Tuesday, September 04, 2007

PowerPoint Tip: Ideas from 5,000 years ago

We can learn valuable lessons from how humans communicated 5,000years ago. At that time, formal written language was not wellestablished, so how did people communicate? They used pictures andstories. They drew a picture on a cave wall and told the story ofwhat was depicted, whether it was hunting, family relationships orother important ideas.

One of the ideas I'll be sharing at the Think Outside The Slideworkshop later this month in Seattle is what we can learn from thismethod of communicating. Today, let me share a high-level lessonlearned by thinking about communicating through cave drawings.

Some people might refer to cave drawings as primitive. I am notsure I agree. I think what people even back then realized, is thatvisuals are powerful communication vehicles. So they drew withdetail and used vivid colors. They did it so well that the drawingsstill exist today.
Once the drawing was complete, they told the story of the event theydepicted. The story referred to the drawing, but added details andcontext that the drawing could not. The audience listened to thestory and looked at the drawing when it was important to do so.

Is this how you use visuals? Are they well drawn, clear and willthey stand the test of time? Do your explanations add color andcontext to the visual? Is the visual secondary to the point you aremaking or do you hide behind the visual as if it was more important?

Difficult questions to answer honestly. But ones that force us toconsider the role we assign to visuals in our presentation. At theworkshop, we will be spending time on thinking visually. You'll seeexamples, hear how to make different visuals effective and practicethinking visually in exercises.

If you haven't registered for the workshop on Friday, September 28thin Seattle, WA, I suggest you do it right now. Spaces are limitedand you won't want to miss out because you delayed. Here is thelink: http://www.ThinkOutsideTheSldie.com/powerpointseminar.htm .


Blogger Kathleen said...

I LOVE the analogy of the cave drawings but I disagree with one thing: I do not think they were detailed, and I think that is why they are successful. They are simple, boiled down versions of a detailed event. They succeed the same way our safety signs succeed -like the hand on the Crossing Signal of an intersection. But, back then, cave men made those drawings simple because they weren't able to do anything complex.

Today it's the opposite - it's harder for us to restrain ourselves from over-complicating our visuals, and leaning too much on our technology to tell the story, instead of the human standing at the front of the room. (Who has ever sent an email, when they could have just walked down the hall?) Technology will never be able to make eye contact with me, so I vote for the human to tell the stories.

I'll try thinking of my computer as my cave wall from now on... :)

5:17 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

There is nothing to comment. The only thing i can say is your Ist lesson is wonderful. I really enjoy reading and will try to upgrade my powerpoint program.

Thank You
Best regards Ragu

9:04 PM  

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