Surprising Info: The Importance of Visual Input

The BBC reported last month on the surprising results of a scientific study published in the PNAS journal.  The study showed that, in a classical piano competition, judges use their sense of vision more than their sense of hearing in choosing a winner.  This occurred even as all of them asserted that they would rely on the auditory input over the visual.

They BBC article goes on to state “the findings had implications for other areas in life that rely heavily on visual cues, such as hiring employees or selecting political leaders.” (Sight Dominates Sound in Music Competition Judging, Hogenboom)  If even professional musical judges are leaning heavily on their sense of vision, I would imagine that your guests will as well.  So how can you provide a pleasing and appropriate visual impression at your next event?

Be intentional, consistent, and professional.

Be Intentional: Plan your visual representation, from lighting to banners to table placement.  Don’t think of this as a “tack-on” to your planning, as this study suggests this is of vital importance to the overall impression that you make.

Be consistent: choose a color scheme and use it throughout the event.  Your logo and fonts and marketing material should all present a united front.

Be professional: Hold yourself and your employees to a high standard. If dress or room setup looks sloppy, it reflects poorly on you.  It also says to a guest “We don’t know what we are doing” or “you don’t matter enough to us to get this done correctly”.  Neither a desired impression!

Areas that I often see lacking in the area of visual presentation are table setting, PowerPoint presentations and break out room set up.  I’m not sure why these three areas seem to suffer at many events, but they do.

Guests will spend a good deal of time eating, why not put some nice table cloths and fresh flowers on a table?  It says a great deal more than a plain top brown table!

PowerPoint presentations with no graphics and tiny font do not help communicate information, they just frustrate the user.  And finally, a breakout room half full of old equipment and stacked up chairs does not communicate good planning or intentionality.

You can help troubleshoot these areas by delegating someone to make sure that they are not overlooked.  How can you improve the visual experience for your guests?