By Guest Contributor Chris Haynes, Communications Consultant and Coach, Former Director of Communications, Sky Sports and England Cricket

I first made sense of the world through shapes.

In early learning, I discovered the star, circle, triangle and square and learned how to fit them into the correct holes on a board.

Then Play School, a favourite pre-school TV show, encouraged me to see how things were made by ‘looking through the round, square or arched window,’ depending on the day.

Words quickly took over. I was driven to learn more, use more, apply more, adding complexity and nuance. For me, more words meant progress.

Through that, I made a career in communications and words became ‘my thing.’ Again, I was rewarded for words and having a wide vocabulary. But maybe I’d also lost something along the way.

Recently I flicked through a shelf of my old hardback workbooks. They carried handwritten notes across decades of complex issues, actions and stories. They showed my thoughts, analysis, actions and attempts to make plans memorable.

And as I moved through the pages, the notes evolved.

There were two significant steps: a joined-up scrawl had switched to capital letters, and clear shapes and diagrams had emerged to help me to understand my thinking.

I had started to use fewer words with greater impact. Processes and flows were evident. My ideas were easier to read and recall. I could see the moment I’d been introduced to The Diagrams Book and started to apply its approach.

In an ever more complicated world, The Diagrams Book has helped me to visualise thoughts and simplify strategy – for myself, with colleagues and presenting to clients – and lived up to its promise to “solve any problem visually.”

It has had a catalytic effect on the way I shape and present ideas. It has helped me to communicate insights, processes and actions, both visually and verbally, and to connect with audiences across cultures and mindsets. To give my thoughts shape.

Now, each time I have something tricky to process or distil, I dive into The Diagrams Book and find a solution. I can find stimulus, adopt or adapt a shape or flow, turn complexity into simplicity and find a memorable solution.

And as Kevin’s Cone of Learning shows, we’re three times more likely to remember what we have seen compared to what we have read.

Everyone will have their favourite diagrams; something that fits their way of thinking or their regular tasks. I love the Bow Tie, the Cultural Deadline, Three Buckets, Whittling Wedge, Barriers To Purchase Axis and the Loud Hailer.

You’ll have your own and treasure different ones on different days for different projects.

Kevin’s brilliant book has proved so valuable that I not only recommend it but regularly gift it. I’m sure you’ll do the same. Recipients become better communicators, strategists or leaders, and evangelists themselves.

Looking at the testimonials The Diagrams Book has gathered over a decade – across industries, sectors and cultures – its applications are as wide as its influence. And translation into twenty languages is proof of how shapes can cut across continents and cultures.

Its genius is turning complexity into simplicity, in creating clarity and impact through ideas presented in shapes.

CHRIS HAYNES, Communications Consultant and Coach, Former Director of Communications, Sky Sports and England Cricket

Suggested Reading

This book is a classic. The author has spent a decade collecting the world’s most helpful diagrams, and here is the result. Over 100,000 copies and 15 translations later, this 10th anniversary edition contains 100 diagrams, 50 of them new from the original.

Cross-referenced by the most common use occasions, this is a reference book that no one who makes presentations should be without. Save yourself thousands of wasted hours generating endless charts and instead cut to the chase with one or two carefully selected diagrams. Truly a triumph of visual thinking, this is the author’s gift to the world.

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