A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

By Joryn Jenkins

Leonardo da Vinci opined that a poet would be “overcome by sleep and hunger before [being able to] describe with words what a painter is able to [depict] in an instant.”

There’s a reason this idiom’s been around forever. Haven’t we all described a place or an event, and, after trying to convey the emotion, the wonder, the beauty we experienced, we finally shrug and say, “You’d have to see it to believe it”?

Everyone knows that a complex and confusing idea can often be expressed by a single still image, which conveys its essence more effectively and rapidly, and sometimes more vividly and clearly, than a verbal description ever could. Everyone processes visuals 60,000 times faster than they do words. Add that 65% of us are visual learners, not verbal, and it’s no wonder that images draw the eye far more readily than do words, and videos draw the attention far more readily than do still images.

So What?

“The poster, as a means of scholarly work, is a viable and essential activity, as interdisciplinary collaboration and sharing of best practice becomes the expectation for all professional development.” This National Library of Medicine quote is from a piece aimed at advanced practice nurses, but it is no less true when applied to all collaborative divorce practice.

Give Me An Example

How much easier is it to understand how to put a piece of furniture together by looking at the illustrations than by reading paragraphs of instructions? I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to attach the band to my new watch, so I watched a video on YouTube, rather than reading the manual that came with it.

I was in a consultation with a couple planning their divorce. It was easy to tell that she was the one who had asked for the parting of the ways. She had done her homework, researched their options, called our office, and made the appointment.

An English teacher, she sat upright in her chair, taking notes. He was in construction. He looked sulky and, although seated next to her (across from me) at the conference table, had slouched and spread out, legs carelessly splayed, beyond his seat.

He said nothing, outside of “Hello,” and his body language put me off. I was careful to follow the script I had purposely laid out in my posters, which were organized on the long wall behind me. As I stood and reviewed what the posters demonstrated about the various choices of process that can lead the clients to a final judgment, his scowl deepened and, I thought, darkened. Although she was nodding and asking questions, I began to anticipate an explosion.

Suddenly, his face lit up. The sudden shift was startling. “I get it!” He explained, “My wife is all about words but I’m a visual guy. Your posters are for people like me!

I had seen the light bulb go on above his head.

Posters Work For You

Think of your posters as additional employees. They work for free and they work when you’re not in the room. We purposely seat first-time consults facing the wall of posters created for consultations, which are brightly colored to attract their eyes. By the time I enter the room, I’ve purposely given them five minutes alone with the posters. They’re now ready to hone the basics they’ve already gleaned about the divorce process choices and the costs, the two most salient posters for their decision making about how to move forward.

If they came alone, they always take handheld copies of those posters home, to help them explain the divorce choices and relative costs to their spouses.

What Is Your Poster?

What is the most common question your clients ask? Can you depict the answers to that question in a visual form? That’s a poster.

What concept do you explain repeatedly in your practice? Which concept is most difficult to express? What is the most common metaphor or simile you employ to convey that concept? Can you depict that metaphor visually? That’s a poster.

What values do you most admire and employ in your practice? How do you convey those values to your employees? To your clients? Can you depict them visually? That’s a poster.

What are the most common tips you repeat, time and time again? What are the errors your clients make most often? Those are both posters, too.

Rules for Creating Posters

An effective poster will provide its viewers with key information, answer their questions, and provide you with the opportunity to share additional personalized information through meaningful dialogue with your client.

It should spark ideas among their viewers, whether they are to be your clients or other professionals with whom you might collaborate. It should perform the work for you that you repeat with multiple clients, allowing you to leap ahead in your discussions.

Content and layout, use of color, imagery, and positive and negative space are crucial design elements. Create compelling and esthetically pleasing titles, text, and graphics. Use your brand colors and fonts.


Ms. English and Mr. Construction chose the collaborative process for their divorce.

For more on how to practice collaboratively and successfully, and on how to profitably market your practice, reach out to me at Joryn@JorynJenkins.com or find me at Your Collaborative Marketing Coach, because your marketing is my marketing! And if you’d like to learn more about how to become a Collaborative Champion or a Legal Influencer, buy my toolkit or attend my training!

Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, 2 of which she served as a professor of law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen Award, an honor bestowed upon those who have provided exceptional leadership to The American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.

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