Visual storytelling is an effective communication strategy that allows you to share narratives and visions, trigger emotions, simplify complex ideas and drive engagement in a meaningful way.
It can help you create an optimal environment that helps attract and sustain attention and build an authentic connection with your audience.
Whether you’re producing documentaries, events or exhibition installations, starting with the strategic approach to visual storytelling will enable you to communicate effectively with your audience.
In this way, the story can truly connect with your audience, so that they will share your vision, ensuring that ‘no one is left out of the party’, and it can bring the desired outcome for future brand growth.
In this blog, we’ll share how you can create an optimal communication strategy in visual storytelling. Using these simple design strategies and visual communication methods will let your story perform as it should and keep your audience coming back for more.
How visual storytelling becomes memorable
According to Dale’s Cone of Experience by Edgar Dale from the University of Kentucky, we experience and remember these texts depending on the format presented to us.
It’s said that when we read texts, we remember just 10% of the content. This number triples when we are exposed to images.
But what is most interesting is that when we engage with the content and take action, we remember significantly more- up to 90%.
Effective visual storytelling changes the audience from passive to active
Visual storytelling can be in many forms, such as videos, animations, infographics, a series of photos and illustrations and typography.
Effective visual storytelling drives an emotional response, educates the audience, builds accountability and trust and enhances the Call to Action even within the story (without a button to click through).
For example, let’s say that you watched a visually intriguing documentary.
Although the topic itself seemed interesting, you didn’t learn, understand or feel involved in the story. You didn’t engage with its meaning, and you wouldn’t recommend it to friends because you weren’t sure that it would be helpful for them.
The storytelling narrative fell short. What was the problem? It didn’t move the audience from a passive role to an active one.
The documentary might have shown quality images while the topic was complex. But it didn’t explain and engage sufficiently to support the audience in getting involved. That presentation might be continued with a bunch of inconsistent and non-inclusive images that confused the audience.
How to style communication in storytelling
1. See the picture from a bird’s eye view and work from the goal
Visual storytelling isn’t always structured according to the traditional storytelling arc, especially for educational or informative content including documentaries. Start by seeing your big picture from a birds-eye view (far away enough to create a map), determine what you want to achieve, and work from there.
2. Understand your audience
Consider the following points below and how your audience will react emotionally and cognitively to your message. Think of various scenarios, why they’d participate in your story, and what they expect by experiencing.
● With consistent style following the branding of the story, picture what the audience wants to know and how they experience and respond.
● Be mindful of their knowledge regarding the topic you are presenting in the story. For example, skill level (are they a beginner or advanced?), experience (senior or junior?), ability, individuality and background.
● Be aware of the questions the audience might have, what they might oppose, what they might be confused or struggle to communicate with and respond to any complaints, feedback or requests they might want to raise throughout.
3. Circulate the flow of communication
Clarify your goal and purpose, and then create a flow in the engagement process. This feedback loop will build trust and strengthen your storytelling brand.
Stage 1: Attraction
Unify the design direction and the brand vision and be consistent with the presentation. This will ensure your communication triggers emotion.
Stage 2: Entertain and engage
Avoid playing it safe by picking generic assets in the last minutes. Be creative in the way you explore and utilise various mediums to make sure your message resonates with your vision and your audience.
Stage 3: Learning
Consider why they might want to invest in this story. Focus on the essential points in your message and simplify. For example, three consistent focused images can explain your message more effectively than ten inconsistent generic images.
Stage 4: Guiding the audiences’ interaction
It’s also important to make space for the audience to interact. We need to understand their background, motivations and even concerns then tailor guides that consider who they are and how they want to interact. This guide can take various forms such as animation, infographics, typography, characters and visual effects.
Stage 5: Action
Whatever creative style you choose, make sure your audience is comfortable, resonates with what you are sharing and is truthful to your brand. This should not be limited by the particular moment or place where displays are; the story remains as memory and evolves through shares, references and recalls.
4: Making visual communication inclusive
Making storytelling inclusive is essential to communicating and building trust with a diverse audience. Asking the following questions whilst working on visual ideas from your narrative concept can help define the approach for the audience.
- Can people understand what you are saying?
Emotional connections are crucial, but are you telling your audience what they want to know? Don’t just think about the whole story’s meaning but consider every individual scene.
- Can they see your point?
Does your audience understand the message you are trying to share? Make sure your presentation has one focus at a time. Avoid enhancing everything at once or trying to fill every gap with lots of information.
- Does your audience need help with words, images, objects, scenes and mechanisms?
Whether technical, educational or emotional stories, make sure unfamiliar things are explained clearly with guidance, making them easy to understand.
- Can your audience interact effectively?
Ensure that even the seemingly small aspects of your content can perform within limited time and space. Check the movement of the image position of the subject, whether they can follow and consider display duration, legibility and clarity.
- How will they take action?
Consider how the audience can get involved and how you want them to take action during or after interacting with the story. Think about how you can help them take both logical and emotional action
- Is your content inclusive?
You must recognise the individual needs of your audience if you want them to engage consciously or subconsciously. Speak their language, show how your content benefits their lives and get feedback from a diverse group of people to ensure you are creating the most inclusive and engaging content possible.
Visual storytelling is the profound way you can spruce up your content and create an environment of belonging using the art of communication. Its role isn’t just to attract and entertain people but also to take them on a journey.
It starts by evoking their emotions, getting them to engage with the topic and driving an interactive ‘experience’ that resonates with your audience.
Applying these techniques above can help to keep the audience riveted and create a reliable reputation. By seeing the bigger picture, understanding your communication flow and producing inclusive communication, you can drive engagement, enhance your branding and add value to your audience.
Want to create effective branded visual content for your documentary, exhibition or event whilst keeping inclusion in mind? Get in touch.
We’ll bring your story to life and design engaging storytelling.