Visual Communication - Communicating Effectively Beyond the Written Word

By Susan Tinnish Advisory Group Chair, Vistage | 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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