Visual Communication – Communicating Effectively Beyond the Written Word

By Susan Tinnish Senior Strategist, Minding Your Business | November 02, 2014

From the cave drawings in the Ardeche Valley of France to the Guttenberg's printing press, humans have found ways to communicate visually - via pictures or the printed word. Although not normally considered “visual,” text is a graphic representation as the “letters” symbolize something or someone. Writing is the visual manifestation of the spoken word. This article discusses graphic representation beyond the written word to effectively communicate.

Leadership and management requires conveying information powerfully and effectively, but for many audiences pure text is bland, unimaginative, boring, and uninteresting. The idea behind visual communication is to: (1) reveal hidden or not apparent information and (2) reduce and clarify complex information in an understandable manner that is aesthetic and visually pleasing.

Visual communication was used predominantly to make maps more approachable, scientific charts less daunting but now it permeates many aspects persuasive communication (Spry Studies, n.d.). Business communication can benefit from lessons learned from advertising, retail displays, and signage.

Visual Communication – A Definition

Visual communication relies on eyesight. Visual communication is an interdisciplinary approach bringing together anthropology, communication studies, semiotics (the study of signs), media and cultural studies, sociology, and the theory and practice of visual design. Visual communication includes art, signs, photography, typography, drawing, graphic design, and illustrations.

Transition to a More Visual Age

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Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.