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Great communication in the workplace is rare, but absolutely essential for productivity. The problem? Most businesses rely far too much on verbal communication (in the form of emails, long-form reports, and memos) and not nearly enough on visual communication.

According to research into visual perception, visuals are a much more effective communication tool than text alone. Research has revealed not only that images are more memorable than text, and but that illustrations can aid understanding of text material. The most powerful characteristic of visuals: they’re able to communicate a massive amount of information concisely, in a way that’s easily digestible.

So, how can we use visuals to improve our communication at work?

Use project roadmaps to outline project tasks, milestones, and deadlines

A project roadmap is a summative document that visually outlines the major tasks required to complete a project. It can either give a bird’s eye view of the long-term goals of a project, or give a highly-detailed snapshot of a project’s day-to-day tasks.

This visual tool can help teams:

  • Understand and optimize their workflows
  • Prioritize their initiatives
  • Set and communicate reasonable deadlines and milestones

More importantly, it can be used to build consensus across teams by making sure everyone is aware of what others are working on. It gives large teams a common touchpoint, where collaborators can come together and discuss, share, and track progress.

Sure, you could lay out all of the same information in a spreadsheet, but having that visual component makes it much easier to recognize conflicting or overlapping tasks and to track progress. Plus, with a visual roadmap, you can use a smart color scheme to organize your projects by priority, team, or project.

Use flowcharts to guide decision-making for common tasks

Flowcharts, originally developed by engineers to document technical processes, can be used in the business and marketing world to drive reliable decision-making. By mapping out all of the outcomes of a series of related decisions, a flowchart can help us weigh our options more systematically than would otherwise be possible.

Flowcharts are especially helpful for ensuring that repeatable processes are carried out the same way across a large team of organization. Many marketing processes, for example, are fairly repeatable, and most established marketing teams have well-defined steps for carrying them out. Creating and sharing flowcharts of these processes can ensure every team member is on the same page about how to complete those tasks.

Use a brand style guide to coordinate sales, marketing, and design efforts

A brand style guide is an essential communication tool that can help bring consistency to all of your collateral. It’s the key document that will align your sales, design, marketing, and customer service teams when it comes to communicating your brand identity to the world.

A brand style guide typically defines a few core brand elements:

  • Company mission and core values
  • Brand voice and personality
  • Logo usage rules
  • Color palettes
  • Image guidelines

Besides being crucial for building content consistency, having a comprehensive brand style guide means that marketers won’t have to check in with design every time they need a color swatch, for example. Having a standard style guide as a consistent reference point will seriously streamline your content creation processes.

Conclusion

Since we are able to process visual information more efficiently than verbal information, using visuals to improve your internal business communications should be a no-brainer.

Visuals like project roadmaps, process flowcharts, and brand style guides can boost productivity within your organization by ensuring that day-to-day tasks are contributing to your long-term business goals. Not to mention, they can empower team members with the confidence to know that the work they’re doing is having an impact on the goals of the organization.