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Blah Blah Blah: What To Do When Words Don't Work

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,231 ratings  ·  110 reviews
Ever been to so many meetings that you couldn't get your work done? Ever fallen asleep during a bulletpoint presentation? Ever watched the news and ended up knowing less? Welcome to the land of Blah Blah Blah.The Problem: We talk so much that we don't think very well. Powerful as words are, we fool ourselves when we think our words alone can detect, describe, and defuse th ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published November 1st 2011 by Portfolio (first published January 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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 ·  1,231 ratings  ·  110 reviews

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Nov 23, 2011 rated it liked it
A book about how to pair words with pictures to effectively relay information to others.

Side note: I found this one to be much better than The Back of the Napkin by the same author.

Favorite Parts/Quotes

"When we say a word, we should draw a picture and vice versa."

The story of Dr. Seuss on page 19.

The six different types of pictures for verbal grammar:
If you hear a name, draw a portrait.
If you hear a number, draw a chart.
If you hear a list of objects, draw a map.
If you hear a history, draw a
Nov 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: self-help
I do not want to sound ungrateful, this book was a rather good read, easy and fun, i learned many facts and book references as well, and i did appreciate two bits of infos in the appendixes.

But, it seems to me the author have started by creating a problem, or at least exaggerating it, where there was almost no problem. At least, how i see it, pictures ARE already involved everywhere. Charts, maps, graphs, are all over there. Yet the author make it seem as if our culture is only verbal, and goes
C. Spencer Reynolds
Nov 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
While reading this book I really got clear on the need to draw little drawings as I talk with people to make the ideas vivid and understandable on many different levels. It made my new found enjoyment of Draw Something on my iPad even more meaningful as I now I get to practice making words come to life with a very simple and fast drawing. ;-)

That may sound like I am kidding and I was as I typed that, but the reality is I have gotten much better at the simple little things that will work to do as
Eustacia Tan
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
One of my colleagues recommended this to me because I’m more of a words person and she thought this might help me become more balanced in my thinking. Blah Blah Blah is basically a book on how to balance writing with visuals for better communication.

So disclaimer: I’m not a visual person. I like taking photos but I express myself much better in words than pictures. Even when I read books about mind maps and get really excited about them, they never really work for me. So I was a little wary of t
Oct 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
Excellent re-conceptualization of his first book "Back of the Napkin". Roam simplifies the concepts presented in that book while adding back in "the other half" of the tools used to present information -- words. While I found "Napkin" valuable in work I was doing as I read it, I feel this book provides a more basic and more usable and memorable way to embed these concepts (showing and telling) into my presentations.

In the writing of this book Roam included many simple drawings to help illustrat
Katelyn Jenkins
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, design
What to say!! Wow. I love the bigger picture this book presents on effective teaching and understanding!! Recommended to all, this really is a beautiful piece of work.
Aaron Bolin
Jun 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: presentation
This book actually delivers on the title promise. Dan Roam provides an application-oriented structure to turn weakly-presented ideas into really elegant communication tools.

If you've read the Back of the Napkin or Beyond the Back of the Napkin, then you'll recognize his engaging style that mixes text with oddly compelling simple drawings. In Blah Blah Blah, he extends his earlier work and reinforces the same basic message: words go better with pictures.

I am a fan, and I really liked the overall
Dani Shuping
Jan 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Electronic Copy provided by NetGalley

I thoroughly enjoyed Dan’s first book “On the back of the napkin” and loved the way he presented his ideas and his information. So I was excited to get a chance to read this new book of his that deals with speaking and presenting ideas better, and killing the blahs--complexity, boredom, and misunderstanding. Dan gives us his theory of “Vivid Thinking” which combines the right and left side of the brain so that we can think and learn more quickly. In short, he
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-tools

Dan Roam's Blah Blah Blah: what to Do When Words Don't Work is a clear, practical guide to visual thinking. Roam moves the focus of visual thinking away from creativity and places it firmly on clear thinking and communication. He provides a context for why the visual is so powerful -- it accounts for most of our brain's processing! -- and then goes on to provide an approach to communicating visually that's tied closely to our verbal processing, with a grammar and structure all its own. And he
Ben Love
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
It was 2007 in a conference room in Paris when one of the great product minds in payment, Stephane Jacquis, uttered “blah blah blah” in reference to some fluffy, irrelevant details being talked about. I loved the expression, the sheer audacity and “cut to the chase” of it, and I’ve used the phrase ever since.
Then the absolute best author in visual communication releases his new job entitled “Blah Blah Blah”. His “Back of the Napkin” completely and positively changed how I communicate – I had ver
Mike Trapp
Nov 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I purchased this book yesterday on my kindle. I was searching for a way to simplify complex ideas and make them understandable and memorable. I work in a very technical environment and have many things to read and understand, and it's a bit overwhelming. Let me say that this book was exactly what I was searching for. It's very easy to read, and describes a very exciting method for understanding and communicating information so that everyone gets it. I finished this book in less than a day, I was ...more
S. Lakshmi
Mar 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
One of the best books in the market on visual thinking and conceptualizing. The author makes a case for using images to create thinking as opposed to words and he does a top notch job of convincing us on this.

