Shall I draw you a picture?

The greatest value of a picture is when it forces us to notice what we never expected to see.

John Wilder Tukey

I’m fascinated with diagrams, schematics, charts and sketches since I don’t know when, maybe when I discovered my dad’s normograph templates, as a toddler. Of course I wasn’t allowed to use his China ink and ruling pens, but eventually I could use an old micrograph mechanic pencil.

I grew up surrounded by drawings, technical or not. When I was in first grade, my parents were called by the principal because I made a schematic of the battle of Aljubarrota, instead of a writing essay, and that wasn’t acceptable, no sir!

One of the key benefits of visual explanations is that they can help people quickly grasp the overall structure and relationships between different pieces of information. For example, a flowchart can illustrate the steps in a process, while a tree diagram can show the hierarchical relationships between different categories of information. Similarly, a bar chart or pie chart can provide a visual representation of quantitative data, making it easier to see patterns and trends that might not be immediately obvious from looking at raw numbers.

Another advantage of visual explanations is that they can help make abstract concepts more concrete. For example, a diagram that shows how a machine works can help people understand how a complex system operates. Similarly, a map can help people understand the geography of an area, and a timeline can help people understand the chronological order of events.

Visual explanations are also useful for conveying information that is difficult to express in words. For example, a photograph or a video can show what a place or an object looks like, while a graph or a chart can show how a particular variable changes over time.

Visual explanations are also more engaging and memorable than text alone. By using pictures, diagrams, and other forms of visual information, visual explanations can capture attention and hold interest. It makes a much easier for human brain to process, understand and recall the information. Furthermore, visual explanations can help reduce cognitive load, which can help people better process information.

Visual explanations can be useful in many different contexts, from education and training to business and government. They are a powerful tool for creating understanding in a sea of words and data, and can be used to make complex ideas more accessible and memorable to a wide range of audiences.

In summary, visual explanations are an essential element for simplifying complex information and creating understanding. They can help people quickly grasp the overall structure and relationships between different pieces of information, convey abstract concepts more concretely, make difficult to express information more understandable, and make information more engaging, memorable and less cognitive load. All of this make visual explanations an effective tool to communicate even the most complex ideas.