Why Visuals Matter


Actually, it is 13 out of 20 people who are visual learners, but you can’t tell by looking at them. So, if about 65% of all people are visual learners, 30% are audible and only 5% are tactile, then I have a question.

Why is that more presenters do not use visuals to communicate complex information?


Why aren’t more business strategy sessions incorporating visual frameworks?

In 2006, Southeastern Louisiana University performed research around the various learning method types. University of Pennsylvania mirrored this study again in 2009. In both instances, the results were eye-opening. The data identified about 65% of those tested demonstrated learning methods to be that of a visual nature. Additional 30% responded as audible learners, while only about 5% demonstrated to be of a tactile nature.

The more impressive findings emerged when these learning methods were studied to determine retention. Those test subjects that were allowed to only use a tactile method of learning, there was only 10% retention in the material, 26% retention for those who heard the information and 30% who only saw the information. When both visual and audible methods were combined, retention of the information reached 50%. The greatest level of retention achieved was when all three methods were used. Retention of the test material reached 90%.

Imagine how well an audience would retain information if visuals were incorporated into the delivery of the content or better yet, the audience could create the visuals as the information was being shared.

Welcome to the power of graphic facilitation, visual recording and sketchnoting. This is why visuals are so important to clear communication and why visuals matter to the expression and retention of ideas.

To draw in your audience, you must draw out your ideas.


1000 Words is Worth a Picture

They say; “A picture is worth a thousand words.” a portrait for storytelling. This may be true, yet for those Sketchnoters, Graphic Recorders and visual note takers, it should be restated as “A thousand words is worth a picture.”

1000wordsEvery time a presenter or a group gather to share ideas in the presence of a graphic recorder, we scribes of the visual canvas, translate the spoken word into powerful images, pictures as you will, for all to see. Not just pretty sketches in a book or murals stretched out upon a wall, but ideas captured on canvas or in the digital cloud. Sound too poetic? Maybe.  Yet this is what we do each time we touch pen to paper. We create a picture from the words of others so they can experience the storytelling and validity that traditional cliché, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Express yourself, keep (th)INKing and sharing and maybe your pictures will be worth more than a thousand words, rather a thousand ideas.

Hope to see you at TED Conference Remote in Chicago and joining in on the experience of visual (th)INKing.

Visual Thinker’s Quotes

This post is no so much about an idea or information as it is about quotes for the visual thinker.

“Language comes in three forms; written, audible and visual. It requires all three to truly understand an idea.”

“It’s okay to think inside the box as long as it’s made of glass.”

“From cave walls to boardroom screens visual thinking has been used throughout the evolution of man. It’s genetic.”

“Traditional brainstorming is like making popcorn without the lid. Sure you get lots of ideas, but they go everywhere and leaves a mess to clean up. I prefer idea guiding, it’s the lid for brainstorming popcorn.”

“If the pen is truly mightier than the sword, then we visual thinkers bring an arsenal to battle.”

“We visual thinkers can imagine, draw and diagram the path to follow, but we choose to walk first and then have the drawn path follow.”

Kevin Dulle

Are You Happy?

I love when science blends with our lives and attempts to give definition or meaning to a particular event or thing. Science is there every moment of our life and more, yet can science help us understand the mysteries in life?

I have been fascinated with the human condition as it relates to business, creativity and logic. There is one area that perplexes me; happiness. What is happiness? When do we know when we are truly happy? How do you define this thing called happiness?

Enter science or better yet, human interview research. Sparked by an article by Chip Conley, I was intrigued by his recently released book “Emotional Equations”. Where-in he explores applying emotions to a series of equations to allow the reader a better understanding of how emotions manifest themselves and how to work or appreciate ways to control or enhance these emotions.

One particular emotion he focuses on is happiness. His equation,  HAPPINESS = WANTING WHAT YOU HAVE / HAVING WHAT YOU WANT was adapted from a historic quote from Rabbi Hyman Schachtel (1954) ‘‘happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have’’. This idea about what happiness generated a research project about happiness (see research) to determine if the Rabbi’s statement was true or could there be something more to happiness.

