I'm sure you've heard the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words”.

Well, it's also true when it comes to showing up as a strategic leader. If you're struggling to be seen as exec material and want to know how to come across as a strategic leader, this newsletter is for you.

Last week I had my good friend Shea Cole, 2xVP Marketing, come speak with the I2A community and share The 6 Step Strategy. She shared how the first time she tried to put together a ‘strategy' and present it, it didn't go well. Her boss waited until she was done and then said, “This isn't a strategy. It's just a plan.”

Once she learned to do this right, she saw her career start to take off.

As she shared her six-step process it was interesting to see how well our approaches aligned. And one of the key elements she shared was to create a visual model. I always tell my clients that if you can possibly present something visually, do it.


Why is this so important?

Visual models are helpful for a whole host of reasons. First of all, studies show that ~65% of us are visual learners, which means we'll better understand information presented in this format.

There's also data showing that using a visual model:

  • Allows you to simplify complex ideas
  • Engages your audience more
  • Increases understanding
  • Enhances memory

It also helps with each of the 3Cs I talk about with respect to communicating effectively with VPs and C-suite execs: Clear, Concise and Compelling. A good visual model will help make your message clearer, more concise and more compelling. It will even make you more credible.

I experienced this first hand when I started at a new company. I distinctly remember one department who made an immediate impression on me. They were presenting an update, I walked out of the meeting thinking, ‘Wow, these guys really know what they're doing. We have a world class team here.”

Over time, I came to realize that what had impressed me so much were the visuals they used in their slides! It was that compelling.

I'm a person who's curious and loves finding connections and trends. As I started to pay more attention, I realized that the people who would spend the time to create a visual model when presenting their strategy had a much higher success rate, in terms of how it was valued and perceived.

So I started doing this myself. And I'm telling you, it works!

The more I was intentional about this, the more I was viewed as a strategic leader.

The key thing to understand here is that it doesn't have to be overly complex. Here's an example:

I was working on some content on the power of habits to create lasting change in your life. I came up with the idea that the habit is the catalyst in going from insight to change. As I was putting this into a slide, I represented this idea using the graphic below:

Now, this is an easy concept, but when you look at the graphic, it makes it that much easier to grasp what I'm talking about. It also makes the idea look as though it's been thought through more thoroughly. It simply makes it more credible than a list of bullet points or a paragraph of words.


So, how can you get started?

The first thing you want to do is take your idea or strategy, and get clear on what the key points are.

Next, decide what type of visual model makes sense. Are you introducing a new workflow? Use a flowchart. Sharing results? Create a graph or pie chart, depending on what best represents the data.

Other visual models include diagrams, mind maps or infographics. Some of these are better for sharing more qualitative information, where graphs and charts are better suited for quantitative data.

If you're unsure, try using ChatGPT. Type in the type of information you want to share and ask what the best visual model is to represent this data.

This is something that will take you a bit of extra time, but I promise you it will yield results. It will impact the way you're perceived as a leader and it help others see you as strategic.

Seems pretty worth it to me!

Until next time friends… ✌️💜