Excited! New Presentation-Writing Workflow!

After some experimentation, I have workout a fantastic workflow for my writing and presentations.

As many of you know, the science is clear that we are more creative, learn better, and retain more when we hand write notes, ideas, etc. This is certainly true for me. But, my struggle until recently is that being committed to a paperless workflow, I found it difficult until the new iPad Pro and Pencil 2. But even with the new hardware, I still had to figure out the best way to implement handwriting and my applications effectively into a coherent workflow. I believe I have found it.

I’m sharing this with the forum with the hope that it may benefit others or be a catalyst for other good ideas. Here is what I’ve done and how I use this workflow.

  • Notwithstanding my New Year’s resolution to not change apps., I have. After experimentation and watching too many reviews, I’ve moved from Apple Notes to Notability. One of the BIG features is split view WITHIN the app allowing me to have two Notability notes open at the same time.
  • I adopted a storyboarding approach combined with mind-mapping — all within Notability. Using Pages, I created a multipage storyboard in landscape orientation and exported it as a PDF—see picture below.
  • I imported the PDF into Notability, saved it as a duplicate template, and then added a blank sheet for mind-mapping at the top (I’ll add this to the PDF to save a step in the future).
  • I do all of my initial mind-mapping, outlining, jotting down talking points, and sketching ideas for slides in Notability using the template and the Apple Pencil. This way I am using one app for three functions: mind-mapping, outlining talking points, and sketching out Keynote slide ideas.
  • I then convert the handwriting to text using Notability. It is not perfect but goes a long way. I copy and edit the text in Ulysses for my speaking notes. I do the same for writing projects but obviously don’t sketch out slides.
  • I then produce (or have my communications department produce) the slides.
  • I finalize the written text in Ulysses and export to Pages, which I like to use for my speaking notes.

This is working well for me. It combines the benefits of handwriting with my digital paperless workflow. This is both effective and efficient. It is also enjoyable.

Finally, after reading rave reviews,I have ordered the PaperLike screen protector for my iPad. It is designed to make the screen feel more like paper when using the Apple Pencil. It arrives on Monday. I’ll let you know what I think after using it for a week or so.


Very nice method and explanation @Bmosbacker. Thank you!

A variation I would try for myself would be using ZoomNotes rather than Notability. It is easy to template documents in ZoomNotes, as you have done in Notability. With ZoomNote’s layers feature the draft presentation could be on one layer and the notes about the presentation on another.


Do you find yourself doing a lot of erasing with the Pencil as you prototype the presentation? Interesting workflow.

Not much. I do find myself selecting text with the lasso and moving it but writing with a pencil stimulates the flow of ideas and creative process better than typing. There is science behind this. While it is more “efficient” to type everything (easier to move text and less editing required compared to editing converted handwritten text) but I find mind-mapping ideas, writing out my talking points and sketching a draft of the slides works great for creating presentations and drafting articles.

I installed ZoomNotes and am LOVING it. Was using GoodNotes 5. I don’t think it converts handwriting though. Cool workflow

ooh! Sounds shiny. I think I need one. This (and the gen 1 pencil always being run down) has been one of the barriers of my using the iPad for pencil-based tasks. I need a little tooth when I’m writing.
I’ve considered the eInk “reMarkable” device for these reasons, but it’s too expensive ($600) and (last I researched) people aren’t thrilled with it.

PaperLike on Amazon

The PaperLike looks interesting. Does anyone here have experience with it – especially with taking it off. I’m leery of screen protectors that go on and don’t come off.

What’s your process for doing this? Can you keep formatting styles (heading levels, quotes, etc.) in Pages? And why are you doing it, is it to use the Presenter (teleprompter) mode in Pages on iOS, or do you print your notes?

I export the markup Ulysses sheet as rich text directly into Pages. I use Pages because I like to make final annotations directly in Pages on my iPad before getting up to speak. I inevitably make last minute changes. The Smart Annotation feature works great–the annotations move with the text. I use my iPad for all of my speaking notes so using Pages is seamless and simple.

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Just wanted to shout-out this marvelous, LOL moment.