The old adage, “one picture is worth a thousand words” is usually true, that’s why fundraisers use some kind of graphic to show how close they are to their goal. That concept gave rise to millions of .ppt files, entire industries dedicated to presenting information graphically, and billions of dollars spent annually to do it.
The best communicators use words to create pictures—images that are simple and graphic enough to create identical impressions in all the minds that hear/read them.
When I was recently asked for an example of this I offered my favorite, which is a version of an email that’s been making the rounds for at least a decade. I think you’ll agree that the mental image created would be universal—and very graphic.
Lipstick in School
According to a news report, a certain private school in Washington recently was faced with a unique problem.
A number of 12-year-old girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the bathroom. That was fine, but after they put on their lipstick they would press their lips to the mirror leaving dozens of little lip prints.
Every night, the maintenance man would remove them and the next day, the girls would put them back.
Finally, the principal decided that something had to be done. She called all the girls to the bathroom and met them there with the maintenance man. She explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the mirrors every night.
To demonstrate how difficult it had been to clean the mirrors, she asked the maintenance man to show the girls how much effort was required.
He took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet, and cleaned the mirror with it.
Since then, there have been no lip prints on the mirror.
This version ended with the comment, “Here lies the difference between teachers and educators.” I would add that here lies the difference between talkers and communicators.