Posted by Ellen Coomber
‘New’ discovery in visual communications
When I was asked to speak at the world conference of the International Association of Business Communicators, held in San Francisco in June, on the subject of visual communications, I jumped at the chance. As the hour drew near, however, the prospect of presenting to a group of communications professionals became a little more daunting especially as, even in a break out session, the group could top 100!
I wanted to find a way to engage people in the session so I designed a series of exercises. One of which was to show people how easy it is to use the power of sketching, and you don’t need to be an artist to do it. The reason sketching as you talk is so effective in increasing understanding and engagement is that only 20% of people are auditory learners i.e. their preferred style of receiving information is aural. When we draw as we speak we engage with the 60% of people who are visual learners. If we encourage people to interact with our sketches and add things we may also better engage the 20% of kinesthetic learners who learn by doing.
This posed a challenge though. How do you show sketches in an environment with over 100 people? They won’t be able to see the flipchart. Now in the good old days of OHPs this would actually have been easy but try laying your hands on one today! I was still contemplating this in the airport waiting for the flight for San Francisco. Serendipitously, as it turned out, the flight was delayed which gave me time to browse the shops. Once I had relieved Clarins of its stock it was time to visit Dixons! The first thing I saw was a sign advertising PAPERSHOW – you draw on a pad and it appears on your screen. It’s rare that you are presented with a product that so exactly meets your requirements as you are thinking about them. Needless to say I whipped out the credit card and acquired this tool.
I then spent many hours playing with it. The more I got into it the more I liked it. Not only did it solve my immediate challenge it had lots of funky features. You can change the colour of the lines, it draws shapes, erases what you’ve drawn and even print your slides on the special paper so that you can annotate a slide accurately. It’s well worth checking it out for people who present a lot.
The talk was a huge success and for the next 3 days I was introduced as the one who “taught us to draw”. With over 130 people there it drew one of the biggest crowds of the conference, which goes to show that visual is on its way up!
If you would like to receive a big picture of the talk ‘The visual advantage - benefits, techniques and how to communicate anything in 10 minutes’ let me know and I’ll send you a copy.