They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I think that is short-changing the picture. While most people think with images, pictures and visuals, we rarely communicate with those tools, falling back to speech – and if we have to – the written word.
Why is that? You might ask. If I were a betting man, I would say because most people don’t think of themselves as ‘creative’, which is what they associate ‘drawing pictures’ with.
In this article, I focus on Powerpoint as the tool that you are most likely going to be using to create diagrams. But the fact is that the lessons of Visual Thinking applies to any software, pen and paper, marker and white board, blackboard and chalk, iPad and Stylus.
You have Outlook to communicate. Word to write. Excel to calculate and Powerpoint to draw. (I know that isn’t how Microsoft thinks about it – but am I wrong?)
The first problem is that there are too many people who do not know how that software should be used. Here’s a quick test to show you what I mean. Randomly select 5 word docs and see how many of them have used the ‘normal’ template (most of them) or have utilized ‘headings’ or ‘styles’ (hardly any). I could go on – but you get my drift.
So now, let me focus on just one of those apps in the suite … PowerPoint.
Powerpoint is the de-facto choice for most people when it comes to developing and making presentations, yet paradoxically Powerpoint, amongst other things sucks, or so popular meme’s have it.
Turns out that it is the presentation creator’s abilities that suck, makes it boring, too long, lacking information etc. Make no mistake, Powerpoint has massive shortcomings – that’s why I don’t use it – but it is a lot more capable than being a list manager.
There are far better applications to build presentations such as Keynote, Prezi and 30 odd other packages, but no – sorry – not Google Presenter. Even so, it turns out that the old adage that a bad workman should never blame their tools is actually right. While their are different competency levels when it comes to building presentations, even a Powerpoint show can rock in the right hands.
I mean – just think how Darth Vader utilized Powerpoint to bring order to the galaxy.
Oh, that’s right … Darth didn’t use Powerpoint to make his point because he didn’t need the ‘crutch’.
When making a presentation ask how good the presenter is to begin with. It’s all very well building a deck that reflects the ’12 presentation rules of Steve Jobs’ – but if the presenter hasn’t got Steve’s natural grasp of pitching and communication – it won’t matter.
Be real clear about what you are trying to say and who your audience is.
Build your own deck … and despite what I wrote earlier about Powerpoint, the fact is you can make great decks with Powerpoint. Just take a look at some of the decks that my pals at Hubspot are showing off. All created in Powerpoint. It isn’t the software. It isn’t the tool. It is how good you are.