Using pictures will help make your message memorable. This is a known and understood statement of fact. Advertising, speech writing, politics and data science all apply the idea that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. And yet this simple concept is so often left on the shelf when it comes to business communication.
I am thinking about his because I recently watched a documentary about the World Memory Championships and had a bit of an ‘a-ha’ moment. I had heard of memory palaces but I hadn’t quite got it all clear in my mind. Here is a trailer for the documentary which explains it pretty well.
As a result of watching the full documentary, I am currently trying to learn ‘The Major System’ so I can remember numbers more easily. I am doing this for fun but it is an interesting exercise in using pictures for memory.
Here is another really simple but helpful Ted Talk which is misleadingly titled but is about the power of pictures.
- Take the bullet points off the slides and use pictures instead.
- There are myriad of sources for pictures you can acquire for free or cheaply. We use Pixabay and Flickr – both free, but also Istock. I have recently discovered beautiful.ai which is all about online slideshows but has a vast library of great pics.
- Use your own photos. In professional life, I think there is vast scope for whipping out the phone and taking photos of your team, your projects, your commute or something else that just speaks to you. Using these in your presentation in a considered and logical way can make the whole thing fresh and inclusive.
- Use photos but draw on them or annotate them. (You can buy software that adds speech bubbles. although there are cheaper ways to do this.)
- Childish sketches or hand-written diagrams can also work if you dare to share them.
In conversations or interviews:
Create a picture in people’s minds. If you do this your idea will be remembered. All you have to do to do this is to use tangible language.
If you talk about ‘the discomfort of public transport’ you will not create a picture. If you say ‘standing in the rain waiting for a bus’ or ‘squashed into a commuter train with someone’s backpack in your face’ you are creating pictures.
I remember someone talking to me about ‘data cleansing’ for a pension fund. It was all rather dry and unmemorable until she spoke about her first ‘data cleansing’ job which started in a dusty room full of hand-written ledgers. She didn’t actually show me a picture – I created the picture in my mind, and several years later I remember it well. Below is exactly as I imagined it.
I am always interested in good sources of pictures or fresh ideas of how to use them so please feel free to share.