A guaranteed way to get your team drawing, fast!

I was in Texas last week. I lead a multinational financial services company through my half-day visual training seminar. They loved it, and asked how they might quickly get colleagues around the world to start drawing more.

I suggested a quick visual exercise I call, “The Double-Venn Drill.” It goes like this:

The Double-Venn Drill
This is a very good introduction to getting people to put pen to paper, and has zero intimidation factor.

The Objective: Get people comfortable with the idea of drawing out their thinking using simple shapes, and then using that drawing as a conversation starter.

The Benefit: Easy to do in 5 minutes, minimal training or set-up required, serves as a great visual ice-breaker, gets people ready for more complex visualizations.

The Double-Venn Drill


  1. Hand out sheets of paper and pens.
  2. Ask people to fold their sheet in half, then open it up, to create two equal panels (left and right).
  3. On the left side, ask people to draw three intersecting circles, then label them with the three most important things they do at work.
  4. Give them two minutes.
  5. When panel one is complete, ask people to draw three more intersecting circles on the right side, and label them with the three most important things they do in their personal lives, outside of work.
  6. Give two more minutes.
  7. Ask people to share their diagrams, explaining what they show — both professional and personal.

I’ve used this quick exercise as a starting point in my seminar for years. It is always a fun way to get the day started.

Give it a try at your next team offsite! (And let me know how it goes.)



10 years, 10 commandments, 10,000 drawings: my new book is coming next week!

I was recently struck by three intersecting data points about information and pictures: 

90 percent

  1. IBM says 90% of all data has been generated in the past two years.
  2. Cisco says 90% of all online information is visual.
  3. Amazon says that the fastest-growing sales segment is adult coloring books.

What do these three have in common? Simple: more than ever before, the world is visual. To make sense of the world, people need pictures. What does this mean to me and you? If you want to be in today’s conversation, you need to be visual, too.

people love pictures

It’s been ten years since I started writing The Back of the Napkin, beginning a small revolution in business visualization. Since that time, I’ve delivered 700 speeches, classes, and projects to 180 clients, creating almost 10,000 drawings. Along the way, I’ve learned a few things:

  • People love pictures, and the simplest pictures work the best.
  • With 3 minutes practice, anyone can draw.
  • Whoever draws the clearest picture wins.

Now, I want to share everything I’ve learned with you. So I wrote a new book. It’s called, DRAW to WIN. It’s ten short chapters long. Each chapter introduces and explains one of the Ten Commandments of pictures: why you need to be visual, how to draw your ideas quickly, and what pictures work best in different situations.

It really comes down to this:

  • If you want to lead, you should draw more.
  • If you want to sell, you must draw more.
  • If you want to innovate, just draw faster.

If you want to be in today’s conversation, you need to be visual. DRAW to WIN shows you how. Line-by-line. I look forward to seeing your drawings,

- Dan

Dan Roam's DRAW to WIN: coming Sept 13, 2016

DRAW to WIN comes out on September 13, but you can see advance reviews and pre-order now:



Join me this summer in San Francisco — and draw to win.

My favorite event of the summer is when I get to book a beautiful space in San Francisco and invite fifty visual-thinkers to join me for two full days of intensive visual training. It’s engaging, it’s eye-opening, it’s strategic, it’s a lot of fun — and I’d love it for you to come. 


So please join me Aug 15-16, 2016 at the gorgeous Golden Gate Club overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge as we dive into my brand new book, Draw to Win. (The book won’t officially be available from Penguin/Random House until Sept. 15, so you’ll be the first to get a copy — one month ahead of everyone else!)

Get your advance copy of "Draw to Win"

I love this seminar because it is the real deal for intensive hands-on lessons in the art and science of visual problem-solving. We work through real-world case studies, we work through your challenges, and we do it in-person. Everybody has a chance to share, help, draw, think, and laugh.

This is what last year’s sold-out event looked like:


Here’s the agenda:

Day One [Aug 15]

  • Why you must use pictures in business.
  • How vision actually works.
  • How to draw anything in 3 minutes flat.
  • How to solve problems using your visual mind.

