Book synthesis

Visual thinking: using pictures to get your ideas across

One result of the “infobesity” that characterizes today’s business environment is that it is more and more difficult—yet critical—to get people’s attention. According to Dan Roam, the solution to this communication challenge is to illustrate words with pictures! Even if you hate to draw, visual thinking can enable you to communicate more efficiently and convincingly. Consider the following fundamentals of this method.



75% of the brain’s neuroreceptors are devoted to processing visual information. That’s 60 times more than are devoted to hearing.



1. Show the big picture. Words alone are not enough to do the job. Conveying an idea clearly and coherently is easier with a combination of verbal and visual information. The former enables you to explain details, and the latter makes a message understandable with just a glance.

2. Use visual grammar.
These rules are comparable to those that apply to verbal language. You do not have to be a gifted artist. A few simple marks are fine as long as they engage the verbal cortex. The point is efficiency, even when an idea does not seem to lend itself to pictures. In addition, forcing yourself to communicate your idea in a new way is a means to deepen comprehension and thus reach your audience more forcefully.

3. Reach your teams through pictures. Ideas are like clouds; people only remember those with a specific shape. Visual communication should be clear, concise, and comprehensive. Abiding by these criteria means maximizing the impact of your message and thus its potential to foster engagement.

Leader testimony
When it comes to presenting ideas and engaging teams, TBS Networks’ Jennifer Dorian and Amy Zehfuss are great believers in visual communication. They have been using this method for several years not only to enhance their individual brainstorming and cognitive processes but also to booster teamwork and collaboration.

Read our dossier
Visual thinking: To share ideas more effectively, communicate with images

Business Digest no. March 2012.
A synthesis of several publications, accompanied by an interview with Jennifer DORIAN, senior vice president of strategy and brand development for TEN, and Amy ZEHFUSS, vice president network strategy for TEN, March 2012.

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She spent 12 years in industry, working for Bolloré Technologies, among others. She co-founded Business Digest in 1992 and has been running the company since 1998. And she took the Internet plunge in 1996, even before coming on board as part of the BD team.