Visual Thinker - head opt2


TedX talk - Story from a train journey - opt
I’m sorry you haven’t heard from me in a while. I lost my voice. Over the last few months there’s been too much breathing in. And not enough breathing out. But here I am, and I have stories to tell.

As you probably know, my primary mode of communication is visual, so when I got the opportunity to give a TedX talk in Galway, I stepped into it - and immediately wondered how I could make it visual.

Ted frowns on slides - two or three key images at most is the guidance. So leaning on my usual barrel-load of hand-drawn illustrations wasn’t going to cut it. I thought about taking a live-drawing approach (which I’ve done during a keynote before!) but decided that it was hard enough to deliver a 12-minute no-notes speech in front of an audience, never mind holding a pen still. Doing two things at the same time has never been my strong suit.


Quite by chance, I discovered that the drawing software I use on the iPad (called Procreate) automatically records a still frame after every stroke, which can then be exported as a stop-frame animation. And then I saw it - the visual story could unfold while the verbal story is told. But would it be meaningful for the audience? And so the experiment begins - everything I do is an experiment of some shape or form - with the primary guinea pigs, my wife and kids.

Here’s the video of the talk, given to an audience in a Galway Theatre just a few weeks ago. It seems quite different from how it was live - with the audience seeing and hearing in parallel. But you’ll get the picture... “People tell stories; Stories paint pictures.”
Bryan Mathers speaking at TedXGalway - opt
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed giving this talk. Even though it was quite far outside my comfort zone. I learnt so much about the things that bring me alive. But as the event was delayed by a year, I also had way too much time to overthink it.

And like any adventure, there’s so many more stories to tell. How I experimented with a visual doodle landscape of my talk, in order to memorise it and “see” the stories dovetail together. How the key story was “given” to me just a couple of weeks before the talk. How I reverse-engineered some drawings, and left others as they were created, mistakes and all. How I found a thread through all of it, that I’m still following.
The creative adventure of finding my voice, stitching the stories together, was matched by the physical adventure of returning to the west coast of Ireland - with its breath-taking wilderness - my motherland. I took the opportunity to travel right around Galway Bay from Dog’s Bay in Connemara to the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare. So many places to explore - and with the weather coming in off the Atlantic, the light changes by the minute to give the soul a feeling of shape-shifting sorcery.


It's getting harder to step into new adventures. But when I do, I'm very grateful that I have stepped into the unknown, gone on an adventure and learnt new things. And so I'm writing a note to self - one that I've written before and forgotten: life lies outside your comfort zone...

bryan in the canon

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And finally, an Irish Joke...

(which you'll get if you've ever tried to use a weather app whilst in the west of Ireland)
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