How Visual Thinking Can Improve Your Remote Communication

Strong communication is key to success when working with a remote team. But remote communications also happens to be the biggest challenge faced by the remote team. Whether it’s a lack of physical cues, cultural differences, time zones, or anything else, there is an endless list of causes that can create blocks to foster an open and effective virtual team communication.

Because of these communication challenges, it is crucial for team leaders to take the appropriate measures to ensure that virtual teams have the tools and the training they need to communicate well with others, even if they’re working remotely. Accordingly, organisations can continue to reap the many benefits of hiring remote workers.

The Future of Communication is Visual

There are four components of communication that include written, verbal, non verbal and visual. Developing these soft skills are vital to a healthy, efficient workplace. And it’s also important to acknowledge that every individual has different needs and preferences for communication.

In remote teams, one of the most difficult challenges is to communicate our ideas. Sometimes our thoughts get scattered and we simply struggle to translate the image or concept in our head to something that others can understand.

One certain way to help others understand the concept inside our head (and also a better suggestion than a long-winded email) is by making them visual.

Did you know that most people understand information faster and better when it’s presented visually?

According to a study compiled by 3M, the corporation behind Post-it Notes, visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. In our everyday conversations, we are truly familiar with things like emojis, GIFs, screenshots and videos, even in the workplace. We personally think that they are like a replacement for physical cues in remote communication that makes the conversation become more engaging. That being the case, team leaders (if you haven’t) must start embracing visual and videos to foster a healthy remote communication.

The Role of Visual Thinking in Remote Communication

Incorporating visual thinking at work does not require artistic talent. Thanks to how our very brains are wired, all of us actually have the capacity to work towards becoming more visual in the way we think and communicate. According to science, [humans are visual creatures] we have hundreds of millions of neurons devoted to visual processing in our brain. In other words, our brain has the visual capacity to help us understand our own ideas and express them to others. In order to ensure we are communicating effectively, it’s important to understand the benefit of visual thinking in remote ideation, workflow and collaboration.

Visual thinking enable us to:

  • Understand, establish and polish our own ideas.
  • Simplify complex concepts in a clear manner.
  • Interpret data, make connections and draw conclusions.
  • Coordinate team members and help them to execute decisions faster.

Visual thinking can be beneficial in many ways. When you’re running a remote team meeting or brainstorming session, there will be moments that you want to be able to explain something visually, instead of verbalising it. This is where a virtual collaborative whiteboard can help facilitate visual thinking in your distributed team. Not only It can help you share the messages, but it trains you to think bigger, get creative and embrace design thinking.

“Even if we’re in a virtual world, there’s no reason we need to have blank walls – Remote meeting expert Mike Clargo.”

How to Implement Visual Thinking Into Your Remote Collaboration?

Visual thinking is not about drawing skills and awesome designs. It’s about using visual material to bring ideas to life, collaborate and look at problems from a new perspective.

Here are some visual thinking tools that can help you communicate and collaborate better with your remote team:

Mood Board 👨‍🚀

Also known as inspiration boards, mood board is designer/photographer’s best friend. A mood board helps you visualize your creative thinking and concept towards your project. It can also be useful to pitch your ideas with a mood board to other team members. You can go online (by using Pinterest, for example) or go old school (cut and paste physical copies) when creating your mood board.

Whichever style of mood board that you choose, make sure that your mood board communicates a clear visual theme so that anyone looking at it will understand what you want to achieve.

Mind Map 🗺

Even if you are no longer working in the same room, as a remote team, you still have to generate ideas collaboratively. This activity is better known as brainstorming. It’s a great way to process and breakdown information. However, it can go off-track if it’s done without structure.

This is where the mind map comes in handy. It helps us organise information, connect related ideas and help capture the flow of ideas during a brainstorming session. By connecting ideas, you can replicate the way the mind works in an organic way. When you create your own mind map, try varying colours for the different branches.

Sketch Notes 📝

As you get older, especially if you are working in less creative fields, you might move away from drawing. The fact is, drawing or sketching can be a game changer for good team collaboration. It’s the fastest and actually easiest way to convey our thoughts, to help shape the conversation in remote meetings and get everyone on the same page. Sketching can also help with memory and creative expression.

Visual Frameworks 👓

Visual frameworks are simply any analytical tool that organises ideas and breaks down concepts into blocks. Think of Venn diagrams, graphs, flow charts and tables. They are used to simplify and separate ideas to better understand any patterns or trends.

Final Words

In a remote working environment, we must accelerate our communication skills to collaborate better and improve engagements. If you are interested to learn how to step beyond words into the visual realm to make a real impact, get in touch with our team as we would be delighted to help.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be so good at drawing– just believe in the power of visual communication 😉

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