If you’re noticing more diagrams than ever before online and in the workplace, it’s because they work!

Studies show that when text is combined with shapes and images people are more likely to take notice. They are more likely to remember the information presented to them, too.

Here are four ways diagrams give you visual information super-powers that help you grab–and keep–your audience’s attention

1. Diagrams simplify complex information.

Diagrams condense material down to it’s most essential elements, focusing on the needs of the audience.

A diagram can be understood at a glance, so it’s a great solution if you’re trying to get your message in front of busy people. Your stakeholder might not have time to read through a whitepaper or a long memo, but a diagram is another story.

And it’s a whole lot easier to go back to a diagram to find information you’ve forgotten. A quick scan of a well-designed diagram beats re-reading long blocks of text any day!

2. Diagrams organize your thoughts.

Once it’s finished, your diagram will convey information to your audience, but it also has a secret side benefit—

You can formulate your ideas as you work on your diagram.  

And you are far more likely to spot patterns or missing information that you might otherwise miss if you were drawing up a list or writing a document.

That’s why diagramming is the smart organize your thoughts as you prepare for your next presentation.

And in the end, you have a handy tool that helps you get your point across clearly.

3. Diagrams break you out of conventional thinking.

Some problems are too ambiguous and complex to be conveyed in a memo or white paper, but diagrams overcome the limits of language.

If you find yourself explaining processes that don’t move from Point A to Point B but instead go from A to C and Y, then words alone just aren’t going to cut it.

And diagrams go a step further by introducing connectors that pull everything together in a pictorial way that our brains process more quickly than text alone.

Not all ideas can be conveyed in a linear way. And you shouldn’t limit your audience’s understanding to bulleted lists of blocks of text.

4. Diagrams help you retain more information.

Studies show that we’re much better at remembering a picture rather than text. In fact, using diagrams results in performance improvements from 23% to 89%.

The combination of shapes and text together, such as you might see in a typical flow chart, is the most effective way to get your audience to remember the information you want them to know.

The staggering flow of information available to us in the 21st Century is enough to overwhelm the smartest of us. There’s only so much we can read, and there’s even less that we can remember once we’ve read it.

Fortunately, diagrams can help even mere mortals make sense of it all.