I have a bit of advice for any presentation professionals out there who might be listening. It could help you explain to a client, or potential client, why you are so vitally important–or, maybe reinforce your career decision. The next time you face a skeptic who is not sure you are worth the money, or is not resonating to your brilliant ideas, tell them to consider the complexity paradox.
When they say they’ve never heard of it, which they will because they haven’t, explain to them that the complexity paradox is one of the defining attributes of our modern world. Go ahead, lay it on thick. Tell them that it is a phenomenon well-understood by few and poorly addressed by most. They should be hooked by now, so lean back in your chair, look professorial, and say, “Increasing complexity demands increasing simplicity.”
Before they have time to respond with “ah”, “oh” or “hunh?” expand your explanation by telling them that the more complex a system becomes, the simpler the processes for understanding it must be. If they still aren’t with you, whip out a few pithy examples. Explain how we frequently use metaphors to reduce the difficult complexity of one thing by directly comparing it to the familiar simplicity of another. All the world’s a stage. Love is a flower. War is Hell. There goes the ballgame.
Point out how in the hands of a professional simple images can convey complex messages with vivid clarity. That is what charts, graphs and diagrams do when they are well designed. Remind them that physicists and engineers routinely reduce vastly complex equations into simple animations in order to grasp what is happening. The greater the complexity, the simpler the visualization required. You might also explain how psychologists and biologists are trained to identify simple patterns in order to understand complex behaviors. The list goes on. By now they should have the point.
Close the deal with the statement that you are in the business of addressing the complexity paradox. You make the complex simple so that your clients and their audiences understand faster, make better decisions and take more effective actions.
And be aware the real value of citing the complexity paradox is not that it will make you sound erudite or even that it might get you that job. The real value lies in the fact that the world is getting more complex by the nanosecond, and for presentation pros that reality translates into job security.
Posted by Robert L. Lindstrom at 8:03 PM .
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. –Marcel Proust
This post should not be written.
It should be depicted. A video. A slideshow. Sketches on a cocktail napkin. Charades. Anything other than letters, words and sentences. Why? Because, according to the nearly 400 people who gathered at the first annual VizThink conference in San Francisco, we comprehend better, learn faster and communicate more effectively when we do so visually. Writing about a visual thinking conference is like singing a P&L statement, or designing an integrated circuit using mosaic tiles. It’s not the right medium for the message.
But, having no immediate access to a camera and lacking the drawing skills to make even a stick figure look like a stick, words must suffice. Or, here’s an idea. Stop reading right now and visit www.vizthink.com. The website, wiki and blog have plenty of visuals. Lots of color. Even some video.
The timing of VizThink, a first-of-its-kind conference for visual communication specialists that launched in January, is non-coincidental. It didn’t just happen because a bunch of visualistas wanted it to happen. It had to happen. Its rationale is so obvious it almost sounds silly when spoken out loud: to promote a global community of visual thinkers.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Robert L. Lindstrom at 8:33 PM .
1 Comment »
I’ve been impressed by an online video editing and archiving tool that lets you create a
“private label YouTube” – check it out.
Posted by Tom Bunzel at 4:45 PM .
Slideshare is like Flickr or YouTube for your slide presentations. Upload them, link to them, enter them in contests and see what others are doing.
Posted by Robert Befus at 9:02 AM .
1 Comment »
For those who have admired Xcelsius but have been afraid to learn it or unwilling to buy it, now you can download the new FREE light version that comes with lots of tutorials.
Posted by Tom Bunzel at 2:16 PM .
1 Comment »
For those interested in presentation best practices the issue always arises what is the most effective way to avoid stale bullets and sameness in slides. Inevitably the issue of creativity and resourcefulness leads to the concept of metaphors and analogies – using images or diagrams. The problem for non-artists or designers like me is where to get the nuts and bolts building blocks of these types of tools.
Recently a colleague, Gene Zelazny, the author of Say It With Charts! put me together with an entrepreneur who has launched an interesting site in this space. PowerFrameworks is an online gallery of conceptual metaphors in the form of PowerPoint shapes, professionally designed and ready to download into your presentation. The site also features concrete examples of how the metaphors can be implemented, and even a best practices section mirroring many of Zelazny’s own principles.
Kathy Villela, the site’s founder, actually worked at the consulting firm where Zelazny has worked for decades before beginning this site. Her concept, and what I like about the site, is that it is more than a gallery of shapes or clip art; it is also well constructed and searchable and mentally stimulating.
Posted by Tom Bunzel at 2:49 PM .
