The Favorites Game: Just Picture It

By: Kristin Clarke

Author Dan Roam on his favorite artist, thing to doodle, and more.

How can you position your idea to rise to the top amid the plethora in your workplace? Draw it. Provide a simple, compelling picture of the two or three core elements of the idea so people will understand and consider it, says Dan Roam, author of Blah Blah Blah: What to Do When Words Don't Work.

"[Y]ou absolutely must make that idea vivid," he says. "You must make your idea more fine tuned, more clear, more efficient in delivery, and more exciting than the other ideas, if only for the reason you want to be heard and remembered." A picture is "visual grammar" that can be more persuasive than a thousand words that would have people yawning or confused after the first 50. (For more on his method, see "Draw on Pictures to Sell Ideas.")

Unfortunately, we all tend to have a mind trained more like what Roam calls a "fox," the part of our verbal mind that is linear, clever, and "a little self-satisfied," versus a "hummingbird," the part of our visual mind that is more chaotic, creative, and perhaps "a little too flighty."

"We need to get the fox and hummingbird working together to make sure we are whole-minded and becoming vivid—visual and verbal—when we discuss an idea," he says. His favorite tool to start the process? A Sharpie. Here are other favorites:

Favorite thing to draw when doodling an idea: People.

Favorite acronym in Blah Blah Blah: VIVID (Visual-Verbal-Interdependent Thinking).

Favorite tip for the hesitant artist: Just pick up a pen, draw a circle on a piece of paper, and give it a name. Everything will flow from that.

Favorite thing to doodle: Airplanes.

Favorite artist: It varies! There are so many I love. Leonardo [da Vinci].

Favorite napkin on which to doodle (his first book was The Back of the Napkin): Vanity Fair Everyday Napkins. The dinner napkins are overkill; they're intimidating.

Favorite place to develop big ideas: The shower, guaranteed every time.

Contributed by Kristin Clarke, a business journalist and writer for ASAE. Email: [email protected]

Kristin Clarke

Kristin Clarke is books editor for Associations Now and a business journalist and sustainability director for ASAE.