Day Two [Aug 16]

  • How to sell ideas, products, & services using pictures.
  • How to use pictures to tell your own truth.
  • How to draw to win. (Win business, win influence, win the day; whatever “win” means to you, that’s what drawing will help you do.)

Pictures are our best tool for leadership, sales, training, communications, and problem-solving. Over the past 10 years, I’ve personally trained thousands of professionals like you to become master visual-thinkers. Now I’d like to invite you to join me in San Francisco for my full two-day training conference. Discover for yourself the problem-solving power of your own visual mind. This is your chance to experience the same training I’ve delivered at Microsoft, Google, Boeing, Gap, Siemens, Philips, the United States Senate, and the White House.

Here are the details:

When: August 15-16, 2016.

Where: The Golden Gate Club in the Presidio of San Francisco.

Cost: EARLY-BIRD pricing now through June 15, 2016!

This two-day workshop normally costs $1,595, but if you register before June 15, you’ll save $300 off.
Register now and save $300! (Only $1,295 through June 15, 2016)

golden gate club

This course consistently ranks as the BEST COURSE offered at corporate training programs across the country. This is the same full course I have lead at Microsoft, Stanford, Boeing, Deloitte, Lucasfilm, the US Navy, the US Senate, and the White House Office of Communications.

Here’s what previous attendees say:

“Well worth my personal investment. Absolutely exceeded my expectations.” – Startup Entrepreneur

“I flat-out loved this conference!” – Project Manager at a Tech Giant

“Your Visual Codex is revolutionary; it will change the way the world communicates.” – CEO

Become a master visual-thinker!

  • Think faster.
  • Communicate more clearly.
  • Solve complex problems.
  • Draw to win.

Drawings and smiles

 Your fee includes:

  • 16 hours of intense, hands-on visual training.
  • Draw to Win pre-release edition book.
  • Personal whiteboard, pen, & erasure.
  • Excellent lunch.
  • True insight, useful tools, & real-world exercises.

Your fee includes: a full day of training, my book, your own whiteboard, lunch.



I discovered something that could change your business: hand-drawn videos


As a fellow visual-thinker, I wanted to share with you an update and special discount on my Udemy.com hand-drawn video course. I launched the course two weeks ago and already have 200 students — and the reviews are great:

“Really empowering! This course makes me feel I can do this too. Everything is explained in detail and with concrete examples. Very inspiring.” 5 Stars

“Short lectures and easy to understand! It is great fun to start making hand-drawn videos just after some lectures.” 5 Stars

“The lessons are great because they are simple and fun. Dan keeps things focused on sharing ideas in a simple way. One of the best courses on Udemy!” 5 Stars

Here’s the backstory: Two years ago, I made a simple discovery which has had an extraordinary impact on my business: hand-drawn videos. Hand-drawn videos are are magnetic to viewers, typically attracting twice the audience of a talking-head video of the same message. And they are easy to make using just PowerPoint and simple screen-recording software. Last year alone, hand-drawn videos added $150,000 to my business revenue!

Hand-drawn whiteboard videos are clear and authentic animations that make your marketing, sales, and educational messages come alive. For cognitive and neuro-mechanical reasons we will explore, these videos are like catnip to the human mind. And the best part is: you can make these videos by yourself using with no previous animation experience and using basic software that you probably already have.

Let me repeat that: with no cameras, no lights, no studio, no on-screen stress, and no hired animators, you can create uniquely powerful and memorable videos that audiences can’t stop watching. 

To share this discovery with the visual-thinking community, I spent last year developing a complete training course that explains every single step required to create these videos using PowerPoint and a simple screen-capture app called Camtasia. I tested and refined the course for six months with 300 students at my napkinacademy.com. And now I’m releasing the course through Udemy.com, just for you.

Today, I’m offering you Lifetime access to the course as a Launch Student for 50% off. (Save $100! Normally this course costs $199, but sign up now and pay only $99.) Be sure to take advantage of this discount while it lasts. (Through October 31, 2015.) Here is where you can get your 50% off discount:


In this course, we’ll be covering:

  • The two pieces of basic software you’ll need to create your own videos.
  • Learn to create your first hand-drawn video in less than four minutes.
  • See how to use the basic animation tools of PowerPoint to visualize your thoughts.
  • Use my video checklist to review your clip before you upload to YouTube (or any other video site).