I have been using his principles to great effect in my writing, training and speaking exercises.

If you want to get away from boring text and step into the world of images and visuals, this is the book. Go get it.
Jane Rain
Mar 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Not bad but this book is about clear ideas without blablabla so for about 300 pages seemed a bit long. I put in only about 5 bookmarks. It is worth for one reading but it is not a must-read. Sorry.
Jan 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Dan Roam has expressed the basic concept of "Picture is better than a thousand words" very well with detailed implementation strategy and examples. The best take away from this book is how one can use a combination of words and pictures to express new ideas in most persuasive way. This entire book is based on the premise of leveraging both the sides of human brain when it comes to expressing thoughts. Dan calls this concept as "Vivid Thinking" which is combination of verbal & visual skills. To m ...more
Apr 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I picked up this book to prepare for a speaking engagement, and I'm glad I did. Reading through it has helped me clarify my message and come up with several drawings to show my ideas. As a writer, it also helped me realize where I can use more visual examples to get my ideas across.

The book is not perfect, however. It's twice as long as I expected or wanted. It's full of a lot of confusing drawings, and a bunch of ideas that didn't gain traction in my mind or felt too... lame. The phrases "blah"
Mar 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The author makes a case for communicating with pictures and words instead of just words. We start by figuring out why 99% of meetings and speeches make our eyes glaze (they are boring -> you have no idea what's being said -> the speaker is actively trying to deceive you). The rest of the book tells you how to present your ideas or understand other people's ideas better via visualization (draw portraits, charts, timelines, flowcharts, etc) and clarification.

The book was short, clear, and easy to
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Playful and encouraging journey from the word-dominated world where good ideas often remain unheard to a quiet forest where the verbal staff is balanced by the visual one. In that forest all ideas get a form, become clear and vivid. As soon as an idea become "vivid" we can bring it back to people - the idea is ready to change the world.
I enjoyed reading the book. I like the idea of supporting any message with an image. The author shares his vision of what the images should be in each situation.
Dec 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, adults
A book about how to pair words with pictures to effectively relay information to others. - Tamara, Web Content Librarian

Reserve a library copy!
Paul Ohlson
Dec 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Got this at a content marketing event where Dan was a keynote. His presentation was amazing. This book gives great insight into how our minds work. If I could post pictures in my review I'd post the cover of this book and me giving a thumbs up. ...more
Andy Doyle
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a great book to help make you into a super communicator ! I've already seen a difference in how I look at letters, emails, and presentations. I've also started demanding better communication from myself. I highly recommend this book if you have to communicate idea's to others. ...more
Doug Theis
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great Dan Roam book. Critically important info on making sure your presentations are worth y of your audience's time. ...more
Jessie Rember
Jan 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a must read for anyone who writes or teaches. The concept is so simple. I appreciate the reminder that not everything I say or write has to sound erudite. Simple is really best.
Marie-pierre Stien
Mar 18, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: business
Disappointings. Lots of blah-blah about how to draw pictures when words fail you. Some interesting ideas but 345 pages, really?
Sep 22, 2012 rated it liked it
I'll have a better idea of how useful this book is when I start trying to apply some of what it says. That said I like the ideas and the presentation - very easy to follow. ...more
Oct 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This book delivered. I would recommend it for anyone in any kind of human relations role... actually I would recommend it for everyone who wants to improve their communication.
Jennifer Janikukla
Dec 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a must-read for teachers and anyone who regularly leads meetings, gives presentations or creates marketing materials.
Emily Reeves
Dec 23, 2012 rated it liked it
For a book about drawing, there sure were a lot of words.
Ed van der Winden
Jan 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Profound in its simplicity. Another excellent book by this revolutionary thinker.
Feb 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
See review of Back of the Napkin, same comments.
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
essential one !!! - vivid thinking as crossover of left and righ brain
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