Why use visual storytelling?

Ever sat in a meeting and experienced death by PowerPoint?

Received a 100 page report and wanted to face plant the desk?

Bombarded by stats and got temporary amnesia?

In each of these situations, vital information falls on blind eyes and deaf ears due to overwhelm and a lack of clarity. This leads to stalled action, missed opportunities and stagnant business progress.

 Visual storytelling solves these problems.

Visual storytelling uses the power of pictures to communicate complex ideas simply. It distills important information into its simplest pictorial form - the visual - whilst taking readers on a relatable journey through the content - the story. This journey can be metaphorical - like using an iceberg to represent hidden issues below the obvious answers - or literal - following a character through a common experience.

Here's why it works:

  • We process visual information quicker than text - 90% of information processed by the brain and 93% of human communication is visual (Pant, 2015). Visual information is allegedly processed 60,000 times more quickly than text, although this figure is up for debate (Lile, 2017)).

  • We retain visual information better - we are 65% more likely to recall visual content after 3 days than text (Medina, 2018).

  • It engages audiences effectively - content with visuals (images, videos etc.) gets 94% more traffic online than plain text (Pant, 2015).

  • Our brains are hard wired to remember stories - stories follow a predictable pattern that is easy for audiences to understand and relate to (Rodriguez, 2017).

  • Stories evoke emotion and emotion drives us to action (Rodriguez, 2017).

So a visual story is processed more quickly, remembered more easily and drives audiences to action more readily than reams of text. (The irony being that this article is primarily written text, but none of us are above the omnipresent SEO gods ;)). 

Well that all sounds great, but how do you use visual storytelling practically?

You could use it to:

  • Communicate complex ideas simply to an internal team, like a change in strategy, work flows and intricate processes. Here’s an example of explaining data processing within the Ministry of Justice using visual storytelling.

  • Engage your target audience more easily in information that is sometimes hard to access, like health research outcomes for lay audiences and patients. Here's an example of a visual story with the University of York, explaining how the elderly can fund the cost of their social care.

  • Illustrate a project journey to demonstrate its impact, like collaborations that have resulted in positive outcomes internally and externally. Here is an example of communicating research impact from the White Rose partnership by taking readers on a literal and metaphorical journey.


  • Showcase and explain what you do quickly to prospective clients through a visual story animation (see an example here).

  • Use a live scribe (a visual storyteller recording an event in real time) to capture your event, meeting or conference that summarises key themes, so new connections can be made between ideas to solve problems more effectively. Here's an example from a conference at University of Leeds that demonstrates how to engage UK Parliament in social research.

  • Implement visual thinking principles in your decision making processes to gain clarity, join up processes and make better strategic decisions.

In sum, visual storytelling:

  1. Uses the power of pictures to make the complex, simple

  2. Works because it engages our brain more quickly and easily than text, and plays on emotions to drive audiences to action

  3. Can be used internally and externally to better communicate key ideas for your business

So, want to make your ideas visual? Get in touch to tell your story visually, today.