How to Improve Efficiency and Productivity with Visual Communication

Having the proper tools to communicate visually is integral for business productivity, not only when it comes to creating PowerPoint presentations but for other tasks such as planning, graphing, charting and organizing. The combined use of visual and verbal communication is said to be six times more effective than the use of text-based communication alone. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Paul Stannard explains how to use visual communication to improve efficiency and productivity in your company.


In today's fast-paced, multicultural business environment, companies are using visual communication techniques to overcome challenges such as operational inefficiencies and language barriers that can often exist between employees, customers and vendors. Visual communication techniques are being used to improve understanding of concepts, knowledge retention and long-term success.

"A picture is worth a thousand words" is a well-known saying that sums up the reasons for using visual communication in the workplace. But beyond traditional organizational charts and diagrams, the use of visual communication in the corporate environment has typically been reserved for the advertising department. For everyone else in the office, text-based communication has long been the primary means to convey information since the bygone era of the corporate typing pool.

Fortunately, a myriad of tools such as the modern word processor and e-mail emerged to make the creation of text-based messages easier and more efficient. But have these tools really improved the effectiveness of our business communication efforts? Has the mode in which we put words onto paper or screen actually enhanced our ability to understand the meaning or impact of the message?

Research has shown that visual aids are incredibly powerful tools for enhancing both the understanding of concepts and knowledge retention in a variety of settings beyond advertising. Studies have shown that people "only remember 10 percent of what they hear, 30 percent of what they read, but about 80 percent of what they see and do."

The Department of Labor also suggests using visual aids to achieve more effective communication. It cites studies which found that not only does approximately 83 percent of human learning occur visually, but also that "retention of information three days after a meeting or other event is six times greater when information is presented by visual and oral means than when the information is presented by the spoken word alone."