Tips for Effective Visual Communication
The tech world is a diverse, multicultural environment, perhaps more so than any other industry. As the industry evolves and companies use new methods and technologies to help make their teams more efficient. Sometimes the simplest things get overlooked. This is where we can use a visual method of communication.
Managing a culturally diverse team that oftentimes spans many countries is no easy task; different languages and customs, let alone the simple fact that a tech team may be thousands of miles apart can make a tech leader’s job that much harder.
When it comes to cutting across language barriers for international teams, how can leaders speed up knowledge-transfer when setting up new team members? How can you communicate efficiently with the veterans on the team? It’s time to simplify and communicate visually.
Creating a “common visual language”
Before anything else, it is important to establish a common visual language for your team to use. This will be the foundation for all other visual communication going forward. Helping to ensure that everyone is on the same page – literally.
One way to do this is by using infographics and charts to break down complex topics or data sets. Allowing for easy digestion and eliminates any confusion that may arise from misunderstanding written explanations.
It also helps to create a system of icons or symbols that can be used to quickly convey meaning. For example, you could use an icon of a lightbulb to indicate an “Aha!” moment. Maybe even green checkmark to show that a task has been completed.
Simplifying complex topics
When dealing with complex topics, it is often helpful to create a visual representation of the information. This could be in the form of a mind map, flow chart, or just a simple list with pictures.
Organizing information in this way can help your team members see the “big picture”. They will understand how all the different pieces fit together. Additionally, it can make it easier to identify any potential problems or areas that need further explanation.
When working on new project, creating a mind map can help you find the best approach. This would allow you to see which tasks need to be completed first. Working through any potential roadblocks that you may encounter.
Grabbing Their Attention
In a fast-paced environment like the tech industry, it can be easy for important messages to get lost in the shuffle. To make sure your team members are paying attention, use visual cues to grab their attention and highlight key points.
This could be something as simple as using bold text or colorful fonts to dress up boring bullet points. Or, if you want to really make an impact, you could use graphics or even video.
If you’re presenting a new idea to your team, you could start off with an attention-grabbing statistic or quote. This will help pique their interest and encourage them to pay attention to the rest of your presentation.
Use visuals to tell a story
People are naturally wired to respond to stories, so why not use this to your advantage? When trying to communicate something complex, try using visuals to tell a story that illustrates your point.
This could be in the form of a comic strip, infographics, or even just a well-designed PowerPoint presentation. Whatever form it takes, make sure that your story is clear, concise, and easy to follow.
For example, if you’re trying to explain a new concept to your team, you could create a short comic that walks them through the basics. This would be much more effective than simply providing written instructions or giving a dry presentation.
Use Visual Tools
Any new action plan is as good as the tools used to implement it. Using visual tools like schematics, wireframes, and flows can become your team’s main language and help you communicate more effectively with your international teams. Speaking through prototyping tools is another way to help you fit more concepts onto a single page simplifying the flow of communication.
The ability to visually communicate a project from start to finish, particularly in the early development phase, will help you guide your team in a way that is consistent and actionable, and will lead to an overall better end result. With an extra focus placed on wireframe annotations, this creates a contextual perspective that makes communication between your teams easy and efficient.
Annotate Through Visuals
A lot can be lost in the back and forth communication between teams. Sometimes details can be left on the table that will be incredibly time consuming and draining for your team to sort through later. Consider how you deconstruct wireframes to show changes, alternate interactions, and secondary mini-flows. Can you clearly document key elements like input structures and validation requirements?
Annotating through visuals helps your team have access to these in one place and because of this, expectations are easily accomplished, and deadlines are easily met. When a developer and QA Engineer have access to what a visual prototype, they get a very clear idea of what the results should be and can deliver on those expectations.
Record Notes and Feedback
Feedback sessions are just as important for visual communication. Oftentimes, the sessions are lost because they weren’t recorded, making it much more difficult for your teams to circle back and revisit what was taught or said. Without a proper recording, teams are forced to rely on handwritten notes which provide a consistency issue. Also, when you are working with international teams, it becomes easier for certain words or turns of phrase to be misconstrued entirely.
By recording your feedback sessions and organizing them in an easy to access, an organized library that developers and QA can easily access, you’re giving your team the most valuable tool in the arsenal: On-demand feedback and training at the click of a button. Implement visual recordings for every meeting and your team will never miss a beat.
Keep it Simple
Visual communication, particularly for tech teams, simplifies the communication process in a way that makes thoughts and ideas actionable and the implementation of these ideas, efficient. In the digital age, where we can communicate with teams on the other side of the world at the click of a button, it’s important to cross language barriers and overcome communication obstacles in the most efficient way.
Using the right tools, your teams will have the ability to complete the task at hand faster and easier than ever before. Sometimes the answer to our most pressing issues is as simple as adjusting an approach.