Too graphic?

That age old trope “I can’t draw” is often nonsense. Most people are fortunate enough to be able to mark make in some way – what we usually mean by that statement is that we can’t draw like a pro, or what we produce isn’t what we had hoped in our minds eye.

I am not a professional artist, have never put myself forward as someone with oodles of creativity or, indeed, interest in the finer studies of art, craft and technique; my daughter got that gene in our family. What I do appreciate though is visual representation, an attempt to use more than words to display ideas or key points, whether that be literal or metaphorical.

In a meeting or classroom context this can include graphic recording or sketchnoting. Turning notes into visual displays that are far more engaging than a set of minutes or actions. Creating artistic frames of top tips. Using icons and simple drawings to frame a workshop agenda. Even the doodling we all do has meaning and purpose. Simple icons and images help us to make connections and remember far more effectively.

We have always used visual displays to represent ideas in both work and academia – theoretical models as pyramids, cycles etc (see here for a mind-blowing array of ideas). Words may remain king for explaining detail and nuance, but for emphasis and engagement I believe that imagery can be invaluable. Think about those presentations you have sat through – were the PowerPoint slides best when a mass of words or when they were a simple image or diagram? Perhaps we need to start with an intention, what is it you are trying to convey and in what context.

Images can often convey more than words, and are open to personal interpretation. In my workshops and coaching I often turn to a set of cards which have images on one side and words on the other; when I invite delegates or coachees to use the image side to express themselves I experience a broader and deeper response that gets to the heart of an issue. Don’t get me wrong, I love words, the rhythm of a narrative, the delight of unexpected vocabulary, the allure of alliteration. However sometimes, an image really does say a thousand words.

Juliet Flynn, Organisational and People Development Advisor

PS I would highly recommend this FREE online course to get you started!

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