Blah Blah Blah: What To Do When Words Don't Work by Dan Roam - Book review

Blah Blah Blah

What To Do When Words Don't Work

By: Dan Roam

Published: November 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
ISBN-10: 1591844592
ISBN-13: 978-1591844594
Publisher: Portfolio/Penguin

"We think that thinking means stringing words together in meaningful ways. We think that talking is the best way to share an idea. We think that speaking well is the cornerstone of intelligence. We're only half right", writes blogger, management consultant and best selling author Dan Roam, in his empowering and transformational book Blah Blah Blah: What To Do When Words Don't Work. The author describes how the spoken word is misused and abused in everyday conversation and business communication, and provides an alternative form of vivid thinking through pictures to express ideas clearly.

Dan Roam understands that verbal communication results in misunderstanding, unnecessary complexity, and even boredom for the listener. Instead of clarity and ideas being shared and understood by everyone, the result is all too often one where words mislead or confuse rather than clarify the concept. The author calls this lack of understanding blah blah blah, as that is all that the speaker offers to the listener. To counter this loss of communication and clarity, Dan Roam proposes what he calls vivid thinking where pictures accompany the words, to illustrate the ideas more clearly. For the author, the more words that are used, the lower the level of understanding that results for the listener.

Dan Roam (photo left) provides compelling evidence that an infusion of pictures and drawings add interest to a presentation that reduces boredom, removes complexity, and lowers the possibility of misunderstanding. Dan Roam describes, and of course illustrates with simple and easy to comprehend drawings, how combining visual aids with words increases understanding dramatically. The failure to communicate effectively, and the resulting blah blah blah can be repaired effectively with the use of drawings to bring about vivid thinking.

To describe how ideas become more clear, through vivid thinking, Dan Roam shares the following steps:

* The Vivid F-O-R-E-S-T: The six essentials of vivid ideas
* F is for Form: Vivid ideas have shape
* O is for Only the Essentials: Vivid ideas fit in a nutshell
* R is for Recognizable: Vivid ideas look familiar
* E is for Evolving: Vivid ideas are complete but not over done
* S is for Span Differences: Vivid ideas include their opposite
* T is for Targeted: Vivid ideas matter to me

For me, the power of the book is how Dan Roam demonstrates clearly how ideas require both visual and verbal explanation and communication techniques for effectiveness. The author provides compelling evidence that people talk so much that the amount of thinking is actually lowered for both the speaker and the audience. Words are simply not powerful enough to convey ideas effectively for everyone in all situations. Even though words are the standard thinking tool, they are only able to perform half of the job of effective communications.

Dan Roam provides the powerful solution of combining words with easily understood pictures, creating a fresh clarity, that overcomes that sense of blah blah blah. Instead of obscuring and even hiding the true meaning of the words, pictures bring out the ideas in a form that everyone can understand with ease. When words fail the speaker, vivid thinking is the ideal solution to prevent misunderstanding on the part of everyone involved in the process.

I highly recommend the refreshing and engaging book Blah Blah Blah: What To Do When Words Don't Work by Dan Roam, to anyone seeking a straight talking and profusely illustrated guide to giving more effective and better understood presentations. Instead of experiencing the blah blah blah factor, your ideas will be well received and welcomed by your listeners.

Tags: , , ,