Storytelling without words—why Foglifters work

Foglifter® is the term we use at ThoughtForm to describe a visual explanation of complex topics.

Foglifters use a lively visual language to explain new products, services, business models, and business strategies far more effectively than words alone can. The best Foglifters are visual models that contain all the elements of a story. By using a visual model to take the audience on a tour of the subject matter, you can address all the ideas that make up the story. Because the message is visible, it’s engaging, clear, and easier to remember.

Here are why Foglifters work:

1. People pay attention to images. Pictures are hard to ignore, so there’s a better chance that you can attract and hold the attention of your audience when you make a message visible.

2. Pictures are approachable, not intimidating.

3. People understand images. You, and everyone you know, have astonishing visual literacy that makes it easy to decode all kinds of pictures—recognizing patterns, seeing connections, and interpreting details.

4. Decoding an image requires the audience to actively participate in building meaning. That engagement with your story is priceless.

5. Presenting information visually fosters simplicity. It’s impossible to include all the minutiae associated with a topic. Instead, making a message visible calls for careful thinking about what parts of the story are most important. Anything that encourages a communicator to focus on what’s really important and eliminate what’s unnecessary is a good thing.

6. Making elements visible makes the story concrete. It’s still possible to deal with abstractions and invisible elements, but in the visual model they must become tangible. If, for example, inflation is an important factor in the story, then somehow the audience has to be able to see inflation.

7. Visual models can have “magic vision.” Size, time, and distance can all be compressed or expanded if that helps make the message clear. Magic vision allows objects to defy gravity by hovering in space, become transparent to reveal hidden details, and accommodate coding, such as color, to indicate significant relationships.

Next time you have a complex story that you really need the audience to understand—skip the 70-slide presentation and leave the 10-page memo behind. Try a Foglifter!