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Why You Should Communicate Visually with SmartDraw VP


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This presentation explains why visual communication is superior to written and spoken communication, especially in the business place. It provides examples of how visuals can be used to communciate …

This presentation explains why visual communication is superior to written and spoken communication, especially in the business place. It provides examples of how visuals can be used to communciate each of the famous "6 Ws" in the English language (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.)

Learn more about communicating visually at The SmartDraw Blog:

Published in: Business, Technology

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  • This is a presentation about communicating visually and how it can make you and everybody else a more effective worker, manager, and communicator in the workplace.
  • So why do all of us work in the same building? Why do we meet face-to-face with our business clients and customers? Why do we hold face-to-face meetings with our co-workers?
  • It’s because we need to communicate. We need to communicate the classic “6 Ws” you were taught in school when you were learning to write. Who? What? When? Where? Why? And How? Ultimately, all communication comes down to communicating one or many of these things.
  • So let’s jump back in to the business world for a moment – what often goes wrong in business? Why do things get screwed up? Well, it’s because of people! PeopleGet out of syncForget thingsMisinterpret or misunderstand thingsOr they lose sight of what’s really importantBut why do these things happen? Surely everybody isn’t malicious or something, right?
  • It’s because of poor communication. How many times have you heard one of these phrases? My guess is you’ve heard them numerous times. That’s only natural – here’s why.
  • So we did an internal poll of our customers and found that roughly 65% of our customers’ communication was done verbally, 33% was done in writing, and 2% was done visually. My guess is that if you conducted a scientific poll that the numbers would show a similar trend, with speech dominating the majority of our communication, writing taking a second place, and visual communication being an insignificant portion of the average person’s daily communication. Remember, our customers are mostly knowledge workers where email and other forms of asynchronous communication are much more prevalent.
  • Now what do people actually remember? According to a study by Dr. Jerome Bruner from NYU (, people remember roughly 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they read, and 80% of what they see and do. Visuals are a much more effective way of communicating information if you actually want somebody to remember it. What are you more likely to remember? A table of your company’s financial figures or those same figures depicted as a graph which shows your company’s finances falling through the floor? My guess is the latter.Ever hear the expression “a picture is worth a thousand words?” Sure you have. Well that phrase exists for a reason, it’s because most people are visual learners. We need to see or do something in order to fully understand yet. Yet despite that, we most often use the communication mediums which are least effective. No wonder why we have so much trouble communicating in the workplace.
  • Let’s take a look at a side-by-side comparison of visual communication versus written communication.This is a standard fire escape plan – as you can see it’s a basically a floorplan. All public buildings are required by law to have printed emergency escape plans in this fashion. Whenever someone looks at this map they can instantly understand where they are, where they need to go in case of emergency, and where to find life-saving emergency equipment in a moment’s notice. They don’t need to stop and ask for directions, everything is right there in front of them in an obvious, impossible to misunderstand format. Now what would this look like in writing?
  • Now contrast this with the floor plan we previously had.Unfortunately, a written version of the fire escape plan is something that I could not fit on this slide, unfortunately. A picture truly is worth a thousand words, and then some. What would you rather have in the case of an emergency: an amorphous blob of text that takes minutes to read or a floor plan which gives you everything you need to know the instant you look at it? I think we’d all prefer the latter.In general most people find it easier to understand pictures and visuals; they can absorb the totality of an idea more quickly and they’re more likely to remember the key elements. Shouldn’t we consider using this form of communication to strengthen the operations around our own offices?
  • So what all can be communicated visually? Why, all “Six Ws” can!
  • How many times have you asked somebody, or somebody has asked you, “hey, do you know who is responsible for X?” Usually you refer them to an organization chart, like this one. An org chart is one of those under-appreciated token visuals that is found in virtually every modern business, but it’s really much more than that. Let’s say you’re Charles Wood, highlighted in purple, the V.P. of Sales, for our example company, and your new sales rep, Mary Mai, who I have highlighted in white asks you whom she needs to contact within the company in order to share some customer feedback on the product from a large account she’s recently taken over. Well, you could simply refer her to this org chart and have her review the responsibilities of the people displayed on it and she would discover that its’ Sharon Costas or one of her reports whom she needs to communicate this information to.
  • How many times have you tried to get a webmaster for your company’s website to make some small change to the look and feel of a page only to get something totally wrong in return? It happens constantly. Well instead of saying “dear webmaster, could you please make the font above the header-thingy a little bit bigger,” you can actually get specific using a web page annotation and visually communicate what needs to happen – in this case the sub-header I’m pointing to needs to have a larger font. This is much clearer than attempting to recreate the webpage orally or in writing and then to express your design recommendations to the webmaster through based upon one of those alternatives.
  • I think you’re starting to get the picture now, no pun intended. When you need to know when something is done, you can use a visual like a project chart or a timeline to depict it.
  • When answering a “where” question, you can use a map, or perhaps something more abstract like an org chart when talking about where to deploy funding.
  • So if you were going to shift all of your marketing dollars away from two products back into your core product and somebody in another department asked you “why are you doing this?,” you could simply show them these two juxtapositioned pie charts, which tell a story of two products with low revenues and inflated marketing costs and a third core product which does most of the business. You could use data like this to clearly communicate your motives or reasoning to others.
  • Flowcharts – don’t we love em! This is the classic “how” visual, and most companies make use of them extensively.
  • So if communication with visuals is so much more effective than speaking or writing, why do so few people actually do it? It’s because most people think it’s too hard to do. They think of paper and pen, or drawing on a whiteboard – which isn’t exactly professional or easy to do. And really, the big reason why most people don’t communicate visually is because they aren’t aware of adequate tools to do it. And for many years this was true – there were no good drawing solutions for people who aren’t artists.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Communicating Visually
      Visit for a free trial of SmartDraw
    • 2. Why Do We.... ?
      Why do we work in the same building?
      Why do we meet clients?
      Why do we hold regular meetings with our co-workers?
    • 3. Because We Need to Communicate
    • 4. What Goes Wrong in Business?
      People frequently:
      Get out of sync
      Forget things
      Misinterpret or misunderstand
      Lose sight of what's important
      But why?
    • 5. Poor Communication
      "Wait, who's responsible for this?"
      "Oh, that was important?"
      "You didn't tell me I needed to do that"
      "But I thought you said..."
    • 6. Why Is Communication So Difficult?
      How We Communicate
      Speaking (65%)
      Visuals (2%)
      Writing (33%)
    • 7. What Do People Remember?
      Human Information Retention Rate
    • 8. Visual Communication
    • 9. Written Communication
    • 10. What Can Be Communicated Visually?
    • 11. "Who's responsible for this?"
    • 12. "What are we supposed to do?
    • 13. "When is this due?"
    • 14. "Where are we directing our efforts?"
    • 15. "Why are we doing this?"
    • 16. "How do we do this?"
    • 17. Benefits of Communicating Visually
      Fewer mistakes
      Fewer delays
      Less frustration
      Less cost
    • 18. Why Don't People Communicate Visually?
      People think it's hard too do
      Most think of "paper and pen"
      Unaware of adequate tools
    • 19. Communicating Visually Isn’t Difficult
      Communicating visually isn’t difficult if you have a tool that makes it easy.
      And that’s what SmartDraw is all about.
      Want to learn more about SmartDraw?
      You can also download a free trial of SmartDraw if you’d like to use the templates you’ve seen in this presentation!