Posted on April 24, 2017
One of my favorite things to do as I travel the world is to look at the creative male or female restroom signs. Some of them are very memorable and make me laugh (the high heel vs men’s dress shoe, the faceless long curly hair vs the faceless short hair and goatee), but others require thoughtful consideration before I select the right door.
Consider the popular Taoism concept of Yin and Yang where “Yin” (the black side) represents bad and “Yang” (the white side) represents good. As with the restroom signs, visual communication in presentations has its upsides and its challenges.
When to use visual communication (for good)
To Eliminate Confusion- Anytime you use statistics, numbers or show how something is organized, visual communication always wins.
For Clarity – Images transcend language so clear visuals are especially useful with today’s global audiences.
To Drive Better Recall of Your Content – People only remember ~10% of what they read and ~20% of what they hear. However, people remember between 50-80% of what they SEE and hear.
To Change Behavior – People act on emotion, not just data or information. Visuals can evoke emotion in a way that text can never do.
The challenges of visual communication (the bad)
More Time and Effort- Although a graph or pie chart might help your audience connect and understand information faster, the process of selecting, compiling and arranging large amounts of information into something that is visually appealing can be tricky and time consuming.
Cost- To produce stunning visual content, you may have to purchase high quality images or design software.
Image Limitations- While the right picture can speak 1,000 words, the wrong image can confuse the audience or even detract from your message.
Oversimplification- The wrong image, icon or chart can trivialize or leave out important details that could interfere with the decision-making process.