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“The pen is mightier than the sword.”— Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Most of us became coaches because we know our ideas have the power to change people’s lives. But sometimes, words just fall short. Sometimes, we need visual models to help us explain those ideas.

If the pen is mightier than the sword, then so is the paintbrush.

The truth is, people are visual. In fact,

  • 50% of the brain is involved in visual processing;
  • 70% of all sensory receptors are in the eyes; and
  • Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text.

There’s a reason visual content on the internet has increased 9,900% in the last 10 years. There’s a reason infographics are all over social media. There’s a reason Pinterest is worth over $11 billion.

Visual content works and people eat it up.

To get the most out of visuals as coaches, we need more than just pretty pictures in a slide deck. That’s where visual models come in.

What Do Visual Models Do?

Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?


Or the Eisenhower Box?

All the best visual models have one thing in common: they simplify complex concepts, making them easy to understand and easy to retain.

When to Use Visual Models

As coaches, we should use visual models in three areas of our businesses.

1. Teaching

You’re an expert in your field with deep knowledge of complex systems and methods. And you have the experience/wisdom to use those concepts to get results for your clients. Visual models are incredibly valuable for making those complex ideas easy for your clients to understand, retain, and act on.

Teaching is by far the most popular use of visual models, but it’s not the only use.

2. Selling

Visual models are also really helpful when selling your program — in webinars, live events, even one-on-one sales meetings (back of the napkin?).

They help you influence by giving you a quick, simple way to explain the big ideas of your program and the structure of your coaching process.

[Note: We’ll show an example of this later on]

3. Growing

You can also use visual models internally. Need to show your VAs how their tasks fit into the bigger picture? Need to present the goals and structure of your coaching business model to your team or partners?

Create a visual model of your business model.

That’s right. A model of a model!


How to Create an Effective Visual Model

Creating a model is incredibly simple. All you really need is a pen, piece of paper, and a basic understanding of geometry… and I mean really basic.

Forget what you learned in geometry class. Of all the shapes, there are only three you need to worry about for models.

  1. Circles
  2. Triangles
  3. Squares

Any other shape, whether it’s a dodecahedron or 20-sided dice, is just a combination of these three. That means every visual model is just a variation on circles, triangles, or squares. Since the whole point of using a visual model is to simplify a concept, we don’t need to overcomplicate things.

Simple shapes give us a good place to start, but the real key to effective visual models comes in layering.

Layer Up

Let’s say I need to create a three-circle Venn diagram for the importance of teaching WHY, WHAT, HOW — why something matters, what we need to do, and how to do it.

We have three circles and three words, but frankly, there’s no depth to it. What really makes a good visual model pop are the layers.

A good friend of mine, Matt Church, once showed me three layers to add to every model to increase it’s pulling power.

1. Awareness

In just one word, these are the main concepts or labels you want to teach.

2. Distinctions

These are intersections — what happens when the keywords overlap.

3. Prescriptions

These are the actions steps needed to make progress.

In other words, now that I’m aware of these terms and I know what distinguishes them, here’s what should I do to get better at this.

Let’s look at the model for a strategy session.

There are three elements of a strategy session with a prospect.

  1. Reality — where they are right now
  2. Results — where they want to be
  3. Roadblocks — what’s keeping them from getting there

[These elements make up awareness.]

If we left it at that, it tells us the main points, but it doesn’t convey enough meaning to make a real impact. When we add our other layers, we add incredible depth of meaning.

Distinctions happen when these elements intersect.

If your prospect’s really clear about the reality they’re in right now AND the results they want, you create a sense of vision.

If your prospect’s really clear about their reality AND their roadblocks, you create a sense of frustration.

If your prospect’s really clear about their roadblocks AND the results they want, you create a sense of tension.

When we do all of these things (at the point where they all intersect) we create the gap.

Now, let’s look at prescriptions. In this case, our prescriptions are how to identify a prospect’s reality, results, and roadblocks.

To learn the of our prospect’s situation, we could:

  1. Create an environment of safety to encourage honesty;
  2. Get actual numbers and statistics; or
  3. Simply ask where they are right now.

To bring the results they’re after to the surface, we could:

  1. Future pace by Creating a vision board;
  2. Share case studies of previous success stories; or
  3. Ask them how they want their reality to be different.

To identify their roadblocks and create tension; we could:

  1. Ask specific questions about their current process;
  2. Ask what they think is holding them back; or
  3. Ask about the impact if nothing changes.

What if, instead of using layers, we only used these three faces?

Not very engaging, is it?

When you layer your visual models, several things happen

1. You Build Authority

Layering your model lets you demonstrate your expertise in a way that really resonates with your prospects, clients, and team members. This gives you credibility and positions you as the authority in your specific area.

2. You Build Connection

As you present your model, you also build a connection with the audience. When they see themselves as part of your model, they’re not only engaged, but they feel like you know them inside and out.

3. They Get Results

When the model has depth and clarity but is still simple, it’s easier to retain. When they retain it, they can implement it. It’s not just a concept to them anymore — it’s concrete. When they think about the model they’ll think about you, positioning you as the solution to their problem.

I’ve always been a fan of visual models, but learning how to layer my models completely changed the game  for my teaching, selling, and business growth.

What kind of an impact could using layered visual models have on you and your business? 


P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways I can help you grow your coaching business:

1. Grab a free copy of my book

It’s the roadmap to attracting prospects, signing clients, and scaling your coaching business. — Click Here

2. Join the Coach Dojo and connect with coaches who are scaling too

It’s our new Facebook community where smart coaches learn to get more income, impact, and independence. — Click Here

3. Join our Implementation Program and be a Case Study

I’m putting together a new coaching case study group at Black Belt this month… stay tuned for details. If you’d like to work with me on your client-getting and scale plans… just send me a message with the words “Case Study”. — Click Here

4. Work with me and my team privately

If you’d like to work directly with me and my team to take you from 6 to 7 figures… just send me a message with the word “Private”… tell me a little about your business and what you’d like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details! — Click Here


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