Please read the research and then watch a great video from TedX to understand more of how logic, mathematical equations and the human condition can help us understand and work with these things called emotions.

Visualizing Business Communications

How does one know if their communications is too cluttered or confusing and hindering business opportunities?

I was asked to view a website and share my thoughts about the effectiveness and overall design of the site. This drove my thinking to a very powerful thINKing Canvas visual analogy and then the creation of a physical activity I call “The Marble Jars” to explain what I was seeing and to help the inquirer see from a potential customers point of view.

I don’t wish to explain this visual in great detail as it is very clear already. Imagine every piece of information, subject or offering in your communications (especially websites) as a marble; colors and types for various topics. Place each marble into a glass jar. Step back and look. This is how a potential customer may interpret your communications. How easily can you find all of one color or type of marble?  Business communications should be designed as a call for action and not an encyclopedia of information.

Visual thinking and a thINKing Canvas are great tools in looking at business communications to get a clearer picture of its purpose and value. I helped one group, maybe I can help you visualize your communications.

Hunting in the herd

Everyone in business wants more customers. This is a basic fact of life. Too many times though, we spend much of the time searching and not selecting. Many small business owners and service providers choose to follow the “shoot gun” process of generating business. Broadcasting into populations in hopes of having someone hear your message. This process is time-consuming, unfocused and requires high levels of failure. Yes, advertising has its place and purpose, but it may not be the best use of your funds if you’re in a small business. Take example of the best direct mailing campaigns. Traditional  1.5 to 3 percentage of readers may, may, respond. How much did each new customer actually cost you and did they generate enough revenue to cover both your product/service and the advertising? Television advertising, radio spots, newspaper ads and even webpages are all shotgun approaches.

It’s time to refine your skills at customer/client acquisition.

First, study the animal world for a moment. Predators, either solo or pack hunters, are successful because of a basic fundamental rule, be strategic and only focus on that which you can catch. Skilled hunters don’t spend their time chasing between one target then another or running head long into the herd in hopes of tackling a meal. They find the best candidate with in the herd and begin the hunting process. Working all their energies on weeding out and driving their target out into the open to ensure success. Gruesome analogy? Maybe, but this method and the analogy are visual and work well.

Sure, business owners may not be predatory hunters, but the thinning or funneling process will decide the survivors from those who are destined to perish. A similar idea can be used for business in very much the same way only with less physicality and more psychology. Weeding out targets is more about understanding your customer than trying to be heard as a single voice in the noise of a crowd.

Before you begin, head out the door, order those flyers or even set up your website, ask yourself some basic questions about customers, your business and your capabilities so that you clearly know what you’re going to need and understand to survive and then eventually be successful.

1. What is your operating cost per week? (B)

2. How many client/customers can you truly handle in a week? (W)

3. How much does each client/customer need to provide in revenue dollars each week that you can handle? (R)

That was the easy part. It’s doing the basic math of business (R*W<B).

Now let’s tackle the filtering process. Imagine a herd of customers; many different types locations and even size. (For reference, I am using color dots in the diagram above to express this.) Not all these dots are people will be your clients or customers for many various reasons. What you want to do is thin the herd. You want to only speak or direct your communication to those who would be willing to respond. Use the language common to them about their need and your offering.

At this point is best to have a clear understanding of who your best customers are and why they acquire your product or services. Be critical with yourself. Fine tune the reason. It will help create conversation, elevator pitches and marketing materials. Know who you serve! There are various methods to create customer profiling, use what works for you and keep these profiles close. *See previous posting “Lessons from the mantelas an example.

Once you have identified your potential clients or customers, avoid being drawn back to the herd. Review your potentials and evaluate which of them is your best opportunity for doing business first. Prioritize your targets. For those who follow the shot-gun approach, this method will feel unorthodox, but as you learn to understand your customers and know where they are in the marketplace, the process will be easier to follow, especially after you have some success under your belt. Always record where, when, and even why your prospects respond. This will help refine your process even more.

Here is an interesting bit of observation, the process works the same way for the customer seeking a provider. So who’s the hunter now?

