Visualization: Not Just for the Communication-Challenged

by Kate Kashdan

“Is kick-ass visual communication an important skill for engineers?”  Tyler Disney, an engineer, asks this question in his blog.  He writes that the inclusion of visual communication often makes or breaks a proposal for engineers.   He highlights fields such as architecture and urban planning as those that use their professional training and skill to make more beautiful, compelling proposals for the kinds of buildings shown below, that sell their ideas visually, and argues that engineers should take it upon themselves to do the same!

But why just engineers? Everyone embraces the notion that a picture’s worth a thousand words, and visual communication is a means to a more persuasive argument.  Engineers are often stereotyped as “communication challenged,” along with their brethen in the fields of math and science.  Even the humanities, the professions that communicate for a living would be greatly enhanced by the incorporation of visuals.  If projects and plans were presented as graphical stories instead of word documents, they would be more compelling, persuasive, and inspire genuine interest in the project instead of a visceral negative reaction to pages and pages of text.

Visual communication guarantees a response.  Using creative, colorful images to demonstrate your point or show the flow of a project plan will elicit active interest and participation.

Sure, we in the humanities are better at communicating because of all those persuasive papers we have to write, but surely even they could have been improved with a greater emphasis on visuals.  Engineers may be in need of a leg up in the communications realm, but everyone can benefit from a little more imagery in the business world.  For more, on integrating visualization check out: http://www.magamaps.com/

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