Ever heard of the 7%-38%-55% Rule? According to Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the American UCLA, words only account for 7% of how we interpret a message. Tone of voice (38%) and non-verbal elements (55%) have a much bigger impact on the effectiveness of a dissertation. So, next time you’re working on an important presentation, think about striking the right balance. Instead of stuffing slides with words, consider whether a picture could convey the same message better.
This simple SWITCH in how you tell your story can help you take collaboration to the next level.
There’s a big difference between how the human brain processes pictures and words. Understanding a text or a number is an active, serial process, which requires us to be focused. The human brain analyzes digit by digit, character by character, and word by word, until a full sentence or number comes forward. Although this might appear instantly, it undeniably requires a certain effort.
People think in pictures
Understanding pictures – or sounds and smells for that matter – involves a more spontaneous mechanism, as our brain processes them 60,000 times faster than words. Research has shown how pictures affect us both cognitively and emotionally. Much more than words, an image has the power to make us think and feel differently. What’s more, visual content sticks. Our long-term memory prefers visual concepts over words, making us recall pictures six times better than words.
Take the test
Take any picture and try to describe every detail of what you see. Are there objects or people in it? What’s in the foreground, and what’s in the background? What can be seen on the left, right, top or bottom? Do environmental circumstances, like the location or the weather, influence the image? And how about movement, or people’s emotions? The idiom ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ is no exaggeration by any means.
Add power to your point
Bearing this in mind, next time you and your colleagues are working on a presentation or document, why not try and make it as visual as can be? Make use of pictures whenever possible and try and keep the number of words used to clarify your picture or message to an absolute minimum. But choose your images wisely. Use pictures that appeal to the imagination of your audience and that are relevant to the story you are telling. Remember: if you paint the picture right, your message is bound to stick!