Chapter 3: Visualization Techniques

Almira Hadzovic, Sabina Nuhbegovic, Sinisa Ristic, Thorsten Steiner, Veronica Strittmatter, Wellensiek Abrollcontainer


The words "visualization" and "imagery" are in some ways misleading. While the dominant sense is usually vision, visualization does not just involve seeing. The more senses you involve, the stronger the effect. Hear a switch click when you turn it on, or feel an engine turn over and the vibrations when you start it. Smell fuel when you check a fuel tank. Feel a rope as you trim the sail, or hear the shutter click when you take a photograph. Hear the applause of an audience after a presentation. All these can significantly improve how your visualizations work.
There is no magic or mysticism to visualization. Simply start thinking through the steps, task or scenarios you wish to visualize. Here are some specific tips:

How to use visualization

We can use visualization for improving memory, restoring health, reducing stress, increasing relaxation and motivation, improving sport performances, and more. Three main uses of visualization are:

Visualization works because certain areas of the mind cannot distinguish between what you see with your eyes and what you see in your mind. You can manipulate your mind and body to believe what you are visualizing is real.

Visual (spatial) learning style

If we use the visual style, we prefer using images, pictures, colors, and maps to organize information and communicate with others. We can easily visualize objects, plans and outcomes in our mind’s eye. It is important to have a good spatial sense, which gives a good sense of direction.

The whiteboard is a best friend. We love drawing, scribbling and doodling, especially with colors.

We may use common phrases like these:

Use mind maps. Use color and pictures in place of text, wherever possible. If you don’t use the computer, make sure you have at least four different color pens.

Making an effective presentation for an international audience - a checklist and reminder

You are an experienced presenter. You are likely to be aware of the elementary methodological rules for presentations shown below. However, it is a challenge presenting for a seminar audience with up to 20 different mother tongues. Experience shows that some of the rules listed here are very often forgotten. According to academic research1, disregarding only one of these rules reduce participants ability to absorb all the messages of your presentation. In addition, one-way monologue is a relict from the times before Gutenberg: people red texts out of books because there were no other books available!

Audience Analysis

You will receive a preliminary list of participants before the seminar. On the basis of this information, you are able to answer the following questions:


A way to bore the audience is saying everything. Do not try to be complete. Put your ambition as a researcher beside. Don't work through your whole field of expertise. Keep it as simple as possible. No long introductions. Separate your text into ‘digestible’ blocks. In the end, cut the content by 40%.
Determine in advance the limits of the presentation in view of the allotted time. Explaining complex facts in a language which is not the mother tongue of the most listeners usually takes more time than expected. This is particularly the case where interpretation is involved.

One-to-one Eye Contact

Stand up. Standing on your feet you can do something, which the listeners also in the last row expect you to do: to look at them. Don't talk to your visual aid but use the PC screen in front of you.
Do not read: reading means losing contact. Do not use a complete script but a few notes or 'bullet points'.

Visual Support

A picture is worth a thousand words: Acoustic information should be supported by visual information, as the ear reception canal is not very reliable.
Avoid 'Power-Point Poisoning'. A 30 minutes presentation, for instance, should be accompanied by ca. 10-15 slides. Give time to digest the information.

How to get Audience Participation

Get agreement on your agenda. Get them involved. For example ask them for comments on how your point relates to their work, experience etc.
Having finished an issue, summarise, repeat your conclusions and check understanding. Perception of information is a highly individual process. Thus, the "speed of understanding" varies substantially.3


  1. Prof. Peter Senge, MIT, Massachussets (US); Prof. R. Lay, University for Philosophy and Theology, St. Georgen, Frankfurt (D).
  2. Prof. I. Mason, Research Centre for Translation, Communication & Cultures, Leuven (B).
  3. Dipl.-Phys. H.-P. Voss, Dr. V. Strittmatter-Haubold, University of Karlsruhe, Commission for Didactical Methodology (D).

Principles, Methods and Techniques of Visualization

  1. Visualization is a technique for creating images, diagrams or animations to communicate any messages. The basic principles of Visualization are mental images.
  2. You can take up information in different ways: you can see, hear and feel them.
  3. You have to follow 3 criteria when you design a recitation. The recitation should
    1. have a clear concept and be understandable
    2. be stimulating
    3. be visualised.
  4. Modules and tools for visualisation are:
    1. Words, Graphs and Symbols
    2. Overhead Projector
    3. Pinboard
    4. Flip chart
    5. Black Board
    6. Slide Projector
    7. Computer, Video and Beamer
  5. You can also choose between different methods of visualization. For example:
  6. Standards for the realisation:
    1. KISS – Keep it simple and small (or structured)! – Do it simple, but not too! (based on Albert Einstein)
    2. words, graphs and symbols must be readable, simple, structured and short.

References : possible to seek after

Gilbert, John K.: Visualization in Science Education. Springer 2005.

Nelson, Robert B./Wallick, Jennifer: Making Effective Presentations. Scott, Foresman and Company, Glenview, Illinois and London 1990

Scholz, Roland W./ Tietje, Olaf: Embedded Case Study Methods: Integrated Quantitative and Qualitative Knwledge. Sage Publications Inc. 2001.