Television Visual Message
Next Previous Index Tellout Home

32. Television Visual Message

A Child Shall Lead Them

Child Toy Dressing TableA television visual message describes the broadcasting of images through which information is conveyed. A few years ago, one of the leading advertising agencies published a booklet entitled, "And a little child shall lead them to your product." This was an analysis of the television visual message coupled with the learning habits of children. It revealed that seventy percent of kids asked their parents to buy products advertised on television and that eighty-nine percent of the parents did so. Such was and is the power of the TV message today.

Need a Vehicle

Boy Whispering in EarThose within the church like pastors, Sunday school teachers, home meeting leaders and youth leaders who want to communicate a message need to have a proper vehicle, a medium, with which to do it. A medium does not automatically mean visual aids, for without them a speaker simply relies instead on his voice, his words, appearance, character and the form of his presentation to convey his message. He may have an excellent message, even a life-changing one, yet it will not be understood by hearers unless it is properly communicated. Here, our equipment and technique come to our aid, for they are the vehicles for one's message. By learning from the television approach, we can become so much more effective.


Speaker at PodiumA few Christian speakers snub their noses at visual aids because they are "gimmickry for the inadequate." While it is true that equipment can become a prop for the unprepared, it also follows that it can improve a good message and make it better. If I have to present a thirty-minute message on a subject, I realize that I will need to spend four hours or more on preparation alone. If I require visual aids, then this time requirement will be doubled. I am comforted to know that what Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) the English writer and poet said is true, "what is written without effort is generally read without pleasure." This principle applies equally to speaking and visual aids which are part of our overall message.

Visual Message

TelevisionTelevision's visual message produces television expectations and grabs our attitudes in the home and at work. One of the greatest sources of pleasure in the home aside from computers and handhelds is television. Children are hypnotized by a cartoon when nothing else will calm them. Adults are glued to their chairs at home for four or five hours of hockey or baseball. Housewives abandon all else so that they can take in the next episode of their favorite soap opera on TV. Programming rules our lives in North America where audiences number in the millions! We develop great expectations from our televisions.

People's Exalted Presumptions

Circus TentIn the old days, a traveling circus created a great stir in a town. The dog that could roll over on command and the clown who could balance a ball on a stick on his chin received tumultuous applause. What about today? The average person would walk past this kind of activity in the street without even so much as turning his or her head. At home on television, he could see a motorcyclist leap over sixteen buses or through a flaming ring of fire within a hair's breadth of a fiery death every night of the week on "That's Incredible" or "You Asked For It." Television has no doubt affected peoples' attitudes and expectations and as such we must "up our game" in preaching the Gospel.

Visual Shape

Newsreaders on TVThe subtle color, message and television's visual shape with rounded corners gradually mold our views on what is good or bad in society. The visual shape of a television screen is widely used to convey all kinds of messages. The newsreader at ten not only tells you about the story but takes you right into the action with a video clip. The weather forecaster not only explains what it will be like tomorrow but shows you a beautifully prepared visual with satellite photos thrown in for good measure. Yet what does that same viewer get from the Vicar in church? It is generally not the subject at fault, it is the visual presentation! To be effective, we need to present our message in picture form as well as in word form. Our visuals must be well made, attractive and bright to compete with the expected norm in our society which is television.

Subconscious Associations

Television ScreenKnowing that most people are greatly influenced by television brings us to another subtlety. Without thinking, people automatically tend to glance at a television screen when they enter a room. Subconsciously, they associate the rectangular television shape and rounded corners with well-produced, interesting and entertaining things. The current High Definition, 4D TVs are elongated and rectangular and sometimes slightly curved. The Christian worker can help to attract and hold his audience to his message by fabricating all his display boards and cards in the same general shape and appearance as a television screen. In many years in children's work and adult ministry, both inside and outside the church, I have seen this subtle trick work over and over again using rectangular display boards with rounded corners.

"Television Visual Message"
by Ron Meacock © 1982-2019

^Top Page Next Previous