Blah Blah Blah

When words (alone) won’t work

Anyone who’s seen this book on my desk must think I am back on a graphic novel kick. Under this cartoonish cover is one of the most beneficial professional development reads I can recall, Dan Roam’s Blah Blah Blah. His ideas about the importance of being understood and using “vivid thinking” aren’t just for writers or public speakers. These fundamental principles are useful to anyone who communicates with others.

Roam makes an excellent point very early on into this book: if we rely so heavily on visual information, why don’t we think more about communicating visually? Why do the pictures which helped us learn to read go away just as the reading gets more complex? We base so many decisions on visual information and still continue to inundate our stakeholders with words and figures. Plus we expect them to not only stay awake, but understand our messages, care about their meaning and support our future efforts.

Meet Fox and Hummingbird, upper right

Dan uses two adorable mascots to represent the verbal and visual- Fox and Hummingbird. Blah Blah Blah was a fantastic read, but these lovable critters kept me engaged. Their appeal is no coincidence- they are cute but equally importantly function to help readers empathize with each element.

Great, but how do I improve my work?

Only when these two elements are used together can we use each to their full potential. Yet Blah Blah Blah is about so much more than this assertion. It’s a whole system called Vivid Thinking. Roam introduces the different elements of your idea that can be presented visually, and goes on to teach how to show different relationships between them.

I finished this book a few weeks ago and will admit it takes some work to realize these strategies. Writing blocks of words has worked well enough for so long. Like any good habit, merging the visual and verbal consistently will take work. Try working vivid thinking into your writing and presentations. Your inner fox and hummingbird will thank you!

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