Visual Television Message
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32. Visual Television Message

A Child Shall Lead Them

Child Toy Dressing TableA visual television message describes the broadcasting of images through which one conveys information. A few years ago, one of the leading advertising agencies published a booklet entitled, "And a little child shall lead them to your product." It 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 did so. Such was and is the power of the TV message today.

Need a Vehicle

Boy Whispering in EarPastors, Sunday school teachers, home meeting leaders and youth leaders within the church 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 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 adequately 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 I will require double this time. 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 most significant 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. Homemakers 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 street activity without turning their 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 Undoubtedly 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 society's good or bad. The shape of a television screen conveys 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 and word form. Our visuals must be well made, attractive, and bright to compete with the expected norm in our society, television.

Subconscious Associations

Television ScreenKnowing that television greatly influences most people 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, exciting, 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.

"Visual Television Message"
by Ron Meacock © 1982-2021

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