A client made a comment the other day that got me thinking. More than thinking in fact. It got me fired up to start expressing myself on the power of visual communication in business. I think there’s a lot to be said that business people need to know about.
It’s the end of the year, I know, and most of my colleagues and clients are by now either sunning themselves or at least preparing to, but I’ve still got some stuff to share so that I can free my mind to absorb some light hearted fictional reading material over the holidays.
Welcome to our blog!
The comment made by my client was that his customers have forgotten his company’s PowerPoint presentation within ten minutes of seeing it. I diplomatically told him that he was lucky they had remembered it for that long - and that’s not because it was a bad presentation. It actually ranked quite highly compared to some that I’ve seen – and I told him that too.
So, why then, he asked, was his audience not retaining the information? Well, there is no ‘one size fits all’ response to this question (and I intend to cover these different variables in upcoming posts) but in that situation, it was a clear example of too much text, too much talking. It’s hard work for an audience to read a text-heavy presentation and be expected to pay attention to a speaker at the same time. Simply by the way we are wired, the audience will choose either to read or to listen and neither are effective on their own as far as retention of information goes.
I proceeded to explain to my client, who was looking more bewildered as I spoke (with the realisation that his presentations over the past ten years had made little impact) that had his presentation included less text and more visuals, his customers would have found it far easier to pay attention to and remember what he was saying.
As I explained how visuals enable our brains to create meaning and remember concepts, my client’s frown turned the other way as he digested the simplicity of my rationale.
Appropriate visuals such as imagery, animation or iconography require very little processing. This is why audiences remember and retain a lot more of what they see as opposed to what they hear. In fact, studies have shown that people only remember 10% of what they hear, 30% of what they read, but about 80% of what they see and do.
And that’s why I’m so passionate about why I do.
Communication that uses great visuals has the ability to change people, to persuade them, to move them, to inspire them. And yet this potential is generally overlooked in the day-to-day business environment.
Meetings, conferences, keynote addresses, roadshows, launches and presentations continue to take place day in and day out leaving audiences unmoved.
Sure, it’s not only about the visuals – if the content is rubbish then there’s no point in making it visually meaningful - but assuming the information is valuable, without visuals to tell its story and bring it life, the content will not resonate with an audience, let alone get them to act.
Looking forward to sharing with you, connecting with you and collaborating with you. Here’s to making an impact in 2011!