Mankind’s first attempts at passing on information did not involve words and sentences, they utilised pictures. And, whilst we don’t draw that many pictures of woolly mammoths on cave walls using burnt bones anymore, it is still true that “a picture tells a thousand words”. We still absolutely rely on visual communication to get our messages across and to engage our audience. Imagine a newspaper without any pictures, a financial report without charts or graphs, or Facebook without the -well- faces…
Quite simply, images can convey complex information more simply, directly and efficiently than the written, or even spoken, word. Thinking about our current situation, would the PM reciting numbers of UK Covid cases each month for the past six months have the same impact as – “next slide, please” – a graph showing the same information? Absolutely not. Images are even powerful enough to be meaningful when there are language barriers standing in the way of written or verbal communication.
None of this is really surprising. According to research, the brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text, and 65% of the population are visual learners.
Images don’t just convey information to a reader once hooked, they are fundamental for grabbing their attention in the first instance. LinkedIn’s own research showed that including an image with a post results in a 98% higher comment rate than one without.
As well as conveying factual information, images can also spark a visceral, emotional reaction in their viewers. An image of a wounded puppy or a mistreated circus elephant is likely to have far more impact for a charity fighting animal cruelty than a piece of prose about the same. As well as grabbing attention, it can tug at heart strings.
Make these pictures move (not so easy with charcoal-on-cave-wall) and you’ve got an even more powerful tool at your disposal. Thanks to technology, video is fast becoming the easiest and most effective way to get your messages across. Brushing right past the runaway successes of the more obvious video-based platforms like TikTok, Vimeo & YouTube, there isn’t a social media channel that doesn’t make use of video content. They have all introduced more ways to share more video content over the past few years. You can’t even scroll down your Facebook newsfeed without a video automatically playing of a random chap falling off his skateboard or making his poor granny jump out of her skin. In 2017, socialmediatoday reported that a Facebook video receives 125% more organic reach than a photo.
Video really is the best of all worlds – you can combine headline text and images with voice-overs. It’s verbal and non-verbal communication in perfect harmony.
Complex messages can be delivered with visuals to clarify, and body language and vocal tones to reassure, if that’s what’s required. A three-minute video can contain and disseminate a lot of information far more effectively and efficiently than a remote meeting or lengthy e-mail. And I’d bet the contents of my wish-list for Santa on the video keeping the attention of its viewers until the end over the other two.
Advertising relies on images, both still and moving, to sell you products and services. They do this because they know it works. We know it works. That’s why we bought that healthy juicer we never use. And booked that holiday we couldn’t afford. (Remember when we were allowed to fly to places?)
And yet, how many employers are still relying almost solely on the written words of e-mails, or the spoken words of phone calls and meetings? We know that images and video sell things. But we don’t do the same to “sell” those all-important messages to our most important resource – our people.
Read more: 35 internal communications examples
If you don’t have the time or resources available to embrace this, then it doesn’t all have to be done in-house. There is technology and expertise out there, from our FREE Video Storyboard Template, to our helpful Gurus who can make your visual communications come to life through our Video Production service.
What’s more important than how or by whom it’s done, is simply that it is done! Grab your people’s attention and get your messages properly heard.