This is the key point I took away from an event on ‘Communicating Effectively’ by Intelligence East Midlands held in Nottingham last week.
Specifically, we looked at better ways to present information, ideas and data in presentation slides structured on the golden thread:
- Tell a story
- Awareness of cognitive load
- One big thing you want the audience to remember
While the focus was on designing presentation slides, much of the learning was relevant to communicating ideas through narrative and data in other content types.
PowerPoint by death through endless bullet lists read out in a monotone voice, complex charts illegible to people sat beyond the first row, cramming slides with every idea you have — all these familiar scenarios went in the bin and we started from scratch.
Hans discusses social and economic development since 1858 using visualised data in Gapminder to tell a compelling story of how (and when) he thinks India and China will outstrip the US as the world’s dominant economic forces.
Using a clear narrative, one big idea and interesting visual slides – with a fair bit of personality, he’s an effective public speaker with his own style – Hans delivers a compelling message.
The slides, structure, physical on-stage props such as a wallet and pointer, and his words all play a part in taking the audience through a story to a specific conclusion. Hans wants to persuade the audience of his belief that India and China will outstrip the US as the world’s dominant economic forces, predicting the date this will happen.
Clearly, we’re not all as experienced at presenting as Hans, but the example video kickstarted participants at the Communicating Effectively event into new ways of approaching a presentation.
Also, communicating trends in social and economic development with supporting statistics is a fair proxy for Regional Observatories’ work. There’s a lot Observatories can learn from these techniques.
I’m not going to round up the rest of the day in this post, as there are lots of resources from the event already available at effcomm.posterous.com.
However, I’ll highlight the presentation design crib sheet of 10 facts to remember, as I think it’s very useful:
- Go analogue: pen, pad, post-its or pencil, get planning with your PC *off*.
- Who’s your audience?
- What one BIG THING do you want them to take away?
- Use stories, not abstracts. An example of your work is much more memorable than generalities.
- Keep it brief.
- Keep it simple. One idea per slide = good.
- Minimal text on a slide. If they’re reading, they’re not listening.
- Use large (30pt+), Serif (Tahoma, Verdana, etc.) font so easy to read. Try not use to Arial, it’s over-familiar and will blunt audience’s interest.
- Images: fill the screen with good quality, relevant pics to support your points.
- Takeaway *document* – any details you can’t fit into a broad-brush presentation can go in here. (No slide print-outs!)
If you’re interested in learning more about this area, do have a look at the resources shared on effcomm.posterous.com.