Dan Roam's "The Back of the Napkin"

I can’t draw. Really. I’m a competent interaction designer, but my graphic design skills are those of a plankton. I can’t draw on the right side or the left side of my brain.

Yet, like everyone else in business and technology, I need to communicate. As so many studies — and common sense — show, we make decisions better (or, at least, faster) when there are pictures involved. I’ve written awkward stick figures and embarrassingly asymmetric circles on whiteboards and the backs of napkins and envelopes to make points. And now there’s a book to support those of us who have to communicate visually but shouldn’t be allowed to. Dan Roam’s The Back of the Napkin (Portfolio) is breezy in presentation but rigorous in approach. Essentially, it’s a framework for understanding why presenting problems in visual form makes it easier to solve them and presenting ideas in visual form makes it easier to develop them and convince others that they’re good ideas. Most important, it shows you how to show things, walking through some vivid examples and well-worn metaphors. Chances are you won’t pick the same visual metaphors — but you will think in terms of visual metaphors and that’s what will stick.

I hope I’ve made the case for this book, although I realize I would have done it more effectively if I had drawn something.

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  • http://blog.museway.com marco

    The graphical approach, that is surely an appealing way to present concepts and could help the people to say more things in a single view, have to be used with attention, mainly because the person who needs to communicate have to pay more attention to all the means a single image or picture could have . Moreover, IMO, what lacks more frequently is a creative approach.
    The creative approach is way more powerful, because it use graphics or text or anything else to create a complete and made-to-measure spectators experience.
    By using creativity the “presentation maker” can choose every time a new and impressing way to fix the message into the spectators’ memory, by giving them a unexpected experience and suggesting new points of view.
    The best things is try to share an experience with your audience (the visual thing aims at this) and for sure you will be able to capture the attention.

    I have tested this personally while readying the presentations at my workplace.
    to make it (too much) simpler:
    text = bad
    visual = good + sounds (voice/music/etc.) = best
    experience = better

    cheers

  • http://www.limnthis.com Jim S.

    You should have used a picture to make your point. ;)

  • http://corzandeffect.blogspot.com/ Corza

    Try using Sketchcast : http://www.sketchcast.com