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Andrew L. Van Slaars

The Value of Drawing Pictures

· by Andrew Van Slaars · Read in about 2 min · (396 Words)
teaching explaining

Use Pictures

Words can be a hard way to convey a new idea. The more complicated something is, the more words you’ll need to explain it. Often, a simple drawing will get the point across where words have failed.

Technical topics lend themselves to diagrams and flow charts. Even simple boxes and arrows, drawn crudely on a white board, can convey way more useful information than a beautifully crafted keynote slide that relies on words to get an idea across.

Draw Pictures

Seeing a static picture can be hugely beneficial to an audience. Adding the dimension of time takes your pictures to a whole new level in terms of their power to communicate an idea. Building up a picture over time can provide more value that a static version of the end result.

Combining visuals with words over time gives you the best of both worlds. You can break all the wordy explanations down into smaller, more manageable chunks. You clarify the verbal explanations by combining them with pictures and you provide context by adding parts to the whole over time and in order.

When working with an audience in real-time, this affords you opportunities to address questions at each step, providing an even more interactive and immersive learning experience.

At the end, each item you’ve discussed along the way is visible in the context of the whole. Once the big picture has been laid out one step at a time, it becomes a great visual for a review and that added context makes it more effective when you use it to dive into more detail on each part of the whole and the connections between the parts.

Static visuals can be quite powerful on their own, but seeing a picture come together over time, in a specific order and accompanied by explanation, can be the difference between confusion and that lightbulb moment.


Of course, a whiteboard and a live audience isn’t always an option. If you’re trying to add the benefits of live drawing to your educational material, video is a great option. I’m a huge fan of screencasting, especially for code since it’s easy to show the progression from an idea or problem through to the solution.

The combination of verbal explanation, visuals and the context provided by time are the killer combination that makes video tutorials provided by services like egghead.io so valuable.

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