You are here

  1. Home
  2. Alumni
  3. Professional Knowledge Bank
  4. Helping employees to see the bigger picture

Helping employees to see the bigger picture

Author Craig Smith

In this article Craig examines the value of visualisation in complex, fast-moving organisations. The speed and efficiency of visualisation is something organisations are now starting to include more and more in mainstream internal communications.

Visualisation as an employee engagement tool

Since the birth of man, people have used the advantages of visualisation to express feelings and emotion and to explain complex ideas narratives. In today’s fast-paced and knowledge-thirsty world, internal communicators are returning to visualisation as a strategy to engage and inform employees and to create a positive learning experience at work.

People who need to communicate utilise the power of visual communication

Some may baulk at the idea of visualisation as a worthy format for communication, though it is a strategy that proves its value every day and everywhere we look. A few examples of the advantages of visualisation include:

  • Children are taught to read with the aid of visuals
  • Teachers explain complicated theories to pupils by drawing on blackboards of whiteboards (a chemical formula and its bonding is much more easily understood when depicted diagrammatically)
  • Marketers utilise visualisation in commercials, printed adverts and billboards, where meaning must be conveyed in an instant
  • Companies include charts and graphs in annual reports to show progress over the previous 12 months
  • Political cartoonists create pictorial satire that explains in one glance what a whole-page editorial would find hard to depict

This last example is extremely apt. Graphic artists are able to transcend the fallibility of language with visuals which are easily understood by all.

Many graphic artists who work to inform and explain identify as graphic journalists. Indeed, graphic journalism using visual communication techniques is a flourishing form of information dissemination, both online and in print. Type in ‘graphic journalism’ as a search term in Google, and you will discover more than 100 million 
online results. The term ‘visual communication’ yields more than one billion.

The advantages of visualisation in the world of business

Graphic journalism employs the advantages of visualisation that allow communicators to reach wider audiences and encourage deeper investigation of the complex. They develop narratives that are more easily followed by all, with common visual communication types including infographic, videos, cartoons and comic strips.

Graphics work so exceptionally well because of the advantages of visualisation, which include:

  • Visualisation of complex issues is more easily consumed than large tracts of text
  • Space constraints are eliminated
  • Easier to share, for examples via social media, helping to spread messages more widely
  • Language barriers decrease – visual communication makes subject matter more accessible to all
  • They encourage conversation and understanding around complicated subject matters

How communicators utilise the advantages of visualisation

As with verbal or written communication, the visual communications must narrate and control the flow of the story they wish to tell. The act of illustrating narrative becomes an intimate and enlightening process, as the illustrator talks, listens and draws what the subject wishes to say. It allows deep and meaningful dialogue – a completely different connection than with a writer who takes notes and then expands.

Internal communicators who wish to benefit from the advantages of visualisation will need to work with an experienced and business visual consultancy. It’s a highly personalised practice that digs deep into real meaning, allowing the consultancy to learn and understand context and to set this in a visual format.

When utilised well, visual communication of organisational narrative allows it to be given greater meaning and is more easily understood than, say, a wordy PowerPoint presentation.

Visualisation is a credible form of communication, a meaningful arrow in the quiver of employee communication tactics used by influential leaders. It is already used to inform and explain many complex issues in the world, and by organisations when communicating to shareholders and other stakeholders.

In a business world in which messages must be transmitted at pace, and in which meaning gets lost across the divides of language, culture, and geographical remoteness, the many advantages of visualisation bring many benefits that might otherwise be lost when communicating in a less global language.

As you drive to improve employee engagement, benefit from the advantages of visualisation to help your people understand the big picture of your organisation.

If you’d like to find out more about our corporate visualisation work at The Big Picture People, please get in touch via our website

Author Craig Smith MBA

Craig Smith

Craig is the owner and lead consultant at The Big Picture People ( He also hosts the ‘Engaging Internal Comms’ podcast. He has a passion for helping organisations and individuals achieve their full potential and believes that ALL work should be engaging, 
stimulating and meaningful. His goal is to help clients to create an environment where this is possible, whatever sector they operate in.

The Big Picture People’s unique approach combines visualisation, gamification, social learning and conversation to help employees feel more engaged, more passionate about their work, make better decisions and ultimately contribute more.Craig brings over 25 years of experience of working as a line manager, Learning and Development professional, OD Consultant and business owner. He is a member of the Institute of Internal Communications (IoIC) and co-lead the IoIC Newcastle and North East Hub.

When not working, Craig is a keen runner who ran all of the six World Marathon Majors (Boston, London, New York, Chicago, Berlin and Tokyo) between 2010 and 2014. He is also a keen cyclist and walker and, in 2008, he trekked to the summit of Kilimanjaro (the highest mountain in Africa). 

© Craig Smith MBA, 2015 
Reviewed 2022

Would you like to contribute an article towards our Professional Knowledge Bank? Find out more.