1 Comment »
My new business book about PowerPoint is now available to read online. “Solving the PowerPoint Predicament: Using Digital Media for Effective Communication” is not a book specifically about PowerPoint, but the use of the program with third party tools to convey a message for business, academia or religious content. You can also buy the book on Amazon.
Posted by Tom Bunzel at 1:00 PM .
I’ve struggled with the dual-screen (multiple) monitor feature in Windows for the past year. After a coworker showed me this feature on a job I was working, I was anxious to learn how to do it because it looked so cool! Well I found out that it wasn’t such an easy task… Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Mary Waldera at 9:40 AM .
6 Comments »
From “Top Ten Truths About the Digital Ecosystem“, a recent post on the Dealing with Darwin blog:
“10. Images are king. Verbal content, by virtue of its sheer volume, is increasingly perceived as noise. We are entering a new era of collage, where the mind of the viewer is the assembling artist. Verbalization happens post facto, the residue of headline skimming and subconscious synthesis. The esthetics of digitally enhanced images will become increasingly powerful as a vehicle for cutting through the clutter. Manipulating semantics or semiotics via images will become increasingly sophisticated, both in the private and public sectors. High-definition displays and portable form factors will be popular mass markets. Indexing and searching images, on the other hand, while technologically interesting, will be of peripheral impact.”
Posted by Lee Potts at 8:00 AM .
Sociable Media’s Cliff Atkinson is featured in an LA Times most emailed story featuring his work on the Vioxx litigation.
Posted by Tom Bunzel at 12:00 PM .
[Thanks to Jason Simmons of GradientLabs, who sent in this site in an email titled, "Yowza!"]
If Edward Tufte is the master teacher of visualizing data, then VisualComplexity.com is the treasure trove of data-driven visuals.
"Complexity is a challenge by itself," writes Portugal native, Manuel Lima. This project to map the maps that illuminate intricate networks has grown out of Manuel’s work at the Design+Technology program at Parsons School of Design, where he earned an MFA.
Currently working as an interaction designer at R/GA Interactive, Lima has created VisualComplexity as an integrated and extensive resource on the topic.
However, it often looks more like an exquisite butterfly collection. The resulting gallery of images is a powerful–and beautiful–filter through which one can see the invisible webs that connect the systems we depend upon: the biological, the cosmic, the financial, the social.
"Complex Networks are everywhere. It is a structural and organizational principle that reaches almost every field we can think of, from genes to power systems, from food webs to market shares."
Posted by Peter Durand at 11:45 PM .
Warning by Nicole Recchia (published by Mark Batty*) presents a compact collection of those ubiquitous warning signs and labels that are meant to make the world safer for people and, perhaps more importantly, to protect corporations from the dangers of litigation. It is of interest to presentation professional for several reasons.
First of all, it’s a graphically striking book as well as a very entertaining “read”. There’s something about the way the imagination automatically constructs narratives around these sparsely drawn and uncaptioned scenarios that absorbs your attention (even as you are repelled by the thought of just how horrible the events that inspired the need for these warnings must have been). Perhaps this inherent horror contributes to the tendency that makes some of the examples abstract to the point of incomprehensibility. Recchia’s clean, uncluttered layout does a good job of letting the images speak, sometimes incoherently, for themselves. To be fair, it should be pointed out that this lack of context might add to the confusion.
Warning is also a place to start if you are ever faced with the task of developing highly stylized graphics that consistently transmits a message in a non-language dependant way. Actually, it might be as good at pointing out what techniques to avoid as it is at providing inspiration.
The real warning here is, of course, to be careful about assuming how an image is going to be interpreted by an audience. A picture might be worth a thousand words, but in some cases it might be a different thousand words for each person looking at it.
*Who kindly provided a review copy.
Posted by Lee Potts at 11:00 PM .
Congratulations to Terry Irwin and Julie Terberg whose book ‘Perfect medical presentations: creating effective PowerPoint presentations for the healthcare professional‘ won first prize in the prestigious British Medical Association’s 2005 book competition in the ‘Basis of medicine‘ category.
Thanks to Perspector’s Steve Hards for the heads up on this one.
Posted by Lee Potts at 10:22 PM .
1 Comment »
A few of you have expressed some lingering doubt about my qualifications as Professor PowerPoint. Now it is official — my new educational template has been published on the Microsoft Assistance web site with my by-line — it is a seating chart for teachers to use in the classroom. So far there have been more than 4000 downloads — go figure. (Another one on long division is not far behind.)
Posted by Tom Bunzel at 4:33 PM .