How to describe your ideas

Do you often have to describe ideas to others? Do you ever have to sell your vision to someone? Here are some tips for explaining a new vision, or abstract idea to somebody for the first time.

This is by no means an easy thing to do.  How do you let someone else see what is only in your own imagination?  How can you do it so accurately that a listener can almost see it, touch it and taste your vision?

As you know, I work in the creative industries and regularly have to describe my ideas to others. This extremely important skill was highlighted the other day while in a training session for Creative Partnerships.

We were put into pairs and one partner was given a postcard. Partners sat back to back. On the postcard was a work of art. The artwork was fairly complex.  The task was to describe the postcard to the partner behind, while they drew a sketch from your description. Sounds easy? Not at all!

It is so important to be accurate when trying to sell your vision. Whether your ideas are for a work of art or a future event, if your description is poor, your listener will lose confidence. Or get the wrong end of the stick completely. But if your descriptive powers are accurate, people will clearly visualise your idea, and they’ll be sold! Do you want people to sign up for your ideas? Then try improving your descriptive powers now!

Try this exercise. Grab scrap paper and a pen. I will describe a work of art, and you draw it. Afterwards you can follow the link to see if your sketch is anything like the real thing!

This painting looks German in style. It uses a lot of blues and greys. It is an abstract painting, and the images represented are quite surreal. The style might be called Dada by an art critic. Looking at the picture, it feels heavy and brooding, like a war is going on.

In the very foreground of the picture, at the bottom right hand corner is something that looks like a white, headless, naked female mannikin. Her left arm ends in a red glove and is raised. Instead of a head, a horizontal line balances on top of her neck.

Behind her, in the midground and still to the far right, is something that looks like a grey chimney. The chimney is in five pieces, stacked one of top of the other. The chimney probably takes up about a tenth of the painting’s width and reaches two thirds up. The very top chimney stack is shaped like a watering can. On stack number three is another ‘watering can’ style spout, this time in red and pointing towards the middle of the picture.

In the centre of the picture, in the midground and taking up about two-thirds of the available space, is a grey kettle-shaped cow. We see the cow head-on. The cow’s horns are white and its nose is stuck inside a white cone, that extends upward like a trunk.

In the background of the painting, the top third is thin white clouds washed against a pale blue sky. At the top left hand side, two skinny blue fish intertwine with the clouds.

The bottom tenth of the background is grey. The middle of the background is white. 

Okay, put your pen down and let’s see how well we did.

Click here to see the real painting. Does your sketch look anything like that?

I missed out some details. Try having a go yourself. This will definitely improve your ability to convey your ideas to others. So go on, start improving your descriptive powers and see how quickly you can inspire others by really selling your vision!

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