Take the Mona Lisa. Who hasn’t gazed into the eyes of this mysterious female and wondered what she’s thinking, what da Vinci thought as he painted her? And yet, although the questions are many, the image speaks for itself and words seem unnecessary. The mood is clear, the emotional effect visceral. Words would only muddy the waters.
And remember the last time you stood in front of an exhibit at the science museum, the one depicting the passage of time since Earth’s formation? Remember that small segment which represented the age when humans were introduced into the mix? Would the words, “humans are thought to have appeared a mere 200,000 years ago, while the Earth is said to be millions of years old,” produce the same effect?
Now let’s switch tracks to something less beautiful, yet even more powerful, the photos of a crime scene. There’s a reason those photos are introduced to a jury. The reason has to do with the power of images that transcends all words.
Courtroom visual aids introduced to juries in civil cases can be just as powerful. These visual aids could include annotated photographs from a forensic engineering inspection, technical illustrations showing the motion of a complicated mechanism, or scale models that put very large or very small objects into perspective.
We live in the Visual Age, there’s no denying it. And studies show that attention spans just keep getting shorter.
So the next time you want to get your message across, don’t tell them what you want them to know, show them. Give them something interesting to look at!