Why use visuals to spark conversation?

What happens when you use visuals to spark conversation? As the facilitator, there is energy in the room. People are engaged. When people select photos in response to a question or statement, they select things that are meaningful to them.

They tell stories. Stories about what is important to them. Stories about how the world looks through their eyes. Often these stories are full of passion.

Creative Energy
Photograph © Tom Tiernan

So what, people tell stories if you ask them questions without pictures. Yes, and they seem to tell a different kind of story. Perhaps one that is more familiar, perhaps rehearsed, perhaps one that is told over and over without thinking much.

Pictures, photographs, visuals of all kinds evoke some of the same story, but add the chance of seeing it in new ways. The subconscious, the unconscious, the unintentional but relevant.

Visuals can capture and express the relationships between various aspects. The brain processes pictures differently, responds more holistically. In places where the linear and structure is celebrated (like so many academic and business institutions), visuals can speak that which is unspoken in words. Those whose voices get missed or are often left unheard can come forward when sparking conversations with photographs.

Working with images is fun, for the participants as well as the facilitator. Pictures speak to our creativity, engage the imagination.

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