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Improve Your Visual Communication Skills with Visual Grammar

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Uploaded on Feb 7, 2011

Businesses around the world are using visuals to communicate more effectively. Visual Grammar provides common rules for communicating with visuals and will increase the effectiveness of your visual communication. By using consistent formatting, concepts communicated visually are understood quicker while the rate of miscommunication is reduced.

SmartDraw has standardized a set of common rules for communicating with visuals effectively. Learn more about visual grammar: http://www.smartdraw.com/enterprise/v...

We are in the midst of a visual revolution. Successful organizations around the world are using visuals more and more, every day, to succeed in business. Why? Because nothing communicates as powerfully and immediately as the right business visual.
A recent study shows that the average length of meetings in which visuals were used was 26% shorter than meetings without visuals.
But up until now there's been a lack of common rules for communicating with visuals, which reduces their effectiveness for widespread communication.
With the recent dramatic increase in visual communication, this is becoming a major problem and even a deterrent.
Consider written communication. Everyone can read a business document because it's written following accepted rules: the words are spelled in standard way, they are arranged from left to right, punctuation is applied, the spacing of words sentences and paragraphs is uniformly applied, and so on. These standards eliminate distractions, allowing you to focus on what the words are saying.
Now take a look at these flowcharts. Some use arbitrary shapes and colors. Some flow left to right, or top to bottom, or both! Random formatting afflicts other visuals too, like org charts and mind maps. The more visuals are used in business, the more this "ransom note"-style formatting inhibits comprehension.
To solve this problem, SmartDraw developed a set of simple rules to ensure business visuals communicate as effectively as possible. We call it: Visual Grammar.
The Visual Grammar rules are built into SmartDraw. Just as a word processor automatically applies proper formatting to text documents, SmartDraw applies Visual Grammar rules to your visual as you create it, automatically.
The first global rule in the Visual Grammar is the consistency rule, which simply means that equivalent shapes, lines, and text should all look the same. They should be formatted consistently just like text in a paragraph.
Boxes in a flowchart, for example, should be the same size, color, spaced and aligned uniformly, and have the same outline unless specific emphasis is required.
This consistent formatting eliminates distractions and allows readers to concentrate on the content of the visual.
The same goes for organization charts and mind maps.
The second global Visual Grammar rule seems like common sense but is broken all the time. It's the one-page rule. A well formatted business visual should fit on a single page with the text clearly readable.
To be effective, a visual must be viewed as a whole so it has to fit on a single page or screen.
But what if you have a large and complex visual, like a two-hundred person org chart? Well, unless you plan to print it out as a poster, it should be broken up into a hierarchy of smaller charts—by department, for example. SmartDraw does this for you automatically, and stores the interlinked charts together as a collection.
Along with having consistent formatting and fitting on a single page or screen, the Visual Grammar includes these rules for flowcharts:
A flowchart should flow from left to right, the way we read.
Decisions in the flowchart are best represented as a split in the path rather than a diamond, because a fork in the road is immediately and universally understood. Split paths also allow you to maintain the left to right flow.
Visual Grammar rules for organization charts and mind maps are similar, applying a consistent look to each.
When you create your visuals with SmartDraw, the Visual Grammar rules are applied automatically as you go, by default.
With SmartDraw on every desktop, this gives you a real return on investment:
Everyone will be able to create their own visuals, reducing the need for costly professional graphic design.
And, thanks to the common standard of Visual Grammar, presentations and reports will communicate more efficiently and ultimately be more effective.
For the first time the Visual Grammar sets out simple rules to ensure business visuals communicate as effectively as possible.
And SmartDraw applies them for you, automatically.
It's just another advantage of communicating visually with SmartDraw, the world's first visual processor.

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