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The Impact of Visual Storytelling

From the First Mediation Blog of Jeff Krivis and Mariam Zadeh.

This 1936 photograph of Florence Owens Thompson, a poverty-stricken migrant mother, came to symbolize the Great Depression. By Dorothea Lange/Corbis.

This 1936 photograph of Florence Owens Thompson, a poverty-stricken migrant mother, came to symbolize the Great Depression. By Dorothea Lange/Corbis.

The power of visual information while not easily quatifiable, can be utilized quite effectively at the negotiating table to shape and shift another’s perception of the matter at hand. Glenn W. Richardson, Jr. discusses the power of visual information and the relevant supporting scientific data at length in his article on visual storytelling published in the American Communication Journal.  In his article, Richardson discusses several studies which have linked vivid visual information with heightened memory and recall, finding that visual scenes served to enhance the verbal story line. He goes on to explain that this results from the brain processing visual information holistically rather than deriving meaning exclusively from narrative linkages.

Consider for a moment a person you haven’t seen in a very long time. Now try to describe what that person looks like. You may find this difficult to do. Yet, there is no doubt that when you finally do see this individual again, you will be able to immediately recognize most if not all of the ways that they’ve changed since your last encounter. This is because visual information is often processed in terms of how it fits or deviates from existing patterns. Thus, just because someone cannot articulate or recall the details of a particular visual communication, such as a PowerPoint presentation or photographs embeded in a brief, does not mean that the communication was ineffective or failed in its impact.

On this note, we leave you with a slideshow of the 25 best news photographs as determined by the editors of Vanity Fair – each of which tell a very compelling story.


Jeffrey Krivis

Improvisational Negotiation. This phrase summarizes Krivis’ philosophy for a successful and dynamic mediated negotiation. A successful mediation needs both keen legal insight gained from years of litigation experience and cannot be scripted. Exploring this idea with further study led Krivis to venture on the stage as a stand-up comedian. Ultimately,… MORE >


Mariam Zadeh

Mariam Zadeh was an active trial lawyer in New York City until September 11, 2001, at which time her life was dramatically changed. She moved to Los Angeles, obtained her L.L.M. in Alternative Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University, and became a partner with… MORE >

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