Create meaning for your audience – be inspired by “The Beauty of Data Visualisation”

beauty_data

Images are becoming the new language of content communication.

As David McCandless says … “We are being blasted every day, all of us are being blasted by information design. It’s being poured into our eyes by the web and we’re all visualisers now, we’re all demanding a visual aspect to our information and there’s something magical about visual information.”

The fact that “a picture paints a thousand words” is now mainstream.

As speakers, we use them in our social media. We use them in our blogs. We use them in our presentations.

“By visualizing information, we turn it into a landscape that you can explore with your eyes, a sort of information map. And when you’re lost in information, an information map is kind of useful.” says David McCandless.

If you’ve watched this TED talk than you will know … if not, then watch right now, and know … that David McCandless inspires with his presentation style, and his amazing ways of designing infographics.

Be reminded of, and inspired by, the possibilities for you as a presenter, and renew your enthusiasm for creating graphics that will allow your audiences, the visitors to your websites and your social media peeps to understand that you have the power to create meaning for them.

Three vital elements of story for speakers

Combine creativity and the visual to reinforce your speaker memory

creativity_visualNobody likes a mental blank; not the speaker, not the audience.

As a speaker you really would like to remember all of the points that you so carefully researched and constructed and that you designed to work together to get your message across.

We all have our own ways of remembering our presentations and speeches. Some are based on our preferences for sound or images or body language. Some are simply based on what works for us.

I am working, at the moment, with a client who is moving away from a script to presenting in natural, unscripted language. She is a very creative person, especially in visual media – creates amazing paintings, patterns, and rejuvenates a flagging spirit with what she calls “creative time’ which might involve painting, or doodling or setting significant messages in a beautiful surrounding. I made several suggestions based on using visuals so that she could remember her speech and create useful, unobtrusive notes, and it was like watching a light bulb glowing. She is now in her element.

So for those of you looking for ways to remember your speech or presentation and to create prompts for yourself, here are 5 ways that visuals could work for you.

1. I will call the first one “mind mapping”. This involves “mapping” the ideas for your speech. Usually people put the central message in the centre, perhaps surrounded by a circle or border. Then they connect the points of the speech to the main message as one would spokes to a wheel. From those points, then, further connections reach out to the supports for the points. You can use decorations, colours, pictures, whatever most represents the content of each part, and the connections between them and the order in which you will present them. This is a standard mind map.

You might, on the other hand prefer to draw waves that represent the more emotional flow of the speech, somewhat similar to Nancy Duarte’s spark lines, or curves that represent a new point, or a change in direction of the speech. So each wave or curve represents the points to be made, the climax of the point that will really hook audience response, or the points of the presentation that represent, say, problems and solutions. Write the main message beneath the waves, perhaps, and transition techniques between the waves.

I simply use the sort of note-taking skills I learned in uni – main message at the top, then bullet point system for points to be made and further indented bullet points . I don’t use this system to creating slides, incidentally – yuk, how boring that would be, but it’s the way I learned to organise content and it works for me, in conjunction with other memory techniques.

So however you visually represent the flow of your speech or presentation, you can memorise that image, and the connections between its parts and that will be with you when you need to remember what to say next when you actually present. It will also be there with you, should you need to change the flow of the speech in response to the audience or the environment, and the logic will allow you to make the changes in a way that works for you and for the audience.

2. Visualisation. This is a technique used in many areas where performance is focused and adrenalin-driven, particularly in sports. And while it certainly involves the visual and imagery there are so many other aspects involved – training your subconscious to store what I call “muscle memory”, injecting positive emotion to reinforce the memories. For the purposes of this article, though, the visualisation involves using the mind’s eye or imagination to “watch” yourself as you present, your body language, how you appear on the “stage”, how you are interacting with the audience, and what you are saying. It also involves “seeing” how the audience is reacting to what you are saying, how the equipment is functioning, how you are using the particular setup in the room. I used it from the beginning, I think, of my speaking, long before the word became such a large part of our language, “visualising” successful presentation, and visualising overcoming the possible hurdles to successful presentation. It’s a way of committing the presentation to memory, and ensures that much of the presentation can be put into a state similar to auto-pilot while the front of your brain deals with interacting with, and customizing for, this particular audience.

3. For many people the simple act of writing something is a memory aid, but it can be combined with the visual memory. You can commit the look of the writing to memory, having simply written on a normal blank page. Or you can use the ubiquitous, totally indispensable sticky notes. Use colours, create patterns of shapes and colours, use diagrams on the notes, make diagrams with the notes, write a word or words for each point with points in one colour, supports in another, transitions in another. Lay out the whole speech, in point form, and that process alone may just be enough if you have a photographic memory. Or you can then transfer the whole thing onto a sheet or folder or series of cards to use as a prompt. Take a photograph of it, and use that. Your creativity comes into play, here, to learn, by trial and error, just what works best for you.

