Almost every piece of advice I give in communications will include the idea that you need to use more images to be an optimal storyteller. In fact, I mention it so much, you might be tired of reading about it. But it’s an area where so many churches still struggle today. Whether it’s online or in print communication, your organization can likely be using more images. Here are some reasons why.
Images create an anchor point for a story. Your audience, whether it be your congregation or a new visitor to your website, will be more compelled by image driven stories than long paragraphs of text. Images let you set the tone for your communication. A picture of a person gives a great starting point for the story you’re telling about them. A well-designed illustration can help create an image for what you’ll be talking about in an article. Let images do your introduction to set the framework for what you’ll be saying next.
People have short attention spans. A recent study showed the average attention span is eight seconds. What do you think will grab someone’s attention the quickest, a paragraph of text or a compelling image? It’s important to think about how you’re crafting your initial messages. What can you show and quickly say that will cause people to want to dig deeper into your story? Images with limited text are an intriguing entry point that makes people want to read or watch more.
Pictures give a glimpse of who you really are. There’s a key point to be made here. You can’t tell your true story with stock photography. Paid images have their place, but a major piece of being authentic is showing real people in true settings. Good images give people an instant understanding of what they’ll experience if they visit you in person or attend an event.
We are living in a visual culture. I often hear people say, “If there is not a picture, it didn’t really happen.” Smartphones put a camera in everybody’s hand. Newer social media platforms like Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest are all image or video based. And updates to Twitter and Facebook put emphasis on visual aspects, too. Images are an expected norm in today’s communication culture.
I fully understand that adding more images to your communications might feel like more work. Yet often times, the simplest solution is just remembering to take some pictures at your next church event or gathering. It does take a commitment to think strategically about gathering images and your church may need to set a policy on how you do it. Ultimately, I think you’ll find using images actually means you have to write less. And more importantly, it will give you a far better chance of creating something people