Why Video Beats the Written Word When it Comes to ImpactVideo is a powerful tool, offering engagement potential that can outweigh that of long paragraphs or even succinct bits of copy. Its reach is vast—in fact, video giant YouTube has local versions in more than 70 countries and is navigable in upwards of 76 languages. On average, a visitor to YouTube spends more than 40 minutes watching video. That amount of time is significantly longer than 8.25 seconds—the average human attention span in 2015, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information—which is actually down from 12 seconds in 2000.

Why such a vast discrepancy? What keeps humans consistently choosing video over other communication mediums, even as attention spans dwindle? The reason is relatively simple: Video satisfies our physical need for visual stimuli while allowing us to connect more deeply with the subject matter.

The Emotional Element

Using text is still an effective way to engage an audience on an intellectual level. Video, on the other hand, can be engaging on an instinctive or visceral level, making it more memorable and impactful overall. Good video tells a story—whether it’s the story of a person, a business project, a product, a lesson plan or an entire brand—and humans are quick to emotionally connect to this type of storytelling.

All About Visuals

How the human brain reacts to visual stimuli has been studied on multiple occasions, and one theme is ever-present in the results of those scientific inquiries: We react quicker and recall more when we are given visual information. For example, MIT neuroscientists found that the human brain can process an entire image that the eye only sees for 13 milliseconds—87 milliseconds faster than previous studies suggested.

There’s more: Over half of the population reportedly learns better when visuals are included, both for classroom learning and less conventional educational experiences—think last year’s boring boardroom meeting! To be exact, the Visual Teaching Alliance reports that 65 percent of people identify as visual learners. Images (or videos) affect these individuals in the following ways:

• Motivates learning.
• Triggers emotions.
• Improves comprehension.
• Assists in quickly receiving and processing transmitted information.
• Commits more content to long-term memory.

A Personal Touch

There is still a place for textual communication, just like there is still a place for in-person communication. Well-done video can include parts of each of these methods, incorporating text when appropriate. Capturing a conversational, “in-person” quality to videos can help audiences connect to the content on a personal level. After all, humans respond to faces and are quick to both seek them out and listen to what they have to say—faces included in video communication are no different.

The Takeaway

The power of video has been studied time and time again. For example, according to Forrester Research, the chances of getting that highly coveted page one listing on Google increases 53 times with video. Forrester also reported that, overall, one minute of video is worth a whopping 1.8 million words. Combined with the popularity of YouTube and the emotional and physical explanations above, Forrester’s statistics prove that the impact potential for video is much larger than that of text or other graphical elements alone.

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