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Steve Jobs

Photo courtesy of ZDNet

Let’s play a game. I’m going to describe a painting, using only words, and you have to try and guess it as quickly as possible. Don’t worry, you shouldn’t have to be an art history major to figure this one out.

Okay, here we go:

Night has fallen across a sleepy rural town tucked in the foothills of a small mountain range. In the center, a church steeple reaches to heaven like the countless prayers echoed behind its walls. Above, a tapestry of blues and purples swirl across the canvas, crashing like waves on a shore — a blanket of tranquility protecting the townspeople below.

Any guesses? Don’t worry, I’ll keep going.

It’s nighttime, but the sky is not dark. No, it is a flare with 11 golden stars and a waning crescent moon, each enveloped in an eternal glow like candles at an all-night vigil. 

I hope by now, most of us know the painting I’m talking about. It’s Vincent van Gogh’s, “The Starry Night,” one of the most famous works of art in history.

Almost everyone has seen a picture of this painting at least once in his or her life. It’s absolutely breathtaking — a masterpiece. But something gets lost when you read about it instead of seeing it. No matter how eloquently one may describe a painting or sculpture, nothing quite compares to seeing the brushstrokes and emotion with your own eyes. (Seriously, read the description again, then look at the painting here. It’s no contest).

Keeping this in mind, why should your business or sales presentation be any different? Visuals are just as important when talking with an audience or to a client as they are anywhere else. You need more than words.

Making the Most of Visuals for Your Business

Statistics show that 65 percent of humans are visual learners and that the brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text. Therefore, if you’re giving a presentation without some type of visual, you’re ignoring a majority of your audience before you even begin.

So let’s look at a few ways you can start using images and visuals for your business’ website or during your sales presentations to further engage your audience and hopefully attract more clients:

1. Product Videos for Your Website

Videos are one of the most effective ways to present information about your company or product without a large financial investment. Consider making some short videos to help explain your products to potential customers, especially if your product works well with a visual demonstration. A simple video can go a long way in not only improving your image as a “current” company, but it also keeps website visitors engaged longer than other media.

2. Effective Slide Shows during Presentations

The days of boring slide presentations are over. New technology lets you create visually enticing and interactive presentations to keep your audience engaged throughout your presentation, so don’t be afraid to flex your creative muscles. These aren’t your normal slide shows. Think of the late Steve Jobs when announcing a new Apple product. More images, more movement and less bullet points. Draw your audience in and keep them there. If you are describing features or an update on a new product, show the audience what it does, don’t tell them.

3. Communicate A Lot of Information without Saying Much

In today’s world, you don’t have long to get your point across. Just look at popular new mobile applications like Vine or Snapchat. Users have six seconds of video or a pictures that disappears after five seconds to get their point across. If you want to communicate a large amount of information with someone, you need visual representations – infographics, charts, etc. Anything that can convey 15 minutes worth of information into about 15 seconds. Otherwise, your audience is moving on.

I realize the irony in presenting the above information without many visuals. Believe me, I wish words could come across as beautifully as the effervescent glow surrounding the stars and moon of Van Gogh’s painting. There is a place for written content and oral presentations, but if you can start thinking of your marketing in terms of visual representations, you will immediately improve its effectiveness.