Not All Visuals Are Created Equal

While attempting to express our thoughts and ideas in a visual way, it’s important to consider that not all visuals are created equal. What I mean by this is that there are certain visuals (techniques) that will best represent specific types of information, and then there are other visuals that are most appropriate for visualizing other types of information. Getting these visuals mixed-up or using them inappropriately can often complicate your message to such an extent that your visuals end up hindering the communication process.

When a Chart is Not Enough

Several years ago I came across a very interesting article written by Dave Gray, who is the founder of Dachis Group (formerly known as XPlane). Dave wrote a short article titled: When a Chart is Not Enough.

Within this article Dave mentions that visuals are great to use if you want to communicate large volumes of information in a simple and effective way. Charts and graphs are especially useful for presenting statistics and making comparisons. They help make the information more engaging and appealing to the senses. However, Dave mentions that when describing something new and different, that charts and graphs are often not enough to get your message across.

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Visual Metaphor: Bridging the Gap

Now that you are familiar with visual thinking metaphors and analogies, today, I would like to provide you with a practical example of a visual thinking metaphor that is often used for life coaching purposes to help clients clarify their goals and objectives. In fact, it is one of the many visual thinking metaphors we will be discussing in the coming months.

Building a Visual Bridge

This visual thinking metaphor explores a number of key critical areas that are fundamental to the process of goal setting. It explores the following areas:

First of all, familiarize yourself with the blank template below and then read the brief explanation about how you can use this tool for your own purposes. Keep in mind that a visual metaphor such as this is most ideally used when sketched out on a large whiteboard — allowing you plenty of open space to work with.

Click here to download a pdf sample of this visual thinking metaphor.

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Case Study: Visualizing Your Options

Today I would like to provide you with a quick case study of how visual thinking was applied to a tough decision that one of my life coaching clients was trying to work through. Her name is Emma (not her real name), and we are going to look at how to go about visualizing your options.

Emma’s Current Reality

Emma worked at the head-office of a large food distributor earning a good living. However, Emma was at a point in her career where she felt as though things were stagnating. She wasn’t growing, didn’t feel challenged and the passion she once had for her work was no longer there. However, the job she had provided her with great financial security and stability, so-much-so that pretty much every physical possession she had in her life came as a direct result from sticking with this career path for over 15 years. In short, she was comfortable, but not very fulfilled.

Emma’s Desired Reality

She often spoke with me about her childhood dreams of owning her own restaurant and breaking free from the corporate world. She absolutely loved the idea of owning a restaurant and spent many weekends studying and researching the business. However, she never took the plunge because she understood the risks and the commitment required to make this move.

One day an opportunity came up. She started dating a guy whose sister (Michelle) had the same aspirations. Over a period of several weeks they talked about their aspirations and finally decided to take the plunge and start their own restaurant.

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