EurekAlert reports on visual information processing research taking place at Kansas State University. Apparently all those scrolling screens and news tickers that have become very fashionable on TV news broadcasts actually decrease a viewer’s ability to process information.
We discovered that when you have all of this stuff on the screen, people tend to remember about 10 percent fewer facts than when you don’t have it on the screen,” Grimes said. “Everything you see on the screen — the crawls, the anchor person, sports scores, weather forecast — are conflicting bits of information that don’t hang together semantically. They make it more difficult to attend to what is the central message. … The human brain is today as it was in the 1880s, the 1580s and in the time of the Greeks and Romans. It has not changed. We are no better able to parallel process conflicting information now than we were 300 years ago.
These techniques migrated to the news outlets after having much better success on MTV. As the MTV generation makes it’s climb up the corporate ladder, we are seeing an increased call to adopt techniques like these to presentation formats that would traditional be more static. Although the conclusions reached in this study are not completely surprising, they serve to remind us that the audience and the message must be the most important considerations in every decision regarding every element placed on the screen.
An article based on this research is slated to be published in the July issue of Human Communication Research.
Posted by Lee Potts at 1:48 PM .
1 Comment »
One area which readers of this web site may want to address is the flip side of being visual — namely the occasional or frequent need by a presenter to show actual numbers. There is still no excuse, however, for not using some creative tools and techniques to show data in a dramatic and effective way. Three tools that complement PowerPoint in this regard are:
Infommersion Xcelsius — which creates interactive dashboards out of Excel spreadsheets and allows for instant scenarios. The product is exported in shockwave which makes it work in PowerPoint or a web page. I cover a complete Xcelsius solution in my article “>Taking on Tufte at the InformIT web site. There’s also an article on Getting Fancy with Xcelsius.
I am also a big fan of Microsoft Visio, which goes beyond PowerPoint in enabling smart diagram objects that actually hold data and can generate reports as spreadsheets from visual objects in the diagram. The InformIT site also has a brief intro to Visio, and I suggest the piece on Creating a Report.
Finally when it comes to presenting data a resource I highly recommend are the books by Gene Zelazny, namely “Say It With Charts!”. Zelazny has some very specific ideas on how and why to create certain visuals, and if you follow his logic you will generally have the perfect visual for the set of data (and argument) you want to present. Again, at InformIT, I cover his material in an introductory article.
Gene has a new workbook out now based on his concepts.
That’s my take on creative and effective data display. Comments are welcome as always.
Posted by Tom Bunzel at 12:46 PM .
In CityPaperOnline, columnist Joab Jackson wrote in 2001 about a woman who uses PowerPoint to “decomplexify” family life and discipline her children. Cyberpunk Column
Makes one ponder what other areas of life might be ripe for a PowerPoint presentation:
PowerPoint Sutra: Sweetheart, in this bar chart you will see that my sex drive has increased at a compound rate of 37% daily in the past two weeks. (next slide) This Screen Bean of a man ranting and waving his arms visually depicts my growing frustration level. (next slide) As you can see in this pie chart, sex represents only 3% of our total activities. Compare that to 18% for meals with your family and a whopping 26% for clothes shopping. (next slide) This image of a flat, windless sea is a metaphor for our sex life. (next slide) This picture of crashing waves and a rainbow of sea spray signifies our project objective. (next slide) This is a montage of images from the The Kama Sutra, the manual of erotic love written in India in the 2nd century BC, to be used as reference material. (next slide) This is a picture of your favorite restaurant. (next slide) This is a picture of that emerald bracelet you’ve always wanted. (next slide) That’s me on my knees praying in church. (END SLIDE SHOW)
What other aspects of our lives might benefit from PowerPoint?
Posted by Robert L. Lindstrom at 10:53 AM .
ICIA Presentations Council Webinar – May 3rd at 1:00 PM Eastern
This summer at InfoComm, the Presentations Council of the ICIA is presenting a one-of-a-kind professional development opportunity for presentation media professionals. It all happens in Las Vegas on June 7, 2005, during Presentation Super Tuesday at InfoComm 05.
On May 3rd, the Presentations Council will host a preview of Presentation Super Tuesday featuring Bob Befus (Technology), Nancy Duarte (Design), Fred Barnes (Presentation Skills Coaching) and Jim Endicott (Communication Strategy).
Don’t miss this unique opportunity to preview the new Presentation Super Tuesday session!
