Why Visuals Are More Important Than Your Words Alone

If asked to think about your living room, you’d likely form a mental image in your mind’s eye containing your sofa, television, wall art, and decorative objects. What if you were asked to remember standard driving techniques used when you’re behind the wheel of a car? Chances are you mentally see yourself going through those motions.

Here’s the reason why…

…the human brain thinks in pictures rather than words.

Note: This blog post goes a bit further past what I wrote about in Do You Know Why Visuals Are Critical To A Presentation?

The Mental Pictures That Words Describe

When learning something new, humans are able to retain and remember more information when there is some sort of visual associated with that content. As a communicator, your goal should be to grab your audience and share your knowledge and insights in a captivating manner. Both mental images and visual images aid your audience in understanding each key aspect of your message.

Don’t underestimate the power of simple yet thoughtful visuals.

Content Devoid of Visuals

Think about this. Most things such as books or even PowerPoint slides filled with bullets are hard to recall. And unfortunately, most speakers and presenters use words exclusively. The sad thing is that the words of even the most stirring and inspiring speech are difficult to remember.

So how can you leverage visuals to help make your message stick?

Anything That Makes a Mental Image

You can either describe an image or include an actual graphic or photo that represents an aspect of your message. Examples include: analogies, stories, metaphors, case studies, images; simple process maps, graphs, or charts; or digital media like video clips or illustrative animations.

We do not see with our eyes; we see with our brains. – Dr. John Medina

Some More Reasons…

To further press upon you the significance of visuals during your presentation, here are four specific reasons…

  1. The Brain Craves Visuals: The more detailed, colorful, descriptive, or emotional the more the brain will absorb. Visuals keep your audience attentive and helps them stay focused longer.
  2. Visuals Stir Emotions: And emotions signal the brain to pay attention. Without them, the brain can neither learn nor recall.
  3. Visuals Secure Long-term Memories: Long-term memory relies heavily on both visuals and emotions.
  4. Visuals Provide Quick Access: Verbal descriptions mean an audience must translate words into mental images. However, visuals can help audiences translate a message into action, without having to put it all into words first. It offers a short-cut!

As you can now see, visuals are more important that your words—even though your words are indeed a crucial part of your presentation.


How can you use visuals in your next speech or presentation? Share your answer on Twitter or Facebook.


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