I put my best teaching to use in this course, so you’ll learn through a combination of video lessons delivered by me, real life examples and case studies, quizzes to check your progress, and plenty of printable supplemental material.

I look forward to seeing you in the course. Feel free to forward this to friends and colleagues who would benefit!

All the best,




Top 3 reasons Apple’s iCar will happen. (Hint: it isn’t about the car.)


Over the past three weeks, more interesting articles have appeared in the business press about Apple’s potential move into the car business than about any other single tech innovation, including the Apple Watch. (Which unlike the car, is a real product with a real launch date.)

Lead initially by a story in the WSJ.com and a quick back-of-the-napkin analysis by @jason, everyone then jumped onto the iCar bandwagon from the Economist to NYT to Bloomberg to the NewYorker … the list goes on.

Business Insider: Why Apple will enter the auto industry.

Business Insider: Why Apple will enter the auto industry.

And that’s a good thing. Why? Because as the chart above shows, just about the only industry left on earth big enough for Apple to disrupt is the auto industry.

As a car-nut, tech-nut, Apple-nut, and business-nut, I decided to pull the pieces together and see if the Apple iCar makes any sense. The result? It does.


Check out my full iCar presentation here on slideshare.net:

The 3 top takeaways:

1) Apple serves to change the world. A watch doesn’t change anything.


2) Apple has the design, outsourcing, technical, and marketing skill to do it.

3) Above all, Apple changes industries, not just technologies.


My take? iCar by 2021.

Available in white, silver, or black.




Our Health Care Napkins pass 2.7 million views!

A FEW YEARS AGO, my doctor friend Tony Jones and I became worried about the health care reform debate. People were bringing guns to town hall meetings, there were fist-fights in the hallways of congress, and it felt like the nation was tearing itself apart.

In the midst of all this, Tony and I agreed that the media wasn’t doing anything to help — in fact, it was the media (left and right alike) that was driving the angst. Rather than providing any explanation of what “Obamacare” was actually about, all they were doing was talking about how ‘divisive’ everything was. (Which in media-speak is just an excuse to air the very worst of human behavior in order to capture eyeballs.)

So we decided to create a simple visual explanation of the ACTUAL LAW. And we did.

And our drawings just passed 2.7 MILLION views on slideshare.net. Wow.

It took 43 simple pictures to do it, but we managed to cover:

  1. The perceived need for health care reform.
  2. The underlying rift between doctors and insurance that drove the problem in the first place.
  3. How big health care spending has become.
  4. The various proposed solutions.

When we were done, I posted our slideshow on slideshare.net. Within weeks it became one of the most viewed presentations on the site. It was picked up by the HuffingtonPost.com, which got me invited on-air by Fox News. That got me invited to present to the White House Office of Communications. A month later, BusinessWeek selected our napkins as “The World’s Greatest Presentation of 2009.”

Without a doubt, those 43 simple drawings were the most influential I’ve ever created.

So here we are 5 years later. Obamacare is law. It was a mess at first, but seems to be working better and attracting members. It remains a central point of political contention in America. The Supreme Court is thinking of debating it again. So around and around we go, again. At least now I feel like I understand it.



The 3 greatest presentation books of all time. (That have nothing to do with presentations)

As we reach the final countdown before the launch of my new book (pre-order Show and Tell now and join me for a secret webinar on April 10), I am reflecting on the many incredible presentation books I have relied on for inspiration, guidance, and reference.

Scanning across the bookshelves in my office (I buy them all on paper because I like to draw in them), it dawns on me that my collection falls into three must-read categories. I’m going to say a few words about the books in the first two categories, then a lot about the last.

1) Must-read books about presentations


2) Must-read books sort-of about presentations


3) Must-read books not at all about presentations
This is the group I really want to talk about, because all these books changed how I think about my life and my presentations. I know that anyone who makes presentations will get value out of these three books, but will never see them in a list of “presentation books.”

So here they are: the three greatest presentation books of all time – that aren’t about presentations.