To register, please send an email to Ellen Weber at email@example.com.
Posted by Lee Potts at 4:16 PM .
“…there are still grown men and women in business suits crawling around on the floor…”
Over at Contact Sheet, Scott Steffens makes an interesting observation about accessing networks cables in corporate meeting rooms. My guess is that many of us are experiencing the retrofitting phase of conference room wiring on a daily basis. Infrastructure is still catching up with the technology and inertia is built into most buildings. Most of the rooms I’ve worked in that have been designed and constructed or renovated in the last couple years aren’t too bad. It’s the rooms that existed long before anyone even had a laptop (and that remain neglected for any number of reasons) that can bring me to my knees (both literally and figuratively).
Posted by Lee Potts at 9:55 PM .
Does anyone remember the LCD panel? I remember the first time I saw one perched on top of an overhead projector. The resolution of the projected image was atrocious and the image was dark with poor contrast. I remember thinking “This is what all the digital projection fuss is all about?” At that moment in my mind, the 35mm slide (and our lucrative slide imaging operation) appeared to still have a long and profitable life ahead of it. Within less than 5 years, we had completely shut down our slide imaging and film processing operations.
I had a strong sense of dejavu as I was looking over some of the recent concepts in palm projectors and phone projectors. One might be tempted to think that the quality and brightness of these devices are way too poor to use for anything other than personal or novelty uses. When you look at these tiny projectors, remember that the beautiful bright images beaming out of our digital projectors today started with the grotesque images from LCD panels not that long ago.
The Mitsubishi Palm Projector
The cell phone projector
Posted by Robert Befus at 4:53 PM .
I have long observed the growth of the event planning industry and wondered how I might fit my skills as a technologist specializing in presentations into it. Today’s Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on an awards show dedicated only to event planners. Several of the big winners were in the corporate arena. I am wondering whether any presentation pros have managed to make their expertise available successfully to this industry.
I am sure that the AV people among you have mined this mother lode. But I am wondering more from a technology/presentation area if anyone has been successful, and if so, how they did it and what specifically they were able to offer. Thanks.
Posted by Tom Bunzel at 1:24 PM .
Gary Zeune runs an interesting speakers bureau called Pros and Cons, where his speakers are convicted of crimes and caution corporations on how to avoid them. link. From time to time he shares intriguing PowerPoint questions and issues and has come up with an animated table comprised of multiple individual tables. I suggested the usual workarounds of using a rectangle to cover portions or duplicate slide to create multiple slides and remove unwanted rows or columns, and thought I would share his solution and the discussion. Also since his site is so unusual, I thought I would mention it here. Here’s his ppt file.
Posted by Tom Bunzel at 11:49 AM .
Last year during an ICIA Presentations Council Webinar, I introduced attendees to There…a virtual world for chatting, playing and spending (real) money.
At the time, I suggested that in the not too distant future there would be 3D virtual meeting spaces. There are now several available. After getting demos, I found Workspace 3D the most interesting.
Posted by Robert Befus at 9:15 AM .
2 Comments »
New technology will increase disc storage 10X. Data is burned onto a CD “standing up” instead of “lying down”. I didn’t even know my data has just been lounging around the CDs I burn. Well not anymore. Here is a fun animated explanation. Make sure you have Flash and your audio is turned up.
Posted by Robert Befus at 9:02 AM .
1 Comment »
Kevin Kelley’s Cool Tools blog points out these terrific Write-on Poly Static Cling Sheets. The folks who suggested these seemed pretty enthusiastic:
Polysheet instant whiteboards are thick, static-laden sheets of plastic, like ultra-heavy garbage bags. Just unroll one, slap it on the wall, and instant whiteboard! Best of all, in the corporate world, at the end of the meeting, you can roll them up, take them back to your desk, and process them. After capturing the contents in your computer, wipe them off for next time!
Posted by Lee Potts at 4:05 PM .
3 Comments »
Cliff Atkinson, who oversaw the design of the popular ICIA Presentation Council’s Industry Infographic is hosting a web seminar on May 12 titled "Transform Your PowerPoint Beyond Bullet Points".
I’ll begin the session by quickly reviewing a typical bullet-laden presentation that we’ve all seen too many times before. Then I’ll apply the approach described in my new book to spin it into a new communication experience that balances the emotional power of visual storytelling with the focused clarity of logical reasoning.
