Humans have selective attention. And they have a bad capacity for processing information. But: If you can get their attention and help them process what you show, humans have excellent long-term memory. Professional Explainer Connie Malamed is here to give tips on how to use visuals to really pass across your message.. Welcome to ATD TK15 session W400.
According to our speaker, there are 3 basic (good) ways to pass across information: Story, graphs or data representations, and diagrams.
Stories are good for creating emotion. If it really IS a story. A real story has a situation, complication and resolution, with a character/protagonist that achieves a goal. That IS the story: How the protagonist deals with the complication. During the session, Connie showed us some beautiful examples of comic book style stories.
Graphs are an excellent way to show data. If you get it right. According to Cleveland and McGill, our understanding of data changes dramatically depending on the type of graphic used. Humans can deal with position and length easily, but not so well with volume.
Malamed says that, although very fashionable, info-graphics are actually pretty bad for recall. They look nice, but they don’t serve the basic purpose of a data-driven graph. If a graph is to get and keep attention and create recall, it needs to SHOW the viewer the shape of the numbers. Personally, I found Zelazny’s book on charts quite handy.
Diagrams are also really good, if you use the right one.
Our speaker noted 5 different types of diagram and gave some basic rules to follow.
As I write this blog-post, I realise that as a reader it might be tough for you to get some real learning from it. Connie Malamed’s session was quite simply brilliant. But it’s difficult for me to summarise all the guidelines here (live). Look below and you will find a lot of references to help inspire and instruct you.
The basic message is this: How you visualise things DOES make a difference. As a trainer, I pay a lot of attention to my flipcharts, even if they are mostly text based. Connie has got me inspired to go further…
Further references you might like:
- Katie Stroud’s 2014 ICE session on “How to convert your learning into story, step-by-step” : https://dansteer.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/how-to-convert-your-learning-into-story-step-by-step
- Technical explanation of comic book visual layout terms and “guidelines” : http://www.bigredhair.com/work/comics.html
- Cleveland and McGill’s research on graphical perception (what works and what doesn’t) : http://www.cs.ubc.ca/~tmm/courses/cpsc533c-04-spr/readings/cleveland.pdf
- Book “Say It With Charts” by Gene Zelazny : http://www.amazon.com/Say-With-Charts-Executives-Communication/dp/007136997X
- Some of my nice flipcharts, in case it inspires you : https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B6bnuojL6SjLWU02VUt1d2NoY1E&usp=sharing
- Massive amounts of content from Connie Malamed: http://www.thelearningcoach.com/explanations
Thanks for reading