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The Power of Infographics

07-05-2015

By Kevin-James Fenech 

I recently stumbled upon a blog by a certain Mia MacMeekin and entered the world of infographics. I must admit that I am intrigued by it all. I am impressed with how powerful and simple infographics are or can be. 

Don’t get me wrong: I have seen infographics before but I never knew they were called that, nor connected the dots to appreciate how powerful and relevant they could be for business. 

The first infographic that caught my particular attention, and inspired this article, is ‘Rethinking Innovation’ by Mia MacMeekin and she capably came up with 27 different ways how to be innovative. 

What I like about infographics is their application to the business world. I consider a company, a place where people come together to achieve a mission and implement a strategy and they constantly achieve this feat by communicating to each other as well as with their customers. Communication and understanding each other is therefore paramount. Yet, I’ve often felt and vented my frustration that current tools of communication (the dreaded power point presentation, the annual report or even management accounts) are not ideal for this purpose. I, therefore, see a lot of potential in infographics. 

The idea is simple: complex ideas are broken down and explained by means of visual images intertwined with key words. 

Infographics are not a new concept (some might even refer you to 1626 when a certain Christopher Scheiner first published the ‘Rosa Ursina sive Sol’ and made good use of illustrations to show the sun’s rotations) but it is a fact that infographics have struggled to become mainstream in the business world.

Until recently, it was perhaps the lack of easy-to-use ‘free’ tools, which prevented the popular take-up by business but nowadays there are a multitude of sites offering infographic templates, some even of the open-platform variety, which render the whole process much easier.

Personally, I am going to give it a go, since visual images empower the communicator and leave a bigger impact on the target audience. 

To be fair, suave marketers have been toying with infographics for a while now, and to great effect, but I do think that infographics have a much wider application. The business world should take note and embrace. 

Check out, or Google search, ‘Your Life in Weeks’ and you will know what I mean. In this infographic, Tim Urban graphically represents one week in your life by a dot and highlights some of the major milestones in your life with colours ranging from your early years, to your schooling years, career and finally retirement. In words of the creator: ‘It kind of feels like our lives are made up of a countless number of weeks. But there they are – fully countable – staring you in the face.’

The image is very powerful. 

Alternatively, go to ‘Thirteen Reasons why your brain craves infographics’ (http://bit.ly/1GTRqaM) since this example not only explains why I am harping on about it but it also neatly explains the subject matter.

Here is a snippet: the use of visualised information since 2007 has increased 9,900% on the Internet. Why? Because we are visually wired i.e. almost 50% of your brain is involved in visual processing, 70% of all your sensory receptors are in your eyes and we get the sense of a visual scene in less than 1/10th of a second. I’ll stop here otherwise I’ll spoil the surprise. 

I see huge potential for local business and encourage the MT business readers to investigate further, explore and experiment. Who knows, we might even start seeing the MT making good use of infographics.

When communicating to your work colleagues the purpose is for the audience to understand what you are communicating so they can then think about it with positive endeavour and together you can decide on the next best course of action. Infographics give you that power. 

We have all heard the phrase ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’. Well just imagine how much you can say in a presentation of just four slides using infographics. 

Let’s face it, in the world we live in we are all suffering from information overload and therefore the more visual your message is the more likely you are to have an impact and for people to remember what you said. 

To me, it’s a no brainer: if you want to be more competitive, and by this I mean employees communicating more effectively amongst themselves and/or with customers: infographics is the way forward since people remember 80% of what they see / do, 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they read.

Source: http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/business/business_comment/52672/the_power_of_infographics#.VUsiudOqqko