Shut Up And Draw!

A corporate training session with a twist. Develop your team’s creativity and innovation skills through visual problem solving challenges performed in complete silence, conducted by a deaf facilitator. The results are invariably hilarious, challenging and liberating.

Silent group drawing sessions, in which all communication takes place visually, provide a remarkable environment for rapid learning. At this point, people often say “but I can’t draw!” The good news is that everyone can draw, even people who think that they can’t.

How? Well let’s start by defining what we mean by drawing: visual communication using a pen and paper. And drawing in this sense divides into two broad categories:

  • observational drawing
  • conceptual drawing

Observational drawing is what we usually think of, and it’s what people mean when they say they can’t draw. Most of us did it in art class at school, where we had to look at something: maybe a person or a still life of a pile of fruit, and then faithfully render an image of what we see onto paper. The more accurate the image, the better. This kind of drawing can be tricky!

The art of scamping: drawn in seconds, sold for millions

But there is another kind of drawing, where we put pen to paper to express an idea that is in our heads, rather than to copy something in front of us. Precise accuracy is not as important as clarity of ideas and communication with this kind of drawing. You don’t need to be Leonardo Da Vinci to draw in this way. As long as you can draw a stickman, boxes and arrows, you’re all set. In advertising, this kind of drawing is called “scamping,” and the drawings themselves are called “scamps”. They’re essentially just scribbles on paper, and yet some of these scribbles have been sold by ad agencies for millions. Why? Because the value in a scamp is not in the craftsmanship of how it has been drawn, but in the visual or conceptual idea that it communicates.

And that’s why I want you to draw (or “scamp”) on my training course. Scamping provides a new, and for most, unfamiliar way of communicating ideas. By forcing our brains to communicate in unfamiliar ways, we prime them to start thinking differently. And after all, that’s what creativity and innovation is all about.

Silence is golden

For some of us, myself included, keeping silent for any length of time is much, much harder than putting pen to paper! So an entire training course in silence may at first seem a little strange. But that’s what makes it so great. Once again, an unfamiliar environment is highly conducive to stimulating new ways of thinking.

We tend to have a preference for auditory dialog when communicating with others. By eliminating this line of communication, we’re forced to explore other ways of getting our ideas across. In this space, visual communication comes to life, and new ideas start flowing.

Who is it for?

Anyone can drawn, and anyone can benefit from developing their drawing skills, no matter what their profession may be. For example, I know a computer programmer whose talent for drawing has proved indispensable in communicating complex technology in clear, comprehensible ways. His system diagrams are legend, and are frequently used by other people in his team when making presentations.


  • Discover new ways of reliably and consistently accessing your creativity and applying it in a business context.
  • Develop your ability to communicate and express yourself visually.
  • Experience ways of bringing out your own personal visual and spacial metaphors to express yourself clearly and influentially.
  • Raise your awareness of the role that auditory dialog performs in your business communications and make more choices available in how you wish to communicate.
“I don’t think I’ve seen an hour session delivered in a way that has had quite so many ideas ‘popping.”

“Blown away by this silent session.”

“The way Graham held the room was amazing.”

“It was like creative meditation!”

“Brilliant for getting the creative juices flowing and realising discussion only gets in the way of allowing our minds to create.”

“Deeply powerful, the energy and creativity he brought out of us all was incredible.” Feedback from participants

Session duration: 60 minutes – half day.
Group size: Minimum 6. Ideal size is around 20.
Structure: Interactive workshop exercises in complete silence.
Support: Share drawing output via online galleries.


Come up with as many different ideas as possible of things to do with a brick. Everyone receives a pad with a line drawing on each sheet of a brick (or rather, an stretched cube outline), to draw on. The more varied and “out of the box” the ideas, the better!


Everyone secretly selects someone else in the room, designs a shoe for them and draws it on a Post-it note. All the shoes are then attached to a board, and each delegate selects the shoe they think fits them best and “wears” it.

Stickman Disco

Working in pairs, one person must communicate a dance move to the other through drawing alone. Then everyone gets up and performs their moves in a silent disco. This experiential session integrates kinaesthetic to visual and visual to kinaesthetic problem solving.

Stickman Feedback

These drawings were produced by delegates when I asked them to give feedback on their experience of each other using only stickmen. The elemental line drawings with minimal detail convey a remarkable sense of a person and their state.


I work with Ignite Training to deliver all of my workshops. To find out more, visit the Creative Excellence page on the Ignite website.