The Drawing Effect – Pictures just work



It seems to be a given that pictures have a better recognition rate than written words. With ~75% of our cognition system dedicated to vision, this is not hard to understand.
This phenomenon has a name – the “Picture Superior Effect.”
That’s important especially when we think about how we work and present our work to other people.

Even more interesting is the outcome of a scientific study from 2016, “The drawing effect: Evidence for reliable and robust memory benefits in free recall” by Jeffrey D. Wammes, Melissa E. Meade, and Myra A. Fernandes.


The drawing effect

They proved that if you draw something you remember it better – even under time pressure. The researchers call this the "Drawing Effect." They were able to prove, that drawing enhances the memory effect as well for people who consider themselves as not being able to draw. 

Furthermore, they found, that even when it takes a bit longer to draw something and if you use that time to write down the thing you want to remember repeatedly, a drawing will get you better results!

That’s an important point here. Let’a face it. Drawing often needs more time than just writing things down. But if you take your time, you will benefit in the long term.


Multiple benefits for workshops


I would argue this is not only true for study and learning environments.

Think of a workshop situation for example. You work with your breakout-group for one, two or three days on a concept or an idea. And you want to share that back to the whole group.

I saw so many people struggling remembering details or important connections within their ideas while presenting during a workshop. You could overcome this by using the Visual Tool “Drawing” while you’re working.

And of course, you’ll save time if you make use of the Picture Superior Effect! Because everybody will take a shorter time to understand what you want to say then if you would use just words to present!

Overall it will help you communicate better!


Perfect for long-term goals


I’ve got one last learning point here. Let’s imagine you’re working on your long term goals. Not only will you remember your goals better over the long term when you draw them out. You will as well be able to communicate them better to others – or to yourself after six months when you lost your goals out of sight.


How’s that? Isn’t that uplifting? All the possibilities opening up just by taking a pen in hand? When was the last time you tried it for yourself? How could you benefit from the drawing effect?





Holger is writing about his thoughts on how to create strategic clarity with visual tools. Especially with a focus on how we can work better together to solve our business challenges. As a Strategy Facilitator, he helps teams and leaders solving their strategic problems.
In his workshops and training, he has taught his approach to thousands of people. If you're interested, check out the next dates for his workshops or reach out to him directly.




Don't miss the next article!

Join my mailing list to receive my latest articles on Visual Thinking, Facilitation Visual Clarity and Visual Tools right into your inbox.


50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.