by Beth Johnson, Communication Manager, Salsa
Take a guess how many million photos will be uploaded to the Internet today. Seriously. Guess. The answer is 500 million. That’s not a typo. Knowing that, it’s easy to see why visual communication, specifically visual storytelling, are hot topics for nonprofits like yours.
If you missed last week’s webinar by Liz Banse on the power of visual storytelling, you can watch the recording on our website. But, if you need the abridged version, I’ve given you the snapshot below.
First, Liz and Resource Media used a generous grant to fund research on the science behind visual communications. She spent more than two years digging deep into the subject, doing everything from reading academic papers to interviewing experts. The brainchild of this effort, Seeing is Believing: A Visual Storytelling Guide, is one of the first of its kind.
The basics of the guide boiled down to three major principles of visual communications:
- People reply on visuals first, and then on verbals. Approximately 60% of the human brain is devoted to sight. That’s why pictures are more easily remembered than words. However, if information is presented both visually and with text, individuals remember even more (this is called dual coding theory). In short, add a little (key word is little) bit of text to your images for awesome results.
- People’s decisions and actions are based more on emotional reactions than rational thought. Seriously. So make them feel the images and words you portray in your communications, not just think.
- Visuals are the most effective communications vehicles for evoking emotion and getting people to take action. Think about a time when you’ve met a friend for coffee. When they see you, they smile. You in turn will smile as well, without a conscience thought. That’s because of mirror neurons in the brain that make use imitate what we see, and sense what others are feeling through visual cues.
Still with me? Good. Liz gave seven awesome recommendations for you to take these principles and put them into practice. Remember, this is the short version. The recording will tell you way more:
- Test, test and test your images to see what resonates with the audience the most.
- Pair your photos with words to cement them deeper into people’s minds.
- Use authentic photos (instead of stock imagery). People know what’s real and what’s not.
- Show people’s faces. Show them looking directly at the camera- we are actually biologically programed not to look away from someone looking straight at us.
- Show the end results of taking an action. Using a visual to inspire action is great, showing them a devastating picture is not. Show them what will happen if they step in.
- Focus on one person. Studies have shown that this the most effective way to encourage people to give. Seeing one person that they think they can help inspires them to act more than showing them even two people, much less a large crowd.
- And finally, if you learn anything from this, it’s to elevate design to the highest priority level in your communications and your budget! Focus most of your time on choosing the right image, not so much on choosing the right text.
You can also learn more on this topic during our second webinar in this series, Choosing the Best Visuals to Inspire Supporters, on July 10 at 2 p.m ET.