Communication Matters

Inspire Your Audience with Effective Visuals

5/25/2016

Inspire Your Audience with Effective Visuals

Audience

Most asset management professionals know it’s important to use visuals in client communications. Visuals hold the eye – and reader interest – better than a solid wall of words. To get the biggest bang from your visuals, you need to know what does and doesn’t work.

We asked Seth Feaster, who’s created interactive graphics for the New York Times and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, for his insight as a data visualization designer. His advice for financial firms:

  • More data isn’t always better: “Inundating people with a lot of information isn’t necessarily helpful to them, or to you,” he says.
  • Don’t overdo it. When the data tells a compelling story, the right chart or graph can highlight important numbers. But a graphic that’s too complex or worse, irrelevant – stuck in just to break up the text – can be counterproductive.
  • Know your audience. “One size may fit all, but it fits no one well,” Feaster says. “The best solution is less general but still simple variations targeted at major segments of the audience.”

Whether graphically or in words, clear communication should always inform your audience. To use charts and data for effective investor education, follow these basic rules:

  • Evaluate the impact of every image. For each visual, ask: does this have a specific purpose? Does it convey a precise idea clearly? Will readers with different frameworks understand it? If not, you’re better off without it.
  • Use a format that works for its purpose. Communicating trends over time is different than comparing specific data points.
  • Use persuasive data. Don’t overcomplicate visuals with data that’s too technical or requires long explanations.
  • Words still matter. A clever graphic will lose its impact if the writing around it is long, dense, or unclear.

To create top-notch graphics, you need someone who understands your business as well as the business of design.  Purcell Communications works with designers and data specialists to help clients effectively create and use visuals consistently.

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