Telling Visual Stories

Graphic recording, Terry LaBan, Philadelphia area graphic recorder, Breakthrough Visuals, sketch notes, illustrationPeople were telling stories with images long before they could write them with words, images we can still see on rocks and in caves all over the world. The invention of writing meant you no longer needed an actual person to explain what was going on, or even images at all. But today visuals are perhaps more important than ever. On the web, blocks of unadorned text are apt to be ignored and few web pages can expect to retain eyeballs without at least an image or two. Communication featuring the interplay of text and images, once rarely seen outside the comics pages, is the basis for entirely new types of visual stories on the web, like infographics and whiteboard visuals, and in the real world in the form of graphic recording. Visual stories could even be considered the native narrative structure of the internet itself.

You simply can’t expect to hold people’s attention today unless your message is illustrated, which is why graphic recording, another form of visual storytelling, is so effective.

Visual stories—narratives that use both words and images equally-have a number of advantages.

Visual stories are concise.

Visual stories communicate quickly and directly. Design constraints limit the use of text, meaning only what’s absolutely essential gets included.

Visual stories are holistic.

Text and images work together, using parts of the brain that neither would engage on their own and allowing for the apprehension of subliminal information as well.

Visual stories are engaging.

 Words and images together, whether on a web page or a whiteboard, are irresistible attention-grabbers. Viewers will begin reading visual stories just to find out why they’re there, and by the   time they’ve satisfied their curiosity, the message has been delivered.

While visual stories can appear simple, it’s not simple to create them. Understanding how to use images and text together within a visual structure—what to show or not show, how to maintain a clear narrative and avoid clutter and confusion—take a great deal of design sense and storytelling experience. A designer or graphic recorder also needs to have a deep knowledge of symbols and signifiers and understand how they’re normally understood. And finally, there needs to be an overarching style or “voice” that gives the story a personality beyond the narrative itself.

At Breakthrough Visuals, we have a solid grasp of all these elements, and if you like our style, we can tell you for sure you won’t find it anywhere else. If you’re looking for a graphic recorder to turn your speaking event or brainstorming process into a visual story or infographics, whiteboard videos or cartoons for your company’s website, we’re here to help. Get in touch today!