Book: Blah Blah Blah: What to do when words don’t work by Dan Roam
Publication date: 2011
Pages: 350 — with lots of pictures and white space
Summary: Blah Blah Blah teaches us to use our whole mind:
For thirty thousand years, humans have been making marks on walls (then on paper, and more recently on tough screens) to reflect our thoughts. For twenty-five thousand of those years, we drew pictures. Only in the past five thousand did we begin the gradual shift to writing words. The problem is that now we’ve gone too far. As we’ve become increasingly enamored of and reliant upon words, our verbal minds have become heavier and heavier, while our visual minds have gotten lighter and lighter. The balance has shifted so subtly that we didn’t even notice it. But now that we found our selves facing some of the most difficult challenges of all time, we suddenly realize–oops!–that we’ve lost half our mind. (p. 75)
The first part of Blah Blah Blah describes how our minds can be hijacked or seduced by words, causing us to buy into messages that have no substance. Pictures help us see the absence, identify the hole. If we’re using our whole mind we are less easily duped.
The other two parts of Blah Blah Blah offer tools to help us make our messages clearer to the world, by drawing pictures as well as saying or writing words.
Thoughts: I know what you’re thinking: “I can’t draw.” It doesn’t matter. People are so impressed that you do draw that they don’t seem to notice that you can’t. Stick figures and smiley faces can express all the human emotions and activities you’ll need to convey an idea. When you need something a little more detailed, check out Google Images. Type in the name of the object and add the word ‘drawing.’ You’ll see many examples to choose from. Sometimes, there will even be a You Tube video like this one about how to draw a hot air balloon:
I was reading this book while preparing to run a meeting earlier this month. I used a series of drawings as a tool to help me bring the whole group up to speed on our history. I knew we’d have new people, but I also knew that we had people who not only lived the history but have heard me tell it two or three times. With a picture, I was able to run through it quickly for the new folks and make it a little different for the people who had heard it all before.
Appeal: Blah Blah Blah is not just a book about how to communicate better, it’s a book about how to think better. I’m going to buy this book in print because I can use the tools over and over again in all kinds of ways. I want you to buy it, too, so that we’re all better at creating and conveying our ideas. That’s a huge step in getting them implemented. We need all the ideas that we can get right now.