4. Maybe it is images that work for you. After all, ‘a picture paints a thousand words’, and our minds remember information better if that information is combined with an image. So you could use an image as a prompt. The storyboarding process that can be so useful for creating a PowerPoint presentation would work well here. One idea – one image, with maybe a word or two to reinforce the memory. Again – perhaps the creation of the storyboard will be enough, if the photographic system works for you, or you can use the board as a prompt. Or you can rehearse the presentation and when you know the points that will cause you grief, just use images for those. It’s all a matter of finding, through practice, what works for you.

5. And, of course, the logical extension of this thought is to use the PowerPoint slides themselves as a memory aid. I know people do this and can make it work for them. It takes practice. I watched a speaker use this system recently. She was a dynamic presenter, with a fluent presentation and had the audience captivated. She had no remote for the slides, so had to ask or signal to the computer operator to advance the slides. When that operator made an error, then the whole speech ground down as the speaker had to wait to find out what was supposed to happen next. Her dynamism saved the day, but it was a glitch that could have been avoided.

Each of these 5 is a way of using images to remember your presentation. Each allows you to be creative in producing a visual to memorise and guide your presentation. Each will need your constant creative attention in honing its success, and maybe you will go even further and combine them.

Perhaps you are already using one or more of these or have your own way of using the sense of sight in memorizing your speech, ensuring there are no blank moments and that it progresses as you dreamed it would. I would love you to share them in the comments below.

11 Deadly Presentation Sins: A Path to Redemption for Public Speakers, PowerPoint Users and Anyone Who Has to Get Up and Talk in Front of an Audience

11_deadly_presentation

“We’ve all committed the 11 deadly presentation sins on the way up in our careers. This insightful book will help make sure that your way up doesn’t become the way down!”
– Dr. Nick Morgan, author of Give Your Speech, Change the World

11 Deadly Presentation Sins is the perfect book for public speakers, business presenters, PowerPoint users and anyone who has to get up and talk in front of an audience. 

Few skills are more important in business or in life than the ability to present your ideas in clear and compelling terms. A solid presentation can help you:

* Close a sale with a customer
* Earn a raise
* Get a job
* Boost your reputation in the marketplace
* And much more … 

Escape From PowerPoint Hell …

More Than 100 Practical Tips …

Did We Mention Fun? 

My review

Want to avoid killing your audiences with boredom? Are you killing your career, your business, your chances of winning that pitch with murderous presentations? Sin no more. Resurrect your speaking success with Rob Biesenbach’s new book.

Rob brings skills as an actor, a speaker and a PR pro to this book; and not just skills but the entertaining, engaging communication style that made him a success there.

If you want to build your own success as a speaker, use this book. I don’t like books that tell you what NOT to do, and I feared that “deadly presentation sins” might do just that. I was mistaken, and happily so. The book is incredibly positive and encouraging. Rob provides the theory and the fundamentals of presentation success from energy to engagement, from storytelling to structure, from focus to visuals and much, much more.

I enjoyed his conversational style, his humour and his turn of phrase. Especially I enjoyed his humility. These all add up to an encouraging, easy read. He uses examples from other experts. He also uses copious examples from his own experience, so I felt that this was guidance from an expert. More importantly, though, these examples give Rob’s readers a multitude of practical ways to implement the strategies he has listed. This is what takes the book beyond being just another basic read about presentation skills.

Implement the guidance here and yes you will stand out – confident, comfortable and more engaging.
This is indeed the path to redemption!

You can get all the details (and where to buy the book) here on my website … http://bit.ly/1c6rP0Y

The operating system behind any great presentation

Presentation secrets of Steve Jobs

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before. So if you have been hiding under a rock for the last year or so and have missed this – it’s a great read – Jobs and Gallo are both speakers we can all model….

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

Carmine Gallo

“The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs reveals the operating system behind any great presentation and provides you with a quick-start guide to design your own passionate interfaces with your audiences.” Cliff Atkinson, author of Beyond Bullet Points and The Activist Audience => http://bit.ly/14Kp90g

Quick public speaking tip – Is your audience illiterate?

Well, are they?

Probably not.

If your words are on the screen or sheet of paper, then let the audience read for themselves. This will have enormous impact, especially if your audience is used to presenters slavishly following the test on their visuals.

You are presenting your message verbally, and visuals are just that – images or groups or words that support your message. They are not the message itself. If necessary, you may have to explain this, first, because many audiences have been trained by presenters who cover their inadequacies by using their visuals as the message.

This may just be why you will make an impact if you can present without using this method. You will be different. You will be seen as so much more confident and competent as a person.

But underneath all of that is the fact that your audience is not illiterate. Don’t annoy them by reading to them what they can read themselves.

Enchanting business presentations

Tired of death by PowerPoint? Guy and Lisa share 5 essential tips to make your business presentations more enchanting.

Lisa interviews Guy

Research more than the content when you prepare your speech

When you start building a speech or presentation, the first thing you think of is the content. What will you say? How will you say it? What message do you want to communicate? And what do you want your audience to say or think or do differently? So you start researching that content – on the internet, at the library, with your friends and from the experts.

