Choosing the right words

Welcome to a brilliant guest post by Gavin McMahon, @powerfulpoint. You can usually find Gavin over at

Avid sketchnoters and graphic recorders are often faced with a challenge: the person is speaking way faster than you can write or draw. This isn’t easy, and practice obviously helps, but there’s one other thing that may help – Wordhacking.
Wordhacking – making up words – happens at the fringes of the English language, and in popular culture, but it’s a little frowned upon. It can seem juvenile, not at all what we want in a proper business meeting. The Germans do it all the time, their weltanschauung is that making up words is perfectly okay.

Not only is it okay, the odd made up word can really help. Trying to take a difficult and wordy concept like the deluge of information and data we live in and the difficulty of consuming and making sense of it all? – try infobesity. For the data nerds out there that’s a compression ratio of 20:1.

Simple wordhacking is adding an ing or an ie to a noun. PowerPoint to PowerPointing, food to foodie.

For those wishing to try more advanced hacks, here’s a little chart. Enjoy!

Gavin McMahon is a New York-based consultant, sketchnoter, and occasional graphic recorder, who tweets @powerfulpoint. You can read his blog at