Powerful Facts About Visual Communication

Filed Under Visualization

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November 18, 2011

Did you know that visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text? Or how about the fact that they are processed simultaneously?

I wanted to share some interesting facts about visuals with you today from an article by Mike Parkinson of billiondollargraphics.com.

Ever wonder why you can process visuals so much faster than text? This is because visuals are processed simultaneously whereas words are processed sequentially. Did you know that visual imagery is more powerful than words alone when used to communicate a message to an audience. (To learn more about how the brain is predisposed to memorize images see our previous blog post)

A study commissioned by 3M Corporation, suggests that you can be 43% more effective when using visual aids as a presenter. Similarly, unless words, concepts, ideas are linked to an image they “go in one ear, and out the other”. The reason is because words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only remember about seven pieces of information (the reason why we have 7 digit phone numbers). Images however, go directly into our long-term memory where they are permanently etched.

The Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab asked 2,440 participants how they evaluated the credibility of a web site they were shown. Almost half (46.1%) said that the Web site’s design look was the number one criterion for discerning the credibility of the presented material.

Why is this the case?

Graphics do what text alone cannot do. They quickly affect us both cognitively and emotionally:

1) Cognitively: “Graphics expedite and increase our level of communication. They increase comprehension, recollection, and retention. Visual clues help us decode text and attract attention to information or direct attention increasing the likelihood that the audience will remember”.

2) Emotionally: “Pictures enhance or affect emotions and attitudes. Graphics engage our imagination and heighten our creative thinking by stimulating other areas of our brain (which in turn leads to a more profound and accurate understanding of the presented material). It is no secret that emotions influence decision-making.”

“(Emotions) play an essential role in decision making, perception, learning, and more … they influence the very mechanisms of rational thinking”. (From Mike Parkinson’s “The Power of Visual Communication” Post)

As you can see, having the right visuals is incredibly powerful.  To read Mike’s full blog post about the power of visuals click here.

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