Have great success growing your business and we’ll talk soon.

Kevin Dulle

Lessons from the Mantel

I have fond memories of my grandmother and the simple house she lived in. She wasn’t well off financially, but rich in vision and imagination. As a child, she took me on many adventures to far off lands all while sitting on the back porch. She taught me much about vision, imagination and often about people all from that little house on the edge of anywhere. Some of those same lessons continuously echo in my mind as I work with others.

One in particular lesson was re-ignited with a phone call came from a good friend and fellow thinker. It appears that blogging has gotten into her blood and she was having some fun at doing it. After she had done it for a while she realized that maybe, the direction and intent of the blog needed a bit of focus, purpose to ensure that her readers gain value from her words. So comes the email message. A simple request for assistance.

I am not going to go through the whole phone conversation for the simple sake of brevity, but I will highlight the core of message that was shared. I presented an analogy of life, as in business, that was passed to me so many years ago. I asked her to imagine a mantel with photographs perched together. Each image is of someone different. These pictures on the mantel would be the images of her on-line family of readers.

Yes, I said on-line family of readers. The reason for this type of visualization is so we  have a clear picture to whom we speak, serve or communicate. The photographs are not of anyone particular, rather a collaboration of a type of person she would write to. I also told her she should have five of these family photos that she would imagine being her readers. Of these five, three of them are her best customers, advocates or followers.

Each reader has unique characteristics, attributes and needs. Define them with clear personalities. As an example, Uncle George could be a well read man, who seeks advice, but doesn’t respond. Let’s call him the “Watcher”. This watcher type persona enjoys your reading the things you say and applies them as much as he can. The other four persona’s have their reasons for reading. Some are seeking answers to needs, answers that you provide. It is important to understand what you offer and who your customers will be that will find value in your offering.

I ended our chat by adding one last note. When you write or you are doing business with your new family, write each blog entry as if talking to only one of them at a time. I believe that each post should speak to one person at a time and to a different person for different reasons. Share the wealth, but avoid mixing the conversation. If we treat our customers as if they are family, we tend to be more authentic in our approach because we understand who they are and why they seek us out.

So remember, create unique person types of your five best types of customers, have a strong vision of what they may look like and then place your customers up on the mantel so you will see them everyday to remind you of who you serve. Once you do this, avoid wandering to greener fields because you may just lose touch or alienate with the ones you have.

Thanks grandma, for all the worlds of wonder and words of wisdom from that old wooden porch out back.

Keep thinking visually so you can see your success.


Rethink POV

Have you ever had an idea that a product or service could be improved, but no one seemed to get it? Maybe the reason is you had trouble seeing it from a different POV (point of view) or you were possibly speaking to the wrong audience. When the concept did not click, you became hesitant to invest any more time or resources into the idea. Eventually it went to the back burner only to fade from memory, but not quite…

Somewhere deep in your mind it still rolls around bumping into other thoughts. Like a haunting jingle from a television show, it just won’t fade. The reason is that it still maybe a great idea, but needs a new approach or it needs to be resolved completely.


Two, what seemed to be, unrelated events were drawn together in a moment of distraction. The first was the discovery of an unusual lawn decoration of a goofy bird in early spring. The second was a quote that was sent to me by a friend a few weeks ago. Spanned by months, these two items would refresh the use of classic practice.

This unusual character bend backwards and under was seeing the same thing it saw before, but only from a different point of view. Combined with Mary Engelbreit’s quote, I am reminded that even what may seem to be a bad idea from one view-point, may in fact, be a great idea when we change our POV or discover that change is not even needed at all.

So here’s my thinking tip: take an old idea and view it from three different perspectives. If it’s a new or enhanced product, look at it from three different types of customers. If you are changing a product or service, look from three different managers eyes. And finally, before you act, look at it from three different processes to decide if it really needs to be change at all.

Don’t be afraid to change your POV, but always keep an open mind, you may just be surprised of the answers you see. Not all change is needed, sometimes the original deal is still the best.

Until next time, keep thINKing Visual.