Visual communication – Fiona Passantino

WBII write-up – 26 January 2017

What do Perseus, Zeus and Medusa have to do with international finance? Very little, you would think. If you were at the WBII’s monthly networking event in January, you will know better. In her fascinating talk, Fiona Passantino literally mesmerised us (I looked around, people really were engrossed) with the story of Perseus, son of Zeus, who was sent on a mission to bring back the head of Medusa, the monster who turns all who gaze at her to stone. With a Zeus’ sword, Perseus defeats Medusa and returns home triumphantly. Fiona’s story was accompanied by appropriate pictograms and one-line comments which just hinted at the link between her story and what she was actually talking about.

Because what she was actually talking about was how to make your story, your pitch¸ your explanation of what you do, come alive for your audience. And creating a picture that stimulates the imagination, that draws in your audience and enables them to relate what you are saying to their own reality, is the best way to ensure that people understand your message and remember it. I for one will not forget the ‘picture’ Fiona created to explain micro-finance: Mustafa who borrows € 20 to buy a sewing machine so that he can start his own tailoring business, make money for his family and pay back his loan. Her pictograms were simple – a human figure, a sewing machine and a € sign

-but with her words to back them up, they were clear. Certainly much clearer than pie charts or percentage tables showing repayment percentages would have been.

But how exactly do you tell a story that sticks, that uses images and words to bring your story alive? Fiona used her story-telling skills and her imagery to share her story. She gave us 10 points on how to make our story visual:

Go big – every story has an element of the mythical (Perseus the hero = you the business woman; Medusa the impediment = your goal for the day;

the sword as a tool = how you do what you do).

Go small – tell a personal story (Mustafa and his sewing machine; why your business is important to you).

 

The text is you – you tell your story, don’t try to use reams of text in a power point to tell it for you.

 

Shorten your story – most listeners will remember 20% of what you say, so once you’ve got your text down as short as it can possibly be, cut it in half!

 

Use metaphors – they clear the fog from our understanding and help us understand a difficult subject.

 

  One visual expresses one idea – don’t over complicate your message by trying to tell the whole thing at once.

 

Get personal – share personal stories, talk about you. Your audience will be able to see themselves in your story (and we all like stories about ourselves!)

 

Educate – the best stories teach us something. Tell the story behind your product, don’t simply try to sell it.

 

Love what you do!

 

 

I will not forget Fiona’s story, she brought it alive, made it relevant to me but also set it in a broader context. As entrepreneurs we have to ‘sell ‘ ourselves and for Fiona the ‘ourselves’ is more important than the ‘sell’. With her 10 points, she has given us the tools to do this.

Written by Jane Pocock (Write it Right)

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