According to psychologist Albert Mehrabian, when we communication emotional issues, the words we use aren’t nearly as important as the way we say them, which in turn doesn’t matter nearly as much as our body language and facial expressions while we say them. In other words, tell someone he’s as popular as a finance officer at a brainstorming session, with the intonation of wishing him happy birthday and he’ll shake your hand, do it with open arms and a smile on your face and he’ll probably kiss you.
So presumably the opposite is true as well. Letting mum know how wonderful that cup of tea was in a growl that would make Christian Bale blush, while scowling and tapping your foot is unlikely to get you an invite to Sunday dinner.
As copywriters, when we diligently scribe our carefully curated copy, we don’t have the luxury of intonation or a friendly smile to help get our meaning across. Or do we? Surely, our intonation is the line breaks and paragraphs we use, while our facial expressions and gesticulations are transmitted via graphology and the layout.
The exact percentages Mehrabian gave, were facial expressions 55% and tone of voice 38%, which left only 7% of the total meaning to come from the actual words used. That’s not really much when you consider all the effort we put into choosing, refining, and arranging them.
I don’t think we can transpose Mehrabian’s percentages exactly when it comes to the written word, but I think it is safe to say that layout is certainly important for getting your work read. Your headline may catch the eye, but it’s the layout and ease of reading which will draw someone in and make them read your wondrous words.
In short, be good to your graphic designer and start talking to him about layout before you start writing anything. Words can move mountains but only if people read them, and for that you need to make sure the design looks first rate.