7. Picture-Superiority Effect

Create clear and convincing internal communications, strategic plans, research reports and other boardroom-style slides.

Picture-Superiority Effect 

The best way to make people understand you, and agree with you, is to add a picture to your slide.

There is 40 years of research in education, the legal profession, advertising and cognitive science that proves we are more likely to understand, agree with and remember something if it is accompanied by a relevant picture. This is called the picture-superiority effect.

This is because we think in pictures. Text on a page must be converted into pictures in our own minds. That’s why a sentence like “the house is on fire” is easier to understand than “truth is infinite”. The first sentence generates a mental image, while the second remains abstract.

The most effective pictures are concrete and represent real things. Abstract pictures like graphs and diagrams are less effective than concrete images but still more effective than text alone.

There is no simple way of choosing the right picture. That’s where science and art intersect. But there are some general principles, based on what readers need in order to understand and agree with you in different situations, that can help guide your choice of pictures. For instance, strive to use concrete pictures rather than abstract pictures. And use diagrams for decision-making meetings.

Next: Text

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One Response to 7. Picture-Superiority Effect

  1. Brilliant Bruce, as always!

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