I love the topic of visual imagery and how it impacts communication. It brings me back to my very first Psychology class my sophomore year in high school discussing subliminal messages. I can recall being fascinated and appalled all at the same time. I remember thinking to myself ‘does this really work?’ And the more I studied it, the more I realized it did.
I have for years spent a good chunk of time focusing on communication skills with my students. A large portion of our time is spent on a lot of nonverbal stuff. We even talk about how the clothes you wear and how you do your hair tells people something about you…all visual imagery.
One of the neatest things I’ve seen in some time is International School Brussel’s idea of having a “brochure without words.” There is some powerful visual imagery. What I found important, though, was that the pictures were full of impact in and of themselves-but without the carefully chosen words added, I think the essence of what was trying to be communicated would have been diluted. I felt the combination of some very careful word choice, keeping it minimal, and then some excellent pictures worked together to create a powerfully moving package. So much so that when my friend and I looked at it we were ready to pack up and move to that school!
We have for a long time manipulated visual imagery to enhance our communication-or to convince others of a point of view or belief. Now we are in an age where this can be done faster, easier, and even more powerfully. Whereas before the lay person was not able to readily create imagery for a variety of reasons, now anyone with access to technology and some simple programs can find ways to manipulate imagery to serve her purpose. Done correctly, absolutely this can enhance communication…but it can also detract from it if done poorly!