Garr Reynolds has a great blog related to the professional design of presentations. In his August 12, 2011 post he writes about the power of faces to capture and direct the attention of the audience. People are hard-wired to spot faces. Once attracted to a face people then follow the gaze. Garr’s posting provides the evidence of this and a wide range of examples, well worth taking the time to look through.
When putting together the visuals for a story I’ve often found myself recommending to people to drop the smiling lady’s face. On many occasions I’ve worked with people who have an intuitive feel that a face will add to the attractiveness of their visual but have not thought through enough the reason why. We often see a pretty face attached to content to attract the audience’s attention, but ultimately, we will recognize it is here being used as a marketing attractor.
A more powerful use of a face is when we use the person that the story is about. To use the face as an attractor for attention, and then the gaze to direct the attention to the start of the story that we want the audience to follow. This personalization also feeds into generating a greater connection with the story at a subjective and emotional level.
I wholeheartedly recommend taking a look at Garr’s blog and also considering how best to use the right faces in your own story visuals.