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Visual Clichés: Teamwork Pictures

Learn why teamwork pictures such as hands placed together are so clichéd. We look at four ways in which you can find alternative visuals.


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Rob's presentation had this picture concept and so did Sam's, and so do countless other slides. What's this picture concept that populates so many slides? Why is it so popular? And more importantly, why is it so over-used? First of all, let's admit that the reason why a picture concept gets clichéd is because it is good to start with; but then it's too good for its own existence. Rampant over-use means that the emotions that this picture concept evoked do not work anymore. And that’s exactly what happened with the teamwork picture that showed many, many hands placed together. And now, just because some people over-used the concept, you have to find, create, and use newer visual concepts to cater to that same emotion!

Let’s first visit this clichéd picture concept. A quick Google Images search for teamwork hands gets the results you see in Figure 1, below.

All these pictures are clichéd
Figure 1: All these pictures are clichéd

So now we will explore alternatives to this picture concept, in the same way that we have already explored other options for visual concepts such as the handshake, the globe, and the phone operator.

Before we look for alternatives, let us explore what thoughts does the visual concept of teamwork, where hands are placed together evoke? Here are some thoughts:

  1. This visual concept represents unity, as unity in community, or even unity in diversity. 
  2. Can depict building trust in each other, and resolving conflicts together. 
  3. People working together can achieve so much more. They also witness more progress, development, and growth and ultimately achieve success as a team. 
  4. Denotes mutual interests and common goals of multiple people, societies, groups, cultures, and countries. 
  5. Promotes cooperation and extends support for everyone.
  6. Reflects the idea that different races, nationalities, and genders can work together.
  7. Strengthens resolves to achieve common goals.
  8. Portrays that a large number of people working together are so much more formidable than one or few people working.

Now, let us think about alternatives for the cliché that teamwork, represented by many hands, brings forth. As discussed in our Overcoming Clichés in Pictures article, we will explore four directions:

Think Creative

This is the part when we explore creative variations to a clichéd visual concept. First think about what you wanted to express? Based on your original need, you will have to sprout ideas that support that need.

Think Creative

Here are some thoughts that will help you brainstorm yourself. These are just a few ideas and your solutions may be similar rather than the same:

  • If you wanted to express "working together", then you can also look at using gears of all types. Now even with gears, there is a small problem! Gears have been used so often that they are in real danger of becoming clichéd themselves! But with gears, you can bring forth so many variations. A human hand on the other hand is almost similar in most cases!
  • You can also use a picture of war training. But again, be aware that there may be scenarios in which this sort of visual concepts may not work.
  • Another similar concept to play with is a team of ants or even a group of flies; both of these insects work in a team.

If this section did not help, move on to the next one.

Think Profound

Now you need to again think about what you wanted to express. However this time, you need not think of a wider base. In fact you must now think profoundly with more depth about your visual concept. Our visual concept that we are trying to overcome is that of hands placed together as a representation of teamwork.

Think Profound

Depth directed towards this subject may trigger some of these thoughts. Are these hands necessary? If they are, can we make them somewhat different? How is that doable? Probably we can change the many hands to the hands of just one person, and use something abstract to denote teamwork? Maybe teamwork with nature, or even teamwork with technology?

If this section did not help, move on to the next one.

Think Logical

Since thinking both creatively and profoundly did not help you, you should now start thinking in a direction opposite to creativity. And that gets you to logic, which can be loosely also translated as common sense. Common sense dictates that you now explore visual content that's not sourced from camera footage. Such content could be anything from doodles to sketches and from charts to flowcharts; and anything else that can visually express your thoughts clearly.

Think Logical

You can also use hand palm stamps of multiple people. Or for something different, you can also use foot step graphics of multiple people?

If this section did not help, move on to the next one.

Think Again

Wise men have said that everything goes around in cycles. And if you run away from someone in the opposite direction, then one day you may encounter them again. Of course, a hundred or more years ago we all realized that the globe is round, so that observation does make sense even if you think logical. But there has to be a stop to logical thinking too, especially if you are not getting to your destination! Maybe your route was wrong, maybe your conveyance was not suitable, or you could think about another hundred reasons. Well, what you need to do is stop thinking for a while, pause, and then start thinking anew, with a completely different perspective.

Think Again

So that does mean that even if the visual concept of teamwork with many human hands is clichéd, you don’t have to worry about the subject or the cliché! That's because you need to think again; this time about something else. So start all over again with another visual concept.

See Also:

Clichés: Handshake Pictures
Clichés: Globe Pictures
Clichés: Phone Operator Pictures
Clichés: Light Bulb Pictures
Clichés: Target and Dart Pictures
Clichés: Stack of Coins Pictures


Visual Clichés: Visual Clichés: Teamwork Pictures (Glossary Page)

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