idea, whether it’s in a coffee shop or in a meeting room, on a whiteboard. It’s how I communicate, all the time. If you don’t normally communicate in this way, then creating a sketch video will not be authentic for you.

Making a good sketch video, or presentation, or writing a good book, for that matter, is ALL about the content. Everybody thinks they have something interesting to say, but the ones who put serious time and effort into saying it well, and thoughtfully, are the ones people listen to. Rule one is BE INTERESTING.

BE INTERESTING, BE INTERESTING, BE INTERESTING!

Focus 80 percent of your energy on being interesting and 20 percent on the technology and tools.

Rule two is to be true to yourself. Speak in a way that’s authentic for you. Copying others’ techniques can be a helpful way to get started, but it’s only a beginning. Notice how you are communicating when other people get engaged and excited. Copying others is not how I came up with my approach, and if you want to be unique and stand out, find something that’s unique and authentic, for you.

If you want to draw and talk, that could be as simple as having someone hold your iPhone while you sketch on a whiteboard. Or, you know, write on cards and then flip through them on camera.

No matter how great your tools are, they won’t make your message interesting, and if your message isn’t interesting, the tools don’t matter so much. Have you seen the first three Star Wars movies?

Now if, after that rant, you still want to know about the tools, here’s a video where I explained to Troy Stein of Techsmith exactly how I make my sketch videos.

That was an excerpt. If you’re interested you can take a look at the entire podcast.

Want to buy the tools? Here they are:

The Wacom Cintiq is the big screen I draw on. You can connect it to a Mac or PC. There’s also a cheaper, more portable version. Lately I have been playing with the Microsoft Surface Book, which is also excellent.

Autodesk Sketchbook Pro is the app I prefer.

Techsmith Camtasia is the screen-recording software I use.

Now that’s 20 percent of it. The next thing is to get out there and BE INTERESTING!!!

Thanks for listening. I feel understood. Now if you’ve got a rant, I’m ready to listen to you. Leave a comment!

Learn more about Visual Thinking.

Dave Gray is the founder of XPLANE, the Visual Thinking company.

Like what you read? Give Dave Gray a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.