Content, however, is not the only thing you need to research if your speech or presentation is to be a success. If you want your audience to say or think or do something differently, you will need to know how to “pitch” your content to this particular audience.

Everything that you say or do in your presentation has to be geared to that audience… what they will be receptive to, what their triggers are, the language that they will respond to.

So in researching that presentation to write it, or prepare it, you will also need to research the audience.

Find out as much as you can – their age range, gender, income levels, dreams, needs, wants, culture. What are their likes and dislikes? What will excite them, offend them, unnerve them? What do they wear? What keeps them awake in the middle of the night?

You can gain much from a registration form, especially if you can design it yourself, or have a hand in designing it.

You can ask the event manager, or the person who hired you. You can research their company or organisation, talk to them and their friends and colleagues.

In your preparation routine, you can mingle with audience members before your speech.

Then you can use the information you have gained in constructing and presenting your speech. Use your knowledge of their interests and dreams, to choose your most persuasive stories, points and suggestions.
You will choose language that they understand, and that is not irritating or offensive to them, and subject matter to suit that audience – themes, supports, anecdotes all will be tailored to them.

One of the strongest engagement techniques in presentations is WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) and you need to be reminding your audience regularly of why they should keep listening to your presentation, and of just what they would gain from your suggestions (or lose by not following them).

I’m not sure whether researching the audience is more important than researching content. What do you think?

I do know that for the content to be effective, the research you do on your audience will be vital.

©2012 Bronwyn Ritchie
Please feel free to reproduce this article, but please ensure it is accompanied by this resource box.

Bronwyn Ritchie has 30 years’ experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking – from those too nervous to say their own name in front of an audience to community groups to corporate executives. To take your public speaking to the next level, get free tips, articles, quotations and resources, at http://www.pivotalpublicspeaking.com

Is your audience switching off when you present data? – Part Two

Presenting data is a very difficult challenge. The first step is engaging the audience with a strong emphasis on why it is important for them to understand what is being presented. Nevertheless they do need to be able to understand the data you present. While ensuring its relevance is understood is vital, so is it vital that your audience understand each and every piece of data that you present, or they will just as surely switch off, and your outcome is lost.  

Visuals are very useful here. Use pie graphs and bar charts; insert them into your slides if you are using slides. If you are using a whiteboard, draw as you tell the story or make the point. If you are using PREZi you can let the audience look at the data from different angles. The visual representation will reinforce your explanation and the point you are making.

If it is necessary to use graphs, diagrams and charts, make sure they are as simple as possible. While you probably want to impress with your understanding of complicated data, being able to simplify it will have far more of an impact, particularly in terms of getting your message across.

And make sure that everything about those visuals is clear. Sometimes it’s necessary to explain so that all the implications are clear as well. There may have been a very good reason for choosing the axes in the graph. There may have been a very good reason for choosing the increments that are used. While it may seem obvious to you, it may not be to the audience, and it may make the data relationships clearer.   
You can also add to the impact of the visuals. There may be a story behind the points on a graph. It is the intersection of two values and maybe the relationship is reasonably clear. But if you can give the reason why this relationship exists or maybe the history behind it, then it will be so much clearer.  And if you can put a human face on it, with a human story then the relationship and the point you are using it for will have so much more impact. If wages are going down and costs of living rising, for example,  then a story about a family forced to live in a car will make the impact so much more real. Another way to add a human face, or a realistic face, is to use a graphic representing the actual item being quantified. This can be particularly useful in a bar graph. If the bar consists of pictures of dollar coins to represent money, or of groups of people to represent populations or groups, for example, again the impact is multiplied.  

In the midst of all this, it is important to remember, still, that you are presenting points towards a persuasion of some kind. It can be useful to have the point you are making as the heading for the slide that contains the visuals.

And while the visuals should be as detailed as is necessary to make them understandable, too much detail will overwhelm. Remember the visuals only need to make a point, not necessarily present all the data. If all the data is necessary for later inspection and verification, put it in a handout, and leave the slides as simple as they can be.

Visuals are your greatest ally in presenting data. They can add impact and keep your audience engaged with the thread of your message. Your simplification and design of the material to support that message and the thoughtful explanation you add to it, will support the success of your data presentation.

©2012 Bronwyn Ritchie
Please feel free to reproduce this article, but please ensure it is accompanied by this resource box.

Bronwyn Ritchie has 30 years’ experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking – from those too nervous to say their own name in front of an audience to community groups to corporate executives. To receive her fortnightly free tips, articles, quotations and resources, subscribe now, it’s free!. Visit http://www.pivotalpublicspeaking.com/ps_ezine.htm

The New Rules of Persuasive Speaking

Carmine spoke to an audience of grad students at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business. His topic: The New Rules of Persuasive Presentations pulled from his best-selling book The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. Here’s an excerpt.

the New Rules of Persuasive speaking

=> http://bit.ly/YNd0Je