The Triumph of the Visual Image

The Triumph of the Visual Image

When the Zumba trainer tells everyone in her class to move to the right, which way does she go? She will go to her own left as she is mirror image to her students.  This is because folk will instinctively follow her movement, in preference to her instructions. So whether you are training, presenting, marketing – or simply explaining a concept in a business meeting, the more visual you can make it, the better. 

There are legions of unbelievable and unverifiable statistics floating about t’internet around the power of the visual image; however one fact seems to be undisputed. Humans have been communicating with each other for approximately 30,000 years, yet we’ve only been using the written word for about 3,700 years. That’s only 10 percent of the total time that we’ve been communicating with each other. 

So for 90% of human history, folk have had to communicate minus the written word, meaning our brains have had thousands of years to perfect this skill. Take the colour red, which is generally associated with danger, therefore flags an immediate warning. Statistically, red cars are involved in more accidents than other cars – so all those natty red sports car drivers watch out! I always knew there was a good reason to be tootling around in my silver Toyota.

We also instinctively know that body language and facial expressions are more reliable indicators than words or tone. Even a baby can recognise its mother’s face long before it can recognise words, or say ‘mummy’.

However we are essentially lazy and our attention span these days is vanishingly small, therefore if we are made to concentrate too hard we lose interest. We decide in nano seconds whether we want to watch a TV channel; we flip through Facebook fast enough to make us nauseous and only stop when something catches our eye.

This is because we are bombarded with info these days, mobile screen devices; flashing signals in shops telling us which assistant is free; traffic signs. How do we cope? We cope because the info is visual, enabling us to process multiple images simultaneously. With text, we process one word at a time, which means that it takes effort. How many folk out there do as I do and turn off the irritating satnav voice and just use the map?  

We recognise that visuals make complex concepts so much more understandable and user-friendly. When you use photographs rather than bullet points your audience can read between the lines and use their imagination to plug in the gaps. Using charts and graphs, they will notice patterns that wouldn’t have been as accessible in a written format. 

So why fight the habit of several lifetimes – or 30,000 years?  If you want to make yourself understood instantly and easily, put down the pen, zip your lip and find a few pertinent pictures instead.

Your Reaction: Do you want to learn how to become more visually effective in your business dealings? Or would you like some more in-depth help with preparing slides and/or content for an upcoming presentation that you are due to deliver? If so, contact us for additional information or to arrange a chat with one of the Stratus team.