Visual Thinking for Distributed Teams

tips & tricks Feb 23, 2021

Check out our video of this blog on YouTube! https://youtu.be/IYyQVNe00SY

Missing Whiteboards?
Not all of us are amazing artists, but in the past  have you stood up in a traditional meeting, grabbed the marker pen and started on the whiteboard to draw up your thoughts? I'm sure most of us have and I suspect a good few of us have really missed that over months of endless Teams and Zoom meetings. The reason is that visual metaphors create deeper understanding. Over 60% of all people relate better to a mix of visual and written content. Images are just intrinsically better understood than words alone allowing visual metaphors create engagement and reduce misunderstanding.

How about Digital Whiteboards?
Now you can use digital whiteboards, either within Teams, Google Jamboards or something a bit more fancy in Miro or Mural etc. However, there is a simpler solution that we often forget or overlook. Ask yourself do you really need that fancy power point deck - or do you think people will remember a hand drawn picture shown to the screen more?! More than that, is this not easier both to create and to share during a meeting? Sometimes the simpler approach really can be better as physically drawing adds that different dimension and engages the brain in a more tactile way.

Get Everyone to Draw & Share
You can also use this by encouraging your attendees to try it as well. This works particularly well when combined with an icebreaker. For example ask people to draw their perfect work environment. You can immediately tell so much about a person, just by looking, but also ask them to explain why they have drawn. It could be a bright sky, amazing country side view, a glass of wine and the laptop connecting to others. Just from that you probably have a better understanding on who that person is and what makes them tick. This doesn’t need to be heavy and in fact should be light and fun as it really helps build connections between people that probably wouldn’t normally occur.

Make it simple, don’t ask for a masterpiece. Stick figures and simple shapes are enough Another tip though, remind people to bring pen and paper or post it notes before the event so they arent scrambling about in the meeting itself. 

So in Summary :

  • Mix it up and use physical drawings as alternatives to formal slides
  • Encourage others to draw and share

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