“Numbers Do Not Stick In Your Mind – Pictures Do.
Mark Twain

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” is about 75% true.
There are Power words that override the pictures because they are
associated with our past experiences and emotions, and Fight-or-Flight.

Bill Gates turned Microsoft away from Nerds Only, toward universal
appeal by making Windows work by Icons (symbols, pictures). Point-and-click the icon and anyone can be computer literate, right?

Fact: our brain does NOT think (process) information in numbers or words. When we read, listen, and speak, our brain translates words into Sensory Representations (See-Hear-Touch-Smell-Taste). Pictures are the most common form.

Meaning and Perception

Words get translated from an alphabetic system of letters to (auditory) sound vibrations, (kinesthetic) feelings and emotions, and (visual imagery) the picture equivalent of words.

Have you recently tried to remember the meaning of a word – example: Hermaphrodite, in reference to the South African winning runner – and blanked. You went on to something unrelated and later heard the answer in your mind’s ear.

You hear – “Oh yeah, having both male and female sexual organs.” Sometimes a picture flies into your mind’s eye with the correct answer. We see the answer.

Upward words

There are power words that automatically present the brain with a mental movie
definition. Comprehension is instantaneous. Example: Metaphors – He is the Babe Ruth of salepeople. She is the Julia Child of home chefs.

Examples: Similes are Figures-of-Speech: He lies like a rug. She is an American Beauty Rose. He looks like a Sherman Tank.

Action Verbs

Reading, hearing, and speaking the following action verbs, affects us emotionally. We actual feel these words in our Central Nervous System. Running, Lifting, and Throwing, together with Smelling, Tasting, and Driving make us feel these words.

Scientists talk about Mirror Neurons: neurons (nerve cells) that fire when the doer
(Quarterback throws a pass) and when the observer (fans) sees the action. Imagine
watching an Olympic weightlifter raise 1,200 pounds. The viewer grunts as if he/she
is lifting the 1,200 pounds. We are mentally (emotionally) involved in the action.

This is a Secret – Always Include a Story

Remember this: if you wish to influence, convince, and persuade an individual
or a group, always tell a story – don’t explain. Describe what happened, use sports analogies, sights and sounds, and mention people who acted and were acted upon.

Since kindergarten we expect to hear a beginning, middle, and the end (punch line). Repeat the moral or point of your tale at least twice. Get the listener or reader involve in caring what happens to the characters. Oversimplify whatever you want folks to do and remember.

Oversimplification is what makes Oprah, Dr. Phil, and Jay Leno superstars. Folks
(from 6 years old to Seniors) hate complexity and complications they do not immediately grasp, without thinking about it. Scientists Think, the rest of us just Get-It-Or-Not, and cannot be bothered thinking.

The burden is always on the Speaker or Writer, not the listener or reader.

If the listeners/readers have to analyze your ideas, 99% will instantly reject the message and the messenger. You must make comprehension As-Easy-As-Pie, A-Walk-In-The-Park, and No-Effort-Required. If it seems the least bit complicated, 99% of folks hit the mental Delete button.

Words Vs Pictures

Imagine in your mind’s eye a full-page picture of Adolph Hitler. He is wearing the standard brown shirt, showing his odd mustache, and hair falling over his forehead.
Now across the picture in large white letters have the name Dwight D. Eisenhower.

What happens? Your PreFrontal Cortex (higher executive brain) language center automatically overrides the picture with the name (words), and rejects the picture
and its information. You have Cognitive Dissonance (conflict) and words win.

You know the name D.D. Eisenhower (U.S. General of Allied armies in World
War 2) and your brain rejects the picture information identification.

Now imagine a full-page pix of President Barack Obama, and across it the name
in large white letters – Abraham Lincoln. Can the picture override the words - Abe Lincoln?

We are conditioned to identify and relate specific images with symbolic words and names. The name and avatar of the President is stored in your long-term memory. Here - words supersede pictures. Pictures are not worth a thousand words.

Anger Can Improve Your Skills

Have you ever watched a golf match where a superstar like Tiger Woods lost his
self-control. He became angry at an official’s ruling, and stormed around giving in to his impulses. Logic would expect him to be stressed and blow the next shot.

In fact anger can improve and sharpen our thinking and behavior. Who says so?
Google: Psychological Science: Hedonic and Instrumental Motives in Anger Regulation, lead author, Maya Tamir, Boston College.

Michael Jordan was angry and frustrated by being cut from his high school basketball team. He waged an internal war to prove to them he was a potential star.
His anger carried him to the Hall of Fame.

Anger can motivate you to work harder, study longer hours, and sharpen your thinking to ace exams. You can overlearn study material and enhance your skills to

Examples of anger spurring ordinary folks into extraordinary action is common in publishing. Writers have had their book reject by 35 publishers, and continued to work with diligence to have the books reach #1 on the N.Y. Times Bestsellers list.

Anger with existing social conditions created the successful Civil Rights and Women’s Rights movements. Google: MADD – Mothers Against Drunken Driving
and PETA – People For Ethical Treatment of Animals. Their anger brought success.


Would reading three (3) books, articles and reports, in the time your peers can hardly finish one, give you a completive edge in school and career? Ask us how to
double your long-term memory, and triple your text reading. Is it important?

See ya,

copyright © 2009 H. Bernard Wechsler

Author's Bio: 

Author of Speed Reading For Professionals, published by Barron's.
Business partner of Evelyn Wood, graduating 2 million, including the
White House staffs of four U.S. Presidents. Interviewed by the Wall
Street Journal and Fortune Magazine.