Weekly Tip

What’s Better – Graphics or Words For Visual Support?

The most important objective of you, as a communicator, is to gain your listener’s understanding and acceptance of your message.

To make that a reality requires that you develop supporting graphics that help to clarify your content and enables your listeners to remember and retain your message. 

It is important to recognize that different individuals react differently to different forms of visual aids.  Some like maximum technology others love PowerPoint with animation and others love words top to bottom side to side,

That brings us to four basic choices;

  1. All Words:  The danger of using all words is that listeners read faster than you can deliver the words and because of this, they will get the point before you can make the point. If you must use words, it is most effective to use short bullet points that allow you to verbally add to fill out the point. In some situations, you will be asked to submit your presentation in advance.  The challenging part of this is that the listeners come to the meeting having read the materials, made notes, and would rather you just answer their questions.  This ends in you losing control.
  2. All Graphics:  A very creative approach that lets you, the communicator, play the main role.  The upside ….it creates interest but the downside is the; listeners will lose track of your flow and message.  
  3. A Combination:  This is very effective as it brings in the interest factor of charts, graphic animation, and words. The important thing is the words need to be in bullet form with you adding the detail.  Otherwise, it becomes an exercise in remedial reading.
  4. Other Options:  To help add variety and more importantly depth and clarity, photographs, drawings, site maps, product demonstrations, video clips, etc. can be useful.  The important point is that they are short and help make the point. 


When building your next communication, step back and from the listener’s mindset and look for ways to simplify and clarify your message using the true and tested concept of “a picture is worth a thousand words”.  


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