For many, visual communication is the hardest form of communication to master. Text and audio can come naturally, to a certain extent, and plenty of people undergo some sort of public speaking training. Some assume that visual communication requires an artistry they don't possess. Others assume it's too abstract to be useful. Still others believe it requires them to over-simplify their message to the point of being simplistic.
What others understand, however, is how powerful visual communication can be. Even the most left-brained, logical person can create great visual communication if they put some thought into it. Visual media include banners and billboards, cartoons, commercials, art, graphics, photos, videos, webinars, workshops, and more.
If you want to help bring your company or team to the next level, here's what you need to know about visual communication:
1. Good: It's consistent.
Visuals need to have an element of consistency across various forms. If you pay attention, you'll see that for some companies, you can spot their ads from a mile away. That's because of the consistent visual elements they include. I live in New York, so I see lots of billboards advertising various brands. The smart brands use a common theme, font, or layout to connect their billboards to their magazine ads to their television spots. Sure, these companies spend millions on marketing every year, but it doesn't have to be complicated. Consistently following a familiar structure and including a themed background can help create a slide deck that's cohesive with the other marketing materials you send to a client.
Great: There's a common visual theme, with sub-thematic identifiers.
If you really want to create compelling, organized visual materials, it requires more planning - but again, it doesn't have to be complicated. If you need to produce a binder of materials, for example, give the whole thing a look that is in line with your company's aesthetic. Then label sub-themes with colors, each complementary to the main colors in the materials. This creates a visually appealing, well-organized product that helps clients understand exactly what you're offering and sets a high expectation for your services.
2. Good: It's appealing to the eye.
Visuals shouldn't be too busy or too simplistic. One is confusing, and the other can be disappointing, or even condescending. Instead, seek to strike a happy medium. Pick or design visuals that support your argument without being distracting.
Great: It's compelling to view while also contributing to your overall theme.
You want visual aids to highlight the point you're trying to make. You should also use visuals as an opportunity to connect back to the ultimate objective of the communication. Whether that's convincing your client to grow their relationship with you, or explaining to your employees why they need to change a process, make sure your visuals contribute to the immediate and overall points.
3. Good: It gets their attention.
Good visuals grab the viewer's attention. It might be the color, the format, or the graphic, but something has to stand out to make the audience focus on that visual instead of on the many other things they could be looking at. Naturally, there's an art to this that helps the visual be more subtle than a blunt instrument, but it should still be bold enough to reel them in.
Great: It keeps them engaged.
It's one thing to get the audience's attention - and it's another thing to keep the audience's attention. The most effective visual tools have an element of interactivity that maintains audience attention beyond their initial glance. The visual might compel them to ask themselves a question, or it could invite them to think about the implications of the point in another situation. It may be an instruction to reach out to get the answer they need. It might even be something funny that helps illustrate your point. Whatever visual you use needs to offer value to them, which will help bring value to you.