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Visualization Presenting ideas comprehensibly

Published on 30.06.2020 by Andrea Berset, Managing Director of kimia – visuelle Begleitung Berset

Endless strings of numbers and mountains of text – we come across both of these only too often during a typical working day. Visualizations can provide relief. Whether you need to present a complex strategy in a simplified way or put the finishing touches on a PowerPoint presentation, visualized elements can help to break down abstract concepts and simplify things that are difficult to understand. And best of all, visualization is not about talent, but much more about practice.

You see two pictures of horses here. One is drawn, the other is visualized. To draw a horse, you need talent, a great deal of practice and time. To visualize a horse, you don’t need any talent. With just a little practice, it will take you only about 30 seconds to visualize a horse.

Fig. 1: A drawing of a horse vs a visualized horse (source: Andrea Berset)

We visualize when we need to do something “fast”.

And that’s why I often pick up my pen. The advantages:

  • 100% attention: for the content that you’re trying to convey and for your own thoughts and ideas that come to mind while listening.
  • Clarity: certain concepts will mean something different to each person. If you convert these concepts into pictures and compare them with others, you will realize that others may have a different idea of what is meant. Try it out in your team by asking everyone to visualize the term “value”. How many different pictures and meanings are produced?
  • Mnemonic technique: unlike words, images are easier to fix in our memories and are easier to recall as a result.

If you visualize, you’re more focused. You create clarity, and concepts stay in your memory for longer.

What are visualizations exactly? Apart from being quick drawings? Visualizations consist of three elements: simple pictures, words and a structure linking these together and creating a context.

When you visualize, you are primarily listening. You are hearing what others say and forming your very own mental picture in your mind of what you are hearing. As an example, imagine a work colleague talking to you and telling you about their holidays they have just been on. What happens in your mind, what images come into your head?

Fig. 2: Visualizing means listening, creating a mental image and then taking a pen and transferring this image to paper (source: Andrea Berset)

Now look more closely at this image. What do you see? What shapes do you see? The visual ABC is made up of these shapes:

Fig. 3: The basic shapes of visualizations (source: Andrea Berset)

Now think of your image again. What shapes does it contain? Are they modified in some way or combined with other shapes? As the last step, take a pen and try to transfer this picture to paper using these simple shapes.

When we visualize, we limit ourselves to the basic shapes and try to visualize using these basic shapes.

I’d like to show you some examples here of visualizations that are all based on the basic shapes. Icons, animals, frames and figures.

Fig. 4: Basic visualization shapes: frames, icons, animals and figures (source: Andrea Berset)

And now it’s your turn: try to draw these visualizations yourself. Think of where you want to start and what sequence works best or is the most efficient. You can also consider what meaning the visualization may have. Does the lifebuoy only mean a lifebuoy? Or can you also use it symbolically to refer to other concepts, such as “hotline” or “I need help”?

You see that you can already convey a great deal with just a small repertoire of “pictures”. You can still make variations by changing the size or number of symbols. This is another way to give your pictures different meanings and perspectives.

When we create visualizations, we work with metaphors, perspectives and meanings and put them into context.

You can of course also create visualizations digitally. All you need for this is a tablet or iPad, a stylus and a good app. I enjoy working with the “Procreate” and “Paper” apps.


Do you want to find out more? Here you can register for a visualization course that meets your needs. I run these courses jointly with my visualization partner, Daniel Osterwalder. From 1 September, you will also be able to study the content online. More information will be available on our websites soon.

Andrea Berset, Managing Director of kimia – visuelle Begleitung

Andrea Berset has been running her company since 2015. She supports people in their change processes and helps them to develop their skills. Her role is to act as a visual coach/facilitator and as a graphic recorder. She was previously employed by a financial services provider in the marketing, training and HR sectors. If you had to describe her with hashtags, they would be the following: #visual #structured #withheart #participatory #visionary

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