by Christine Martell
Open your eyes to a new way of improving communication. VisualsSpeak is a training game that uses the power of visual communication to create energy, excitement, and a sense of connection in your training classroom. The activities are fun and engaging, but the learning experience is rich and most likely more powerful than anything you've experienced as a trainer. Flexible, customizable, and reusable, VisualsSpeak can be easily incorporated into any training curriculum, including team building, coaching, strategic planning, conflict resolution, and more.
The VisualsSpeak process is powerful, yet easy to use. First you ask a framing question, such as "What kind of place do we want this organization to be?" Each participant answers the question by choosing images, arranging them on a background sheet. After 5 minutes, participants describe the images and their meanings. You will find that some participants' response range from literal descriptions to metaphoric meanings. Some will choose to describe individual images; others will find meaning in the collection as a whole. Then you discuss the group's responses and note connections, patterns, similarities. Together, you unlock insights it would have taken months to uncover with conventional methods. Conversations become meaningful and productive. Decisions become clear. Although the activity itself may take up to 15 minutes, the resulting dialogue and learning experience may last much longer. See "Uses for the Game" below, for ideas and suggestions.
- Bring individual and group differences to the surface
- Enable people to see a different perspective
- Generate new ideas
- Build consensus Improve team alignment
Uses for the Game
The VisualsSpeak approach can be used to address a wide range of issues, both at the individual and organizational levels. While the activity itself can be run in as little as 15 minutes, the resulting dialogue can last much longer. VisualsSpeak is flexible. It can be used as an ice-breaker, an activity, a component of a larger training curriculum, or a full-day program.
- Team Building - VisualsSpeak fosters deeper understanding among team members, closely aligning teams in a common direction. For example, one way to use VisualsSpeak is to have each individual assemble a set of images showing "what they bring to the team." This helps to identify the strengths of each team member, while uncovering the overall strengths and weaknesses of your team.
- Strategic Visioning and Goal-Setting - VisualsSpeak enables teams to create a more compelling strategic vision than is possible by simply writing a vision statement. For example, asking your team to work as a group in response to the question, "What's the vision for your group over the next two years?" not only reveals your team goals, but also the core values needed to inspire your team to action.
- Conflict Resolution - VisualsSpeak helps to mediate conflicts and address specific organizational challenges such as team rifts, low employee morale and conflicts between two or more people. For example, by asking a team experiencing poor employee morale to build separate collages that "paint a picture of a supportive work environment," your organization can clearly identify the ideal work environment employees envision and then make the changes needed to bring about that environment.
- Career and Life Coaching - VisualsSpeak provides a valuable tool for individuals who want to pursue their true career or life passion. By asking an individual to create a picture showing "what the present looks like" on one side of the page, and "what is desired in the future" on the other side, VisualsSpeak can unlock deep truths that would otherwise remain hidden. This information is revealed to individuals in a fun, non-threatening way, helping them to form future goals that resonate more clearly with their true inner desires.
- Intercultural Communications and Diversity - VisualsSpeak promotes diversity and helps to foster greater intercultural awareness. For example, asking members of a team to work individually to select and arrange images in response to the question, "Who are you?" exposes the commonalities and differences between team members. It also demonstrates the core values that exist within different cultures.
Theory and Development
Studies show that learning accelerates and deepens when the whole brain is engaged. VisualsSpeak is a tool that builds a bridge between the right and left sides of our brains, making learning faster, more interesting and more effective, providing users with a richer set of data from which to base critical decisions. With a wider range of information, participants see their strengths and priorities more clearly, inspiring them to lead more masterful lives. VisualsSpeak uses the power of images to identify beliefs deeply rooted in the mind. Memories and associations that emerge through images are often quite different from those stimulated through verbal interviews. Participants can go beyond the rational part of their minds and tap into a more intuitive part of themselves. All aspects of the psyche, the conscious and unconscious, the emotional and the intellectual, can be brought forward. Both the images and the process are extensively tested. The images were whittled down from 20,000 to 200 through two years of testing with live teams.
What to Order
The VisualsSpeak Complete Kit includes enough materials for up to 30 people. If you are training larger groups, or need to pose more complex framing questions, additional kits are available for purchase at a discount. Each VisualsSpeak Complete Kit includes: Comprehensive User Manual; 200 evocative, custom photographs; and a sturdy tote bag.