Thinking visually

In my Business Communication class, I require students to give two (sometimes more) presentations using visuals… without words! Only graphs.

This forces students not to depend on powerpoint as a script and to rediscover -I hope- the power of images.

Logic+Emotion makes the point:

Effective communication is everyone’s job—whether you are trying to sell in a concept or convince a client. Visual Thinking can help us take in complex information and synthesize it into something meaningful. In an increasingly fragmented and cluttered world, simple imagery, metaphors and mindmaps can get people to understand the abstract and make your ideas tangible.

Nine-point checklist on presentations

Here’s my favorite:

Pay by the word. Here’s the deal: You should have to put $5 into the coffee fund for every single word on the wordiest slide in your deck. 400 words costs $2000. If that were true, would you use fewer words? A lot fewer? (…)

Words belong in memos. Powerpoint is for ideas. If you have bullets, please, please, please only use one word in each bullet. Two if you have to. Three never. (Nine steps to Powerpoint magic)

The girl effect

A presentation with written words only. Self-standing and brilliant.

Watch it… and do something!

thanks Rowan.

Robert McKee, master storyteller

On the nature of storytelling and its redeeming power (from an interview with the Screenplayers):

“Storytelling is the primary civilizing instrument in culture,” he said. He then quoted Aristotle: “‘When the storytelling goes bad in society, the result is decadence.’ The way out,” he continued, “is through great storytelling. It sensitizes society to the humanity in other people. Writers of the 21st Century will have to work harder.

On the success of his book and workshops (from a profile in the New Yorker):

I discovered this enormous hunger for what I thought was common sense, common knowledge (…). I’m repeating what I was taught, and then adding some little insights I’d had—but basically recycling Kenneth Rowe and John Howard Lawson and Aristotle, and putting it in a contemporary context for these people. I’m putting the obvious into a new context, and I see their slack-jawed, wide-eyed look, and their tremendous hunger to know what I knew. It’s obviously needed. I can see the emptiness out there.

A 10-minute interview on The Hour:

See also: How do you set people on fire?

Ignite: 5 minutes, 20 slides

If you had five minutes on stage what would you say? What if you only got 20 slides and they rotated automatically after 15 seconds? Around the world geeks have been putting together Ignite nights to show their answers.

A presentation like Al Gore’s

Nancy Duarte of Duarte Design, the company behind the slide show featured in An Inconvenient Truth, and author of slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations had this to say about delivering a successful presentation.

Show visuals that support what you are saying

The expression “Death by Powerpoint” often refers to this: slides showing the words that the presenter is saying.

These creative advertisements (and part 2) will help you think differently about the use of visuals.