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<xTITLE>The Impact of Visual Storytelling</xTITLE>

The Impact of Visual Storytelling

by Jeffrey Krivis, Mariam Zadeh
October 2008

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 is the author of two books: Improvisational Negotiation: A Mediator’s Stories of Conflict about Love, Money, Anger—and the Strategies that Resolved Them, and How To Make Money As A Mediator And Provide Value To Everyone (Wiley/Jossey Bass publisher). He has been a successful mediator and a pioneer in the field for twenty-five years. Krivis serves as an adjunct professor of law at the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. He is also an Emeritus member of the board of visitors at Pepperdine. 

Jeffrey is also a past President of the Southern California Mediation Association.


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 Jeffrey Krivis at First Mediation Corporation. Since joining Jeffrey Krivis, Mariam has successfully mediated employment, class actions, commercial, premises & professional liability, mass torts, medical malpractice, ERISA and other tort actions as well as matters pending on appeal. In 2007, Mariam was featured as a “Rising Star” in the Southern California Super Lawyers magazine and was profiled by the Los Angeles Daily Journal. She is a published author and frequently lectures and teaches at ADR workshops and classes throughout California.