4 January 2010

Are You a Visual Thinker?

I sure am. I hear conversations and I envision pictures and images in my mind. I remember faces, places, interactions and life in general in my mind’s eye. It turns out most of us are visual thinkers.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and been totally confused by what they are saying? Only to have them grab a piece of paper or go to a whiteboard or flip chart and say “let me show you.”? They then proceed to draw something-or-other which results in you better understanding the point they are trying to make, or the concept they are trying to explain. That’s the power of visual thinking.

Floyd Wickman, the grandfather of real estate training, was a mentor of mine early on in my career. One of the sale techniques Floyd taught he called the “talking pad”. He trained agents to always have a black note pad and write, scribble or draw your key points during a sales presentation.  Use the talking pad as  you explain an offer, present a CMA, review showings or whatever the situation is. The talking pad adds the visual element to the verbal communication and increases focus, understanding and retention. As it turns out, it’s also very persuasive.

The Back of the NapkinDan Roam recently published a great book on this topic called The Back of the Napkin. The book discusses and demonstrates the power of visual thinking to solve problems with pictures.

We are in an increasingly complicated world where we are inundated with email, texting, online tools, conference calls, video conferences and a long list of other communication tools. Cutting through the clutter to make a point is vital to our success. If you can reduce a 10 page PowerPoint full of text to 1 page of visuals and text, you’ve really done something impressive. If you can leave a meeting with the other attendees knowing your three key take a ways, that’s a productive meeting. If you can focus a seller on the key terms of an offer instead of getting lost in 4 pages of legality, that’s going to simplify the decision making process.

Whether it’s the back of a napkin, the talking pad, the whiteboard or flip chart, use these tools to evoke the visual thinker in all of us. You don’t have to be an artist. That’s the great thing about our mind’s eye, we know how to turn a stick person in a flesh and blood image and we know how to turn a square with a triangle on top of it into our dream home. Most of us turn words into pictures instinctively, why not use that to our advantage?

Photos Courtesy of  TheBackoftheNapkin.com

4 thoughts on “Are You a Visual Thinker?

  1. Funny… I got out of bed very early one day last week and I wrote a new listing presentation. It just sort of flowed out of me like a divine inspiration (I'm clear that it wasn't divinely inspired, in case you're wondering). The entire "script" takes less than five minutes to speak and I envisioned it being presented with about ten professionally drawn images (because my stick men would only confuse a prospective seller) as visual aids. I later questioned whether hand drawings might come across as insultingly simple but perhaps I should revisit this. Done right, it could actually be fun. I'm presently in this strange place where a PowerPoint dog and pony show feels awkward, unreal and almost embarrassing. I don't know why, but I do need to make a change of some kind.

    Wendy, your name came up the other day in a conversation with a mutual friend. I later found myself reflecting and I wanted to let you know that I just couldn't think of another person who has had a greater influence on me professionally than you. I realize that this may sound odd, but the sixty or so minutes we spent chatting in Toronto in the fall of 2006 was a pivotal hour in my real estate career. Everything changed for me after that. Thank you for inspiring me and for being a leader in my life. I am truly indebted to you.

    Best wishes for a happy 2009.

    1. Hi Norm

      So great to hear from you. I've been following your success and to think I had any part in helping you makes me so happy. I remember that conversation as well. I was so proud of you when you took a chance and started your blog.

      I can't tell you how much I appreciate your feedback. I've been blessed by the real estate industry and all the wonderful relationships is has brought into my life. Hearing from you makes the long days and hard work all worthwhile. It's what keeps me so excited about what I do.

      Take care and all the best in 2010.


  2. Stepping out of a formal presentation and drawing up a diagarm or chart makes the entire process human. Just like your sixty minute life changing event in 2006. Drawing it up on a napkin, notepad, business card or white borad highlights what we have seen but a detail we may have missed. All we have to look at is NFL football TV broadcasts where the color commentator uses the telestrator to identify the key players and the direction of the play.

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