I’m so envious of people who love to read; who have physical and digital libraries full of books they’ve read and can brag about recite in conversation with other readers. But, in my 30+ years of life, I’ve come to accept that reading is just not one of my strengths.
I’m a slow reader, which is frustrating, and the biggest reason for not sharing the affinity of my fellow readers. Throughout school, I had adopted a strategy of reading in a poorly-imitated British accent. For whatever reason, it seemed to at least keep me focused and progressing from one page to the next. Only over the last few years have I realized why I’m a slow reader…and fortunately for me and my job, why I’m a good proofreader. I’m a visual person. When I “read,” I now understand that I’m actually just seeing the words as images. I pay more attention to the type, leading, spelling, and paragraph spacing than I do the context of the words. So, when I finally conclude a chapter of a book (several pages of which have probably been read-over twice), the plot of the story has most likely been lost on me. I can, however, show you every instance of a misspelled word.
But alas, there seems to be hope for us non-readers.
Our agency has been talking about how visual communication is becoming even more important in today’s culture and pace of life. Emily Reeves, Stone Ward’s Directory of Digital Strategy & Planning, recently shared this Fast Company article amongst our staff and I, personally, was elated to hear that “social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest have helped usher in visual marketing as the breakout trend for 2012.”
In researching some of the psychology behind visual communication, some interesting facts emerged:
- Research by 3M Corporation has proven that we process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.
- Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about 7 bits of information (plus or minus 2). This is why, by the way, that we have 7-digit phone numbers. Images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they are indeliby etched.
- According to psychologist Albert Mehrabian, 93% of communication is nonverbal.
So, can we communicate with images alone? Not exactly – or not always. While visuals can be processed faster and retained more easily, the lack of words can also often lead to ambiguity. A fact I’m sure our copywriters are pleased to hear. And unless Pinterest continues to take over the world, I see more pseudo-British reading in my future. Cheerio!