1) The best book ever written on understanding the machine in our head:
Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

As a presenter, we’ve got a lot of heads we need to think about. First, there is our own: what’s on our mind, what we’d like to share, how nervous we are, etc. Then there all the heads of all those people we’re presenting to: what’s on their minds, what are they willing to listen to, what’s making them wake up or fall asleep.

In reality, being a presenter is more about being an engaging psychologist than it is about being a sage or a teacher or an entertainer. And no one on earth is a more engaging psychologist than Daniel Kahneman. Without even opening his book again, my mind immediately alights on some of these presentation gems:

  • Positive vs negative priming. Want people to enjoy your talk? Say upbeat things. Avoid the negative. Don’t say, “This sucks because…” instead say, “This is lovely because…” Yes, this flies in the face of everything we read in the news, BuzzFeed, Gawker, etc, but that’s precisely the reason we’re so cranky when we read the news: it negatively primes us to expect bad things, and our body physiologically prepares for badness. End of happy presentation, right there.
  • Framing. The way we initially “frame” a comment defines how it will be received and recalled. If we say our team lost the game, we think our team was bad. If we say the other team won the game, we’re still left open to the possibility that our team was great as well. I can think of ten thousand ways to use this when presenting ideas I want people to want to remember.
  • The Two Thinking Modes. As the title of Daniel’s book tells us, our brain breaks thinking down into two modes: one ‘fast’ for getting things done and one ‘slow’ for thinking them through. We shift back and forth between the two modes all the time. Knowing why – and being aware of it – is like someone finally handing us the instruction manual for our mind.

2) The best book ever written on using the machine in our head:
Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

Throughout my life, I’ve worried that my memory wasn’t as reliable as I needed. (Especially a problem when you’ve got a four-hour presentation to give.) In fact, one core element of the stage fright we all feel at times is the fear that we’re going to forget what we wanted to say. Thank you Joshua for letting me know I’m not a flake and even more for showing me how to remember. (And even more, the solution is PICTURES!)

A few highlights:

  • Introducing the Memory Palace. Now all the rage thanks to BBC’s Sherlock, it was Joshua’s book that re-introduced the memory palace to our toolbox of cognitive tricks. The memory palace is the tool that the ancients used to prepare long presentations before the days of PowerPoint. It is the simple process of listing all the things you want to say, then mentally walking through a favorite place (Tuscan palace, vacation spa on the Aegean Sea, olive grove on the hills above Athens) and placing all the “things” in obvious sight. Once it’s time to remember, all you need to do is “walk” through the palace in the mind’s eye, and presto – there are the things you wanted to say.
  • What this means for me: I almost never write more than five words on any presentation slide. Instead, I turn my entire presentation into a visible memory palace. When I see a particular picture, chart, map, sketch, or graphic, I immediately remember (most of) what I wanted to say about it. And if I forget something, nobody notices. Why? Because we’ve all got a nice picture to look at.
  • Seriously, reading this book will give you a whole new sense of hope for what your mind can do, and a whole new sense of wonder for how far can we push visual thinking.

3) The best book ever written on using the rest of our mind and body:

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

Back in Junior High and High School, I ran all the time. It was the late seventies and early eighties and everybody ran. Track, cross country, family weekend fun-runs. Since I was a kid and indestructible, it never occurred to me that the running might 1) help my body stay strong so that it could better withstand the rigors of daily life 2) physically enlarge and oxygenate my brain and 3) encourage my body’s naturally calming and thinking chemicals to flow.

Stronger body, bigger brain, less stress? They didn’t mean anything to me at age fifteen, but I can’t think of a better cocktail now at age 50. We don’t often talk about how physically demanding giving a presentation is, but we should. I now see that aside from having my content prepared and practiced, the single greatest contributor to my confidence as a presenter is feeling physically well.

Okay, there are lots of books about health and fitness. Why am I so ga-ga about Christopher’s? Two reasons: One, this is the first book I have read in one sitting in twenty years. It is that fun, captivating, illuminating, and full of fantastic stories. More importantly, reading this book – especially the description of how to run well – got my adrenaline pumping so fast that the moment I finished I went out for my first long run in almost twenty years.

Did I hurt myself? I did not. Did I find myself effortlessly visualizing my entire next presentation as I floated along? I did. Have I stopped running since? I have not. And neither have I stopped giving ever better presentations.