Make Your Zoom Meetings More Engaging with This Mighty Methodology

It’s like clockwork. Three minutes into any phone conversation, my 90-year-old father cheerfully proclaims, “I’m all talked out.” And he’s out.

You might be feeling the same about Zoom meetings these days. All zoomed out.

We get it.

What if there was a scientifically proven practice that could breathe new life into your Zoom meetings—and do much, much more?

I’m talking about visual thinking, a powerful skill that taps into our deepest biological capability for understanding.

If you’re new to visual thinking—or simply curious as to how it can serve you and your organization—XPLANE offers many excellent posts describing what visual thinking is all about.

In short, it’s a highly engaging skill that packs a punch.

What’s so great about visual thinking?

Visual thinking is the ultimate overachiever.

It can improve communication, create alignment, address process improvement challenges, and enhance learning.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Visual thinking is particularly powerful when used to:

03_XPL_Blog_VTB_Icons_Drive Convos DecisionsDrive conversations and decisions

03_XPL_Blog_VTB_Icons_Ideate ExploreIdeate / explore possibilities

03_XPL_Blog_VTB_Icons_Clarify Comm IdeasClarify and communicate ideas

How do people “learn” visual thinking?

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In the days before COVID, XPLANE offered immersive one- or two-day in-person bootcamps to teach visual thinking techniques and methodology to people around the world.

Led by an expert visual facilitator, these bootcamps included real-life advice, examples, and demos about how to leverage the power of visual thinking.

Since COVID, like everyone else, XPLANE has had to do the pandemic pivot and is now offering Virtual Visual Thinking Bootcamps, which are much the same as the in-person bootcamps.

Using Zoom and MURAL, a cool online collaboration tool, XPLANE conducts the workshops in much shorter segments (think two hours across multiple days).

The pluses? No travel required. You can wear a t-shirt and sweatpants if you like. You’ll meet great people.

Best of all, you’ll walk away with a skill set that can change the way you approach problems, communicate, facilitate, and lead.

What’s it like to attend a Visual Thinking Bootcamp?

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An unusual but irresistible assignment brought me to my first Visual Thinking Bootcamp.

A Portland-based freelance writer, I was asked to attend a two-day bootcamp and share my experience.

So on a couple drizzly Oregon days last fall, I joined visual thinking newbies and masters alike to explore the uncanny power of visual thinking to unlock our deepest knowledge of the world around us and the wisdom within us—not to mention the magic of collaborating with some darn talented folks.

The experience was incredibly fun and illuminating.

What can you do with visual thinking? 

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As someone who deals with words, I had little exposure to communicating through visuals—yet I found visual thinking could help me approach storytelling in wonderful new ways.

I’ll confess I’ve always despised the practice of writing outlines. Those bleak linear lines of logic so essential to my craft make me want to run screaming for the hills.

Bootcamp got me thinking, What if I drew out elements of a story?

This turned out to be far more fun, inspiring, and memorable than words on ledger paper. You can thank my new friend, dual encoding, for that.

How does visual thinking change group dynamics?

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Visual thinking draws people together, creates synergy, breaks down boundaries, and cements collaboration.

At bootcamp, I watched perfect strangers quickly bond through the language of visual thinking. People were immediately engaged when drawing and seemed less inhibited when sharing.

Just one hour into bootcamp, folks were exchanging ideas about how to draw an object, admiring one another’s work, and encouraging each other.

Someone at our table asked, “Are we starting to share a similar language?” We nodded in agreement, noting how visual thinking creates alignment and clarity.

Think of what this could achieve in the workplace.

Who attends Visual Thinking Bootcamps?

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At bootcamp, I was sure I’d be an outsider among “real professionals,” but I was wrong.

From teachers to team leaders, artists to engineers, project managers to facilitators, visual thinking bootcamps attract a wide array of people.

In my group alone were folks from across the country, as well as from Canada and Spain, all there to learn how visual thinking could make their workplaces and worlds better:

  • psychologist from Edmonton who uses visual thinking in her own workshops to get conversations flowing.
  • municipal group facilitator who uses visual thinking to get people unstuck and move them past challenges.
  • website development project manager who uses visual thinking to clarify intangible or nebulous ideas.
  • An engineer from Louisville who wants to use visual thinking to bridge gaps between her multinational company’s teams to streamline operations.
  • risk manager looking for a way to simplify and present complex risk management concepts.

Can anyone be a visual thinker?

You don’t need to be a gifted artist to be a visual thinker—you only need to be open to new ways of doing things and be willing to practice and apply what you learn.

Visual thinking is a universal language that everyone can learn and everyone can read, a language that the human brain is hardwired to understand.

09 XPL_Blog_VTB_Anyone VT_r03In these days when everyone seems “zoomed out,” visual thinking can renew your team’s energy and get them “zoomed in” on solving problems and getting great ideas off the ground.

Want to learn more?

Interested in giving visual thinking a try? XPLANE invites you to check out their events page to learn more about upcoming virtual Visual Thinking Bootcamp offerings where you and your team can develop important visual thinking skills.

Want to take a deeper dive into the topic? Peruse XPLANE’s visual thinking blog posts.

Want to see examples of visual thinking? Download XPLANE’s popular visual thinking sketch notes eBook.

Finally, if you have thoughts to share or questions about visual thinking, get in touch with XPLANE—they’d love to hear from you.

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May 28, 2020
Caley Barstow