The Case for Speaking the Universal Language

More of your brain is dedicated to processing vision than to any other thing you do. With that much brain power behind them, visuals are a highly effective way of communicating. In fact, considering visuals are the universal language, they are one of the most effective way of communicating.

Visual communicator and international bestselling author of seven books, Dan Roam, came to Minneapolis last month to teach the Studio/E community about the power of drawing for effective communication. Through the use of doodles, statistics, anecdotes and humor, Dan showed us just how powerful visuals really are. Here is some of what we learned:

Drawing isn’t about art; it’s about thinking.

Many of us put the limiting belief upon ourselves that we are not artists (that is, after we graduate from second grade. Before then we are all Picassos!) But the truth is, everyone can draw. If you can draw a circle or an arrow, you are equipped with all the skill you need to communicate visually. Here’s a place to start: Next time you’re thinking about anything (what to have for dinner, your next trip, or a business idea) take a sheet of paper, draw a circle and label it “me.” From there, draw a thought bubble and write down a couple of your thoughts. That’s the beginning of an effective drawing.

Co-drawing is a great enrollment tool.

We stand by the notion that great things come from two or more people, which is the reason we made Enrollment one of our core competencies. As it turns out, drawing is a good Enrollment tool. By drawing an image with someone, like Dan Roam and Simon Sinek do in this video, you are effectively turning “my idea” into “our idea.” You can do this by painting part of a picture and handing it off to someone else (you don’t literally have to draw together like in the video). When you bring other people into your ideas, you move them forward. Co-drawing is one way of doing this.

You can explain anything with six pictures.

A portrait, chart, map, timeline, flowchart or equation can communicate just about any idea — even one you are stuck on. In Dan’s experience, the best way to solve a problem is to draw a picture of what the situation looks like now. Then draw a picture of what you’d like it to be. When you compare them, it becomes a straightforward matter to see what you need to change to get from point A to point B.

The future is visual.

The degree to which people process information visually is greater today than ever before. Take Instagram, for example — the social media platform which has 1 billion monthly users. Each message posted is immediately translated into every language in the world by virtue of being a photo instead of words. Social media platforms like this have lent a hand in globalization, connecting people from all corners of the world, regardless of their language. The same can be said for Emojis, which mean the same thing in New York as they do in Tokyo as they do in Istanbul.

The message is clear: if you want to be a better communicator, it’s time to begin communicating visually. Dan’s collection of books is a great resource if you’ve lost your second-grade-drawing confidence.

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Are you interested in more events like the Hero Speaker Series Featuring Dan Roam? If so, we encourage you to consider becoming a Studio/E member.

Here are images from the event with Dan Roam:

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