words are powerful or it ain’t just a visual world

words fall off page

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“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”

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Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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Well.

I probably get in this business discussion at least once a week — the “today is a visual world and people identify from imagery more than with words’ discussion.

I get grumpy with this discussion.

I think this discussion is, well, a bullshit discussion. Yes. I have seen all the nifty info-graphics showcasing how quickly brains assimilate visuals. Yes. I have seen the cultural pieces stating young people’s attention spans gravitate toward visuals. I even get Napoleon’s “a picture is worth a thousand words” at me every time I suggest dismissing words as ‘lesser than’ communication tools to visuals is, well, stupid.

Let me state. Unequivocally state. It is a not a ‘visually wired world.’ Shit. It isn’t a ‘word wired world.’ People emotionally connect in a variety of ways and generalizing into ‘visual world’ or ‘you have to communicate with images in today’s world’ is just stupid. I typically make my stand on two thoughts:

 

Connection.

I have said this a zillion times and will continue to do so … it is a connection world. It was, is and will be. People will connect with words or images as long as the words or images capture something worth connecting with.

 

A bad visual is not better than good words.

Bad words is not better than a good visual.

 

We shouldn’t focus on visuals or words we should focus on connecting.

 

Literal thinking is bad.

words are freeHuh? What the hell do I mean?

Well.

As soon as some smartass suggested that creating an image in people’s minds is a powerful connection a shitload of people concluded  ‘let’s show a vivid visual which they can place in their mind.’ <literal interpretation>

Or.

“People like identifying through images.” <literal interpretation>

 

Sigh. And the business world was literally off & running. Then the next thing you know some futurist bullshit is being published saying ‘this generation is stimulated more by visuals than anything else.’ <bad literal interpretation conclusion>

Then.
The next thing you know, some bullshit research selectively using, and phrasing the information, gets ‘published’ to show that the mind processes imagery well <note: but not necessarily better than words> and is being put in neat presentation diagrams.

What bullshit.

Everyone took the thought literally and it is meant to be embraced figuratively. Even more importantly? All this information is meant to be embraced contextually.

Let me point out that books are fabulous vehicles for creating vivid images in people’s minds.

Uhm. Yeah. They are <oops> words.

Look.

There is no formula. And there are not people more self directed toward images versus others more directed to words.

That is another bullshit fallacy <fantasy>. We need to place this bullshit in the same bucket as the ‘right brain/left brain’ myth.

words battle imagesLook.

People are more directed to whatever sparks something inside them.

A word person can find connection thru an amazing image.

A visual person can find connection thru an amazing grouping of words.

<I would also like to note research shows that the combination of the two, when used well, is a powerful tool>

Anyway.

 

“It is a visual world.”

 

What bullshit. It’s the kind of bullshit if enough people buy into it boxes in, or boxes out, a shitload of great thinking to believe this crap.

Let me be clear.

I love a defining visual. A vivid visual demonstration which people can quickly capture an emotional connection <with the intent of actually telling them something of meaning which gets someone to actually ‘do something’ with regard to your business> is a powerful tool. I have a whole portfolio of great presentations using defining visuals. Maybe surprising too many of the people sucked into this “visual world myth”, I also have a nice portfolio of presentations, advertisements, books & poems used in successful ways.

Eliminating words as a useful, and a powerful, communication vehicle is, well, frankly, stupid. Words, used well, are powerful tools. As powerful as any image.

In the business world, words used wisely can make the difference between making some money and making a lot of money.

I even have an example. I use this example all the time.

I would imagine some of you may have seen the original version of this <an Italian ad agency did it I believe> but it remains a timeless & powerful reminder that its often how you say something rather than what you say that creates the emotion needed to generate behavior:

words sign day===

The Power of Words

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What a wonderful illustration of the power of words … and how words can dramatically effect behavior — well used words making people relate and emote and act. Words create perspective and perspective can be everything. Words are powerful. Evoke emotions, make people reflect and take action.

Never disregard the potential of using words instead of images.

But. Choose your words wisely.

In the end, the most powerful communication is a combination of a great visuals and words used well. Beyond that? Use a visual. Use words. Use whatever communicates what you want to communicate the best way that connects with the people you want to connect with.

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Originally posted February 2015

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Other things I have written about using words wisely.

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Me & words:

http://brucemctague.com/choosing-the-right-word

http://brucemctague.com/intensely-right-words

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Written by Bruce