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Unlocking the Power of Visual Storytelling in Change Management: A Guide for Change Leaders

Have you ever noticed how some business leaders seem to have a natural gift for storytelling? They can captivate an audience and bring a topic to life in a way that leaves a lasting impression.

It's no coincidence that storytelling is an essential skill for change leaders. As author Annette Simmons said: "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the people to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea." 

In change, storytelling is how we teach people to look beyond the business case, plan, or benefits. Instead, we create an image in their mind of the journey and let them imagine what the future may look like for them.

Earlier today, I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa Jeffery who showed me a fantastic example of using visual communication in change management – such a simple but handy tool. Rather than just tell the story, Lisa and her team have painted the picture (with some help from Fuzzy Duck). It reminded me of when I engaged Cara Holland from Graphic Change Ltd to help bring a project to life...with a 10ft mural. 

Then this evening, I sat down with my two-year-old daughter to read "Maggie and Rainbow the Unicorn" for the eighth consecutive night. It made me realise that visual communication in business is the grown-up version of the bedtime story. It's how we bring ideas to life and connect with our audience emotionally.

In today's fast-paced business world, change leaders must be able to communicate complex ideas quickly and effectively to engage stakeholders and build trust. That's where visual communication comes in. I thought I'd share five tips for using visual communication to make change initiatives more engaging and effective:

Define your message: 

Before you start creating visuals, please make sure to define your message. What do you want to convey? Who is your audience, and what are their needs and expectations? Once you have a clear message, you can create visuals that support it and resonate with your audience.

Humanise the story: 

Metaphors and analogies are powerful tools for engaging your audience and making your message memorable. Use them to create a connection with your audience and help them understand complex ideas. However, all great stories have characters, so create these in the image of your customers, colleagues, business partners etc.

Keep it simple: 

Complex visuals can be confusing and distract from your message. Lisa and the team at United Utilities did a great job here; as someone with no in-depth understanding of Developer Services or Meetering in the water industry, I could immediately understand the content. It is easy to overengineer these things, so focus on balancing conveying the message with something people can understand at a glance. 

Make it accessible: 

Different people respond to different mediums, so make sure your visuals are accessible to all colleagues. Consider using a variety of formats, such as videos, infographics, or interactive presentations, to engage your audience and prevent fatigue. Also, it is essential that you make these accessible to everyone - consider those who may need a little extra assistance to understand the imagery. Here at Rullion we use Recite Me.

Consistency is key: 

Use consistent visuals throughout your programme to create a lasting impression. You should consider tying a brand toolkit that reflects your visual style and use it consistently in all your internal communications. This makes sense of identity for the programme and strengthens the community for all those involved. 


In summary, visual communication is a powerful tool for change leaders who want to engage stakeholders and build trust. Visual communication to tell stories and create emotional connections can make change management more effective and engaging. 


Right...I am off to find my sketchbook.


Interested in using visual communication as part of your change management process? Talk to the team today using the team below.





About the Author

I'm Head of Technology Specialisms at Rullion, with over a decades' worth of experience within staffing.