The Back of the Napkin
As a communicator, I find few things more painful than sitting through a poorly executed presentation where the presenter literally reads his word-overloaded slides to me. Too many people use PowerPoint and too few actually know how to use the tool well.
Enter Dan Roam. Dan contends that anyone can be a great communicator by simply taking a more graphic approach to presenting. In his book, The Back of the Napkin, Dan outlines how a few visuals are often more powerful than pages and pages of text. He calls this idea “visual thinking.”
Dan tells the story of Southwest Airlines as an example of how a company was formed through visual thinking. The common folklore is that Herb Kelleher (Southwest CEO) developed the idea of the airline by drawing a few figures on the back of a paper napkin. The entire business model was boiled down to a few essential elements on a small square of paper, which Herb was then able to sell to investors and customers.
Dan illustrates (literally) dozens of other examples of how he has helped large Fortune 500 companies take complex issues and boil them down to their most simple essence for the purposes of communication. As a visual person, his concepts make complete sense to me.
And, they make sense to others. Dan recently gained national exposure for his “back of the napkin” healthcare reform review. Fox News invited Dan to present live on their show and the Huffington Post included his SlideShare posting on its website. (Along with over 120,000 others, you can check out his explanation of just what the healthcare debate is all about – via pictures – on SlideShare.net http://www.slideshare.net/danroam/healthcare-napkins-all.)
Images that tell a story help get groups of people on the same page – quickly. The idea of visual thinking is powerful, and Dan’s book gives you the basic tools to get started. It is a worthwhile read. Learn more about Dan at http://www.thebackofthenapkin.com/.
Nicole Provonchee is the Vice President of Business Development at Parthenon Publishing.