Dan Roam Keynote on Visual Communication at NTC 2012

We’re here at the Nonprofit Technology Conference in San Francisco this week. This morning was a great keynote by Dan Roam, author of “The Back of the Napkin” & “Blah, Blah, Blah – What to Do When Words Don’t Work.”

Below are highlights of the presentation:

“We can solve our problems with pictures”

Dan’s primary point was that pictures allow us to solve problems far better than words, and unfortunately, pictures aren’t even involved in many of our largest problems.

“We can clarify our ideas with pictures.”

55% of our brain works to process visual information. Why spend the first 18 years in school learning how to be more verbal? Why do we only define intelligence by ability to verbalize?

“Whoever draws the best picture gets the funding”

This is something Dan repeated throughout the presentation. Whoever best describes the problem is the person most likely to get the funding. This is because:

  1. They are able to get buy-in as they help people understand the problem
  2. And also because the person who has drawn the problem has already began to map out how it works, who is involved, and is laying the foundation for the solution… so they are more able to come up with a solution

“Any sufficiently well drawn problem carries with it the beginnings of the solution”

How Our Brains Process Pictures

Our brains process visuals using 6 visual pathways. When drawing a picture of an idea, be sure to address all 6.

  1. What – Recognizes the objects in front of you
    This is the simplest recognition of an object
    The picture of this is a portrait
  2. How much – Quantitative – How many are there?
    The picture of the “Ho much” visual pathway is a chart
  3. Where – Distance – Where are they?
    The picture is a map
  4. When – There is no cause and effect, just sequence picture is a timeline
  5. How – Cause and effect based deduction of what we think we are seeing
    The picture is a flowchart
  6. Why – Make the connection of why something is happening

A Real Life Example – Dan Roam on Healthcare Reform

Dan has recently been in the news for using pictures to explain Healthcare Reform. He, along with the help of a Heathcare expert reviewed the 1,447 page Healthcare Reform bill and created a series of 40 visuals to explain it and posted them to Slideshare.

View more presentations from Dan Roam

The presentation is approaching 500,000 views. And Dan has been interviewed on news organizations like Fox News on the topic. Because he was best able to show a picture of the issue.

Similarly, Dan has worked with the government to create whitehouse.gov/whiteboard – which uses visuals to explain complex governmental issues.

More Nonprofit Technology Conference Goodness

It was a fantastic session & I can’t wait for more NTC goodness!

More resources from NTC 2012: