A few years back, my grandmother completely lost her hearing. Fortunately, her brain and her eyes function at 200% capacity. So whenever we want to convey a message, we either need to write it down in a diary or use hand gestures.
So while we can’t talk to her, we communicate with her through visuals.
Visuals are how you should communicate with your audience as well
The audience forgets information. Overload them with information, and they would not remember a thing. Show them a visual, however, and they will retain it.
The question then is, how can we create visual stories that the audience can see inside their head?
Let’s look at 3 ways of doing that.
Give a physical location to your story
When you don’t specify a location, a story is hard to visualize.
Consider these 2 examples –
1. I was reading Harry Potter.
2. I was sitting on a bench in the park as the sun was setting. I was reading Harry Potter.
Which one painted a picture in your mind? Which image will be harder to forget? I will answer that for you – Number 2.
Where are you sitting?
What time of the day is it? Are there people around you?
Is it quiet or noisy?
Answering questions like these at the start helps you paint a clear picture. The clearer you describe, the better for the reader.
Never be vague
Vagueness is the enemy of memory. We forget vagueness but remember specificity.
Consider these 2 examples –
1. My friend was sitting in a cafe and drinking coffee.
2. My friend, John, sat at Starbucks while sipping on a hot Americano.
The 2nd example tells you that my friend is a guy named John, who is not just sitting in any cafe, but in a Starbucks… and is drinking not any coffee, but an Americano.
Magical, isn’t it? With a bit of specificity, the story becomes easier to visualize.
Show, don’t tell
Showing your wife that you care about her is a better strategy than telling your wife that you care. The same works in stories.
The audience wants to find answers on their own. The journey to the climax is what excites them. At times, however, we make the mistake of handing them an answer on a plate. An approach that creates a mediocre experience.
There are multiple ways of doing this.
Here’s how –
Instead of saying – ‘I saw Julia, and I felt myself getting angry,’ I could always say, ‘As I saw Julia, I felt my cheeks go red’.
Instead of saying – ‘John had a crush on Anita,’ you could always say, ‘Whenever Anita was around, John couldn’t help but smile.’
Your audience doesn’t have to forget
When you bombard the audience with information, they forget. Instead, if we tell them visual stories, they remember. You can do this by giving your stories a physical location, being specific, and showing instead of telling.
Try one today
It’s probably not a good idea to try all these 3 approaches simultaneously. It could be overwhelming. Instead, pick one and try implementing it, yeah? The moment you master one of them, you can pick up the second one. Tell me how it goes.
Or as my grandmother likes to say, “Don’t take such a big bite. Take only what you can chew”.