May 03, 2022

Visual Storytelling

How visual storytelling can benefit Agile practitioners

For those who are already aware of the four Agile values, it is not new that the first one mentions individuals and interaction over processes and tools”. To have efficient production, Agile teams are always searching for better ways to make ideas as understandable as possible for all. That’s when visual storytelling can bring a lot of benefits, as its main goal is to help translate complex ideas into memorable messages.


But first, let’s define Agile methodology for the ones who fell into this blog post and somehow got interested in it.


Agile methodology

It all started when 17 software developers decided to meet in 2001 to create and publish the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. It happened after a decade of criticism and reactions to methods often described as overly regulated, planned, and micromanaged.


The idea was to create a methodology that could be more adaptable to change, to the constant demands of the clients or users, and to have better communication between the team members and also with all the other stakeholders.


The Agile values are:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan


Why visual storytelling?

Visual storytelling is a practice that creates narratives through drawings, signs, designed flows, and highlighted words and sentences to catch the attention of the audience and make them better understand the message. It has been broadly used by Designers and Communication and Marketing professionals. But it’s been recently popularized by team facilitators and coaches, Human Resources professionals, project managers, and business developers.


The best reason to start using visual storytelling is that it is a more brain-friendly practice. For instance, visually following complex ideas and concepts through drawings, characters with feelings, and a journey can be much more memorable and fixed in our brains than the use of bullet points and big paragraphs.


Another important advantage, and one that is making visual storytelling more and more popular - especially in corporate landscapes - is that it drastically lowers the anxiety and stress of communications. The world is facing complex times, and organizations are already seeing the benefits of using visual practices and tools to keep interactions lighter.


How to start using visual storytelling together with Agile

In Agile teams, interactions are very important and visual storytelling can easily become a practice. It can be used in feedback or brainstorming meetings, training and facilitation, inside presentations, or in live-made murals through sketchnoting.


Visuals can also be used in emails, collaboration tools, and even in some video conference tools which offer shared murals to draw.


Keeping it simple

The start is obvious: the first thing you need to do is to draw the message you want to pass. You don’t need to be an artist for that, in fact, keeping it as simple as possible is the best way to begin.


To be effective with visual storytelling, you can:

  • create a catchy title and highlight selected words
  • invent a character and put some drama to evoke the feelings you want from your audience
  • include the story’s context with a defined place and time
  • help your audience find their way through the use of arrows, numbers, and other symbols
  • separate your key ideas through blocks, colors, and frames to create patterns. That is what the brain looks for in visuals.


And to help you even more to start using visual storytelling, we have a free e-book for you: “From an idea to a compelling story in 7 steps”

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