I’ve always valued Cliff’s insights into the presentation creation process so this should be very interesting. It looks like the seminar is in support of his new book published by Microsoft Press so I guess congratulations are in order as well.
Posted by Lee Potts at 4:06 PM .
Now it can be told and revealed. Check my story on InformIT for the full details of Microsoft PowerPoint Secedes from MS Office. Suffice it to say that this is huge, HUGE, HUGE — only my sources in the PowerPoint community let me reveal the sordid underbelly of what has been festering in Redmond. Here’s a hint — check the package of the next version of Office and guess what WON’T be there. Read it all now! (It’s all there with the full final slide show from the PowerPoint team).
Posted by Tom Bunzel at 5:05 PM .
3 Comments »
Talk about fish out of water – I am a regular attendee at a show in L.A. called Digital Hollywood. Most of those present, including press, are looking for answers or solutions to digital delivery at the very high end of the broadcast/film and music spectrum.
There are panels on HD formats, new DVD formats, music distributions strategies, online games, and so on. So what’s a guy who teaches Microsoft Office and PowerPoint presentations to glean from all this?
One thing that struck me is the overused word “convergence”. A colleague Bob Befus of Presentations Strategies in Durham, North Carolina (a firm that specializes as a one stop shop for high end corporate events and provides solutions from AV to internet broadcast and conferencing) has spoken of the convergence between AV (audio-visual expertise) and IT (the realm of information technology professionals).
Well at Digital Hollywood, where technology used to be a dirty word along with the word “digital” in the entertainment industry, IT professionals are now among the attendees. I spent some time talking with Vice President at Universal Music group who is an ex-musician who became a computer programmer and now runs IT for the music division of the studio.
He was telling me a bit about how he and his colleagues had finally succeeded in having the entire music industry (including Apple’s iTunes) adopt a new standard for meta-language to tag and identify musical tracks.
To an Office user this is sort of like having the entire computer and PDA industry adopt one standard database format for contacts and calendars so that any snippet of contact or appointment information can be understood by any device or program, including Outlook. Kind of a far fetched dream for technologists (until the advent of XML), but in the entertainment industry, where things have to work out of the box the compelling aspect of consumer demand made this standard happen. (It only took three years to adopt).
Perhaps more interesting from a presentation standpoint was the presence of a broadcasting company with a product that really may belong at InfoComm.
Continental Vista Broadcasting offers a suite of products that enable anyone to broadcast interactive video on the web with additional features like chat, polling, advertising – using features they call “Talk2Event, Talk2Advertiser, chat rooms, forums, polls, surveys, real-time tickers, live statistics, an emotion meter, an interactive advertising window, contests, auctions, online donation acceptance, and e-commerce.”
In some ways this reminded me of the MediaSite product from Sonic Foundry, except that it provides a similar set of services from the perspective of a broadcaster rather than a technology company. But the results are the same – viewers can actively participate in a broadcast.
Why can’t this broadcast just as easily be a corporate presentation rather than what is commonly considered entertainment? In fact one of Continental Vista’s niches is what they call academic and corporate education. The demo is a fully branded interactive broadcasting portal for a client (LexiPoint) which offers premium on-demand seminars.
Now there is no reason why such a set of content offerings could not just as easily supplement or convey real time meetings for a pharmaceutical company or provide training seminars for an automobile manufacturer.
Not surprisingly Continental Vista’s product is a proprietary media player that incorporates technology that uses standard Flash MX-based files along with any other standard video format as input.
Got PowerPoint – use one of the many PowerPoint to Flash converters or output key slides as bitmap images.
I know what you’re thinking – how much does this cost? Like anything marketed in the entertainment industry “it depends”. But among Continental Vista’s clients are some academic and religious institutions that suggest that pricing models can be compatible for high end presentation projects.
How does this translate into marketing for presentation professionals? Here’s a suggestion – instead of saying to a client that you will provide them with AV and presentation services for their event, you tell them that instead you will provide the with a network for online and on demand broadcast of their content, which will include full interactivity, polling and chat.
The results are essentially the same, with the same features currently contemplated by any event planning unit. But for the recipient or viewer they don’t think of it as technology (and complex) but they see it as TV broadcast online. And for the client I would suggest the prestige of being a “broadcaster” greatly trumps the cachet of being a presenter.
Instead of being Professor PowerPoint you are now Ted Turner. (A legend in your own mind, which is a good way to position a client).
Posted by Tom Bunzel at 4:13 PM .