A picture is not worth a thousand words. It’s worth negative a thousand words. Wait…huh?
When it comes to conveying concepts, written words have negative value, so when you reduce them you come out ahead. If a picture were worth one thousand words, no one would want it.
Every extra word you use gets you closer to “TL;DR” status with your customer (i.e. the recipient of your output). Our collective patience for reading documents of length is wearing increasingly thin, but our collective ability to absorb information graphically is improving exponentially. Disrupters take advantage of this trend.
A simple rule of thumb is to break your deliverable down into concepts, then draw one picture for each. Use verbiage sparingly, e.g. for captions, lead-ins and brief summaries. Put them in order of the same flow you would have written paragraphs and congratulations: you have crafted an output that your customer will fully consume and value immensely.
The impact of this change is revolutionary. Consultants now have more adoptable recommendations because both they and their audiences have better understanding of them. Salespeople can reduce their 30 slide, bullet-ridden PowerPoint down to 4 meaningful graphics and win more deals. Anyone tasked with making meaning of datasets can now do so confidently and more effectively to their executives.
No special talent is required here. We are talking about boxes and arrows, clip art, tables and diagrams – all available in the MS Office product of your choosing. What you bring to the drawings are ideas and logic.
For insight into making great drawings, check out Dan Roam.
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