As I’m on a one-woman mission to rid the world of boring PowerPoint presentations, this TED talk by science writer John Bohannon made absolute sense to me. Explaining complex concepts has never been so beautiful.
Today I bought Paul Arden’s book, It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be. I finished it on the 20-minute train journey home. Arden worked with advertising agencies, including a 15-year stint with Saatchi & Saatchi. There he came up with some of the best known straplines in advertising (“the car in front is a Toyota” being just one).
The book is full of wisdom on cultivating a creative approach at work. It’s as useful for most managers as for art directors and copywriters in an ad agency, I believe.
One page is worth repeating. It concerns presentations.
How many speeches have you heard? How many of them can you remember?
Words, words, words.
In a song, we remember firstly the melody, and then we learn the words.
Instead of giving people the benefit of your wit and wisdom (words), try painting them a picture.
The more strikingly visual your presentation is, the more people will remember it.
And, more importantly, they will remember you.
“Young children love to draw. Hours are lost immersed in the glorious world of imagination, and this activity plays a vital role in their development. But as adolescents, most of us stop. Inhibitions creep in and ideas of good and bad terminate confidence. At this point, many will insist they cannot draw, yet still turn to drawing when their verbal language fails or is inadequate. We do not hesitate to draw a map, for example, to help a stranger see their way.” Sarah Simblet – The Drawing Book
In the short (6 minute) TED talk I’ve included below, Tom Wujec talks about how the brain sees in order to make meaning.
Anyone who does presentations, holds team meetings or needs to tackle problem solving (so that would be all of us then) might find this interesting. I am on a one-woman mission to rid the world of PowerPoint slides featuring text, text and more text. (Usually in a tiny point size chosen especially so you have no chance of seeing it from the back of the room.)
“When it comes to memory, researchers have known for more than 100 years that pictures and text follow very different rules. Put simply, the more visual the input becomes, the more likely it is to be recognized and recalled. The phenomenon is so pervasive, it has been given its own name: the pictorial superiority effect, or PSE.” John Medina, Brain Rules.
The message is clear. If you’re trying to commit information to memory, pictures win hands down over text every time. I found this out for myself when I embarked on what turned out to be many years of studying about 10 years ago. I only intended to take one course in psychology out of interest, and that turned into a degree followed by an MSc. I needed a way to somehow simplify, organise and learn the mass of information that was hurtling at me.