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.

Reading from powerpoint slides is a heinous crime

POINT ONE: Presentations are about IDEAS, not TEXT.

POINT TWO: READING from SLIDES is a heinous crime.

POINT THREE: PEOPLE cannot COPE without some kind of visual STIMULATION.

Presenting the abstract pointillist powerpoint toolkit. 20 slides that can be used for any presentation. Cut, paste, copy, crop the slides to create an abstract of your ideas that you can then talk to and through.

(thanks)

The no-bullet presentation

A presentation that practices what it preaches on limiting the use of bullets in presentations.

See also:

Words and visuals: Why are you there?

Is PowerPoint a blessing or a curse?

Pecha Kucha – the 20×20 presentation

Is PowerPoint a blessing or a curse?

This professor’s class notes provide a thorough (and practical) answer that I recommend to students and professors.

See also:

PowerPoint creators: Tufte is right, but…

Presentations and that creature called PowerPoint

and

How NOT to use PowerPoint for comic relief.

How NOT to use PowerPoint

Related posts:

PowerPoint creators: Tufte is right, but…

Presentations and that creature called PowerPoint

Words and visuals: Why are you there?

How do you set people on fire?

PowerPoint creators: Tufte is right, but…

All the things Tufte says are absolutely true. People often make very bad use of PowerPoint.”

Mr. Gaskins [one of the creators of PowerPoint; see below] reminds his questioner that a PowerPoint presentation was never supposed to be the entire proposal, just a quick summary of something longer and better thought out. He cites as an example his original business plan for the program: 53 densely argued pages long. The dozen or so slides that accompanied it were but the highlights.

Since then, he complains, “a lot of people in business have given up writing the documents. They just write the presentations, which are summaries without the detail, without the backup. A lot of people don’t like the intellectual rigor of actually doing the work.” (…)

Now grade-school children turn in book reports via PowerPoint. The men call that an abomination. Children, they emphatically agree, need to think and write in complete paragraphs.

Still, the men don’t appreciate PowerPoint being blamed for crimes it didn’t commit. Mr. Gaskins studied a vast collection of presentations before designing the program. Bullet points, he says, existed long before PowerPoint. (…)

If they have a lament, it’s that complaints about PowerPoint are usually not about the software but about bad presentations. “It’s just like the printing press,” says Mr. Austin. “It enabled all sorts of garbage to be printed.”

As Mr. Gaskins puts it: “If they do an inadequate job with PowerPoint, they would do just as bad using something else.” (WSJ)

==

PowerPoint’s history

austin-and-gaskins-2.jpgRobert Gaskins, a former Berkeley Ph.D. student, conceived PowerPoint originally as an easy-to-use presentation program. He hired a software developer, Dennis Austin, in 1984 to build a prototype program that they called “Presenter,” later changing the name to PowerPoint for trademark reasons. PowerPoint 1.0 was released in 1987 for the Apple Macintosh platform; later that year Gaskins’s company Forethought and the program were purchased by Microsoft for $14 million. The first Windows and DOS versions of PowerPoint followed in 1988. PowerPoint became a standard part of the Microsoft Office suite in 1990. According to Microsoft, more than 30 million presentations are made around the world with PowerPoint every day. (source and photo credit: UC Berkeley)

Related posts:

The guru of quantitative information display

Presentations and that creature called PowerPoint

Words and visuals: Why are you there?

How do you set people on fire?

How do you set people on fire?

[from a blog that I am closing] Why is persuasion so difficult, and what can you do to set people on fire? A master storyteller believes that executives can engage listeners on a whole new level if they toss their PowerPoint slides and learn to tell good stories instead.

In his best-selling book Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting, published in 1997 by HarperCollins, Robert McKee (the world’s best-known and most respected screenwriting lecturer) argues that stories “fulfill a profound human need to grasp the patterns of living—not merely as an intellectual exercise, but within a very personal, emotional experience.” A digest of thoughts appeared in a HBS Working Knowledge interview.

The book is almost 10 years old but the message remains relevant because it addresses a “profound human need”.

Related entries:
Speaking is NOT writing

Presentations and that creature called PowerPoint