Visual Storytelling

A curious horse looks through the bar window of a front door, a little down from above, out of the sunny garden in Jutland into the house. Recorded in 2017.

There’s a Horse Outside the Door

A picture says more than a thousand words. In a project, communication is as important as the air we breathe. It is therefore an important task of the project manager to pave the way for clear and effective communication between the stakeholders. Stakeholders are all actors affected by the project. In addition to the oral votes, the written word is usually used for the exchange within the project. Printed written language, like this text, has the advantage of overcoming space and time. A collaborator in the project can also read this article in a different place and at a different time. To write is also good at conveying abstract thinking. But it is not the best one to get the content quickly and to create feelings. This curious look of the horse through the bar window of the door, a little down from above, from the sunny garden to the viewer is harder to convey with words than with the picture.


The magic triangle in the project has three sides. One side is time. When does the project start and when is it finished? The second side is the cost. And the third side is scope and quality. What should be the result of the project and what quality should it have? A change to one of the three pages automatically leads to a change to the other pages. An example of this. If there is a problem with the deadline and the costs are capped, then the delivery items or its quality must be compromised.

But back to the written word, which only reaches the communication receiver when it is read. Usually reading works by capturing an entire word. Only when we learn to read we read each letter individually and put them together as a word. Later, when we are more experienced, we capture words as a whole (Graham Rawlinson, University of Nottingham, 1976, The significance of letter position in word recognition). To the right is an example. The letters in the words were scrambled. Only the first and last letter of a word remain in their place. Although many letters in the word are wrong, most readers can decode the text.

If it is too difficult, please click on “Reset”. Or enter your own text and then scramble it yourself.

“Once upon a time …”, „Es war einmal …” or「ある日の…… 」

People need stories. As children, we are obsessed to hear stories. However stories start, we prefer to hear good stories rather than endless lists of facts in a PowerPoint presentation. In the project, the project manager can use storytelling to illustrate complex interrelationships. Or she uses the form of the heroic story to convince others of her project. She can win participants more easily than with rational arguments. An emotional story inspires and releases powers.

Visual Storytelling

Visual storytelling now combines the power of images with telling good stories from storytelling. Through social networks, photos and videos are ubiquitous. The number of images in newspapers is increasing. And visual communication with pictures and videos is also increasing in everyday working life.

One example is the Project Model Canvas (PMC) project management tool. The project manager works out a common understanding of the project with her colleagues and uses this visualization in her further communication.

Mobile Only

Finally, a sample picture. The project manager can of course write a lot of text about the change from “mobile first” to “mobile only”. But what about this Tokyo subway picture? All passengers are looking so intensively into their mobile phones that they do not even notice that they are being photographed. Doesn’t convince this picture more than 1,000 words?

In der U-Bahn in Tokyo  

logo ProjektMagazin Inspired by Petra Sammers German article „Visuelles Storytelling – Nutzen Sie die Macht der Bilder!“ from German project management portal ProjektMagazin.

openPM logo Project Model Canvas example taken over unchanged from openPM „Entwicklung einer PM-Canvas“, under the Creative Commons License CC BY 3.0.