Without Words, Stories Will Wither


words wither1 Without Words, Stories Will Wither

By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

“We hear the mantra everywhere: make it visual, use more pictures, forget text–it’s all about images,” said Neicole Crepeau in her recent blog post, In the Age of Images, Why Words Still Dominate.

Throughout her weighty article, Neicole addresses the image-crazy digital world we live in, with social sites like Facebook and Pinterest touting the value of images and even in some cases, limiting the amount of text.

Probably her most compelling quote follows: “Yet, with all the hype about images, it’s still words that dominate.” And, she supports this assertion with evidence that consists of a visually stunning report where many of the images contain prominent text, as well as supplementary content.

She concludes, “While images are engaging, they generally can’t convey information as well as text. In fact, the images that convey the most information are graphs which contain text without which the image would be useless.”

WORDS ADD OOMPH AND CONTEXT

Hear hear! I couldn’t agree more with the messages Ms. Crepeau parlays. While personal, business and marketing-related pictures on Instagram and Facebook make us smile, think and/or roll our eyes, it’s the words that accompany those pictures that create context, add oomph and zero in on the sharer’s more focused intention. Moreover, most graphics’ appeal is dependent upon the words in the sidebar, accentuating the static lines, colors, shapes, people, animals and other items. While a picture may capture a ‘frame’ of action (i.e., a dancer with a flowing skirt or a vase crumbling), the words provide context and detail to propel that action.

WORDS SPUR ACTION

Words are not evil: This was my response recently when (yet another) careerist recapped their friend’s misguided assertion that “your resume must never exceed two pages.”

In fact, words, and the intricate, ebullient and flowing stories comprised of those words, add value, sell ideas, influence action and drive emotion. Trying to mash your story into a tight box creates a staccato buzzword-ish type of outcome and strips the story of rich detail and sensibility.

Moreover, if built strategically, a story (resume, business marketing website/letter or other influence piece), is laced with sizzling headlines and attention-grabbing graphics — and once the audience is reeled in, the reader desires more content and needs more words to drive deeper into the who, what, where, when, why and how. They want depth and breadth, they want conflict, drama and resolution, all which whet and satisfy the appetite. From there, they are convinced that either this person or this business is a match (or near-match) for them, or they are not.

WORDS AND IMAGES ARE INTERDEPENDENT

This interdependence between images and words is important in reining us in in our attention-deficit Internet world. For many who have caught the social media ‘bug’ for the past few years, we are getting weary of sound bites and quick fixes. Instead, the pendulum is swinging back to center where words are a centerpiece for solid, meaningful communication.

With this in mind, I challenge you to examine your current career, business and personal marketing strategies. Do your stories sing? Do they mesmerize the audience you wish to attract? Or, are you as Neicole Crepeau says (summarizing) “putting the focus on using more images instead of using images better?”

Instead, thoughtfully put your value into words to provide substantial results. Nourish the roots of your message to grow a healthy, robust story that deepens your value, sells your business’ solution and otherwise sparks a fire in your reader!

5 Responses to “Without Words, Stories Will Wither”

  1. Hi Jacqui,

    Wow! This is a very well-written piece and spot on with its message. Word are very powerful tools that we use (and abuse) every day of our lives. I love your response to the ‘two page’ stickler – “intricate, ebullient, and flowing stories”. Beautiful.

    I think the image craze is (in part) borne out of a growing laziness of our culture. Many people would rather just look at a picture rather than put forth the time and energy it would take to read and comprehend the full message from text copy.

    A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but those words simply cannot precisely convey the true meaning and implications of a message or story the way the right words can. I’m all for images and take care to add just the right one to my posts and other content. I think the perfect image, paired with the best words for the story make for some truly engaging reading that informs and drives action.

    Well done!

    • Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, Master Resume Writer says:

      Samantha,
      Thank you for taking time to articulate your valuable insights over here, with other readers, and with me!

      Yes, unfortunately the ‘growing laziness of our culture’ remark rings true. I think we all can do a better job of concentrating on quality communications vs. chasing that ‘quick high.’

      Your mention of “a picture may be worth 1,000 words …’ quotation is spot on – those words cannot ‘precisely convey the true meaning and implications … the way the right words can.” Bingo!

      Elated when you dress up my blog posts with your engaging thoughts and words!

      Jacqui

  2. Marianna says:

    Jacqui, you and I sit on the same side of the fence when it comes to our love of words. Words can paint a picture, even when no picture is available. Words evoke emotion, putting us in touch with our feelings, propelling us into action.

    What’s more, words set the imagination roaming – that’s one of the reasons I like to read the novel before seeing the movie.

    Words are also fun, like one of the words you’ve used – ebullient. Just saying the word puts a smile on my face.

    Thank you for being the word master (mistress?) that you are. (By the way, have you read a Prayer for Owen Meaney?;)

  3. […] Don’t (ever) give up. If you know you are good at telling a story, influencing people to buy-in and getting others to understand the why, then you may be a great […]

  4. […] Don’t (ever) give up. If you know you are good at telling a story, influencing people to buy-in and getting others to understand the why, then you may be a great […]

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