Monthly Archives: January 2013

Six Minutes to the Rescue: Audience Analysis 101

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For the past few weeks, I’ve been revamping my lectures in preparation for my first on campus class since November. In preparation for that, I blogged a bit about one of the areas of public speaking most often brushed over by presenters-audience analysis and audience segmentation. While students and presenters have a plethora of resources available to them, and we use Nancy Duarte’s Audience Needs Map in class as well as her audience questions in Resonate, it’s always wonderful to find succinct yet comprehensive resources that are full of practical tools and application. One of the best resources out there that fits these criteria is Six Minutes, curated, edited, and written by Andrew Dlugan. I have turned to Six Minutes for their “how to” guide on rhetoric in developing my presentations and in teaching my students how to develop theirs. Now, I can add his wonderfully practical series on audience analysis to the resources I provide to students and presenters.

Thoughtful audience analysis is one of the best habits you can develop as a speaker. It will help you understand your audience’s perspective and provide maximum value for them. If done well, your audience analysis will provide insights that will help you focus your message, select the most effective content and visuals, and tailor your delivery to suit this particular target audience. –Andrew Dlugan, Six Minutes

Dlugan begins his series with an introduction to audience analysis and follows it up with an article explaining how to conduct it. He then turns his focus to how one can use the data gathered in the audience analysis process to improve one’s speech. Through in-depth audience analysis, one can design an entire presentation that is goes beyond connection and actually reaches resonance. By creating a presentation for the audience (dress, presentation format, supporting points, vocabulary/language, etc.), speaker can move closer to true identification. As rhetorician Kenneth Burke asserted, when an audience can sense analogy or similarity with the audience, the audience is more likely to be persuaded by the speaker’s argument.

Dlugan’s latest offering in the series is an Audience Analysis Worksheet. I, like Dlugan, appreciate the worksheet, checklist, and storyboard template–anything that helps presenters delve further into those often ignored parts of our presentation. A worksheet can “help focus your energy and make a seemingly complex task simple to perform” (Dlugan 2013). So, in the case of audience analysis, which one can talk about ad nauseum but never actually practice or conduct, a worksheet can help turn a theoretical best practice of public speaking into an actionable task whose data is now easier to analyze and apply. I’ll be adding this eries to the list of resources I draw from in preparing lectures and can’t wait to engage in some audience analysis in class using Dlugan’s worksheet. Check out the entire series on audience analysis at Six Minutes!

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On a side note: I’d like to thank Andrew for giving me the opportunity to guest write for Six Minutes in 2012. Andrew is a wonderful editor and pushed me to get out of my analytical zone when writing. Thanks Andrew and thanks Six Minutes!

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Slideshare of the Day: Ten Wise Lessons I’ve Learnt from Freelancing

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Today’s deck is for all of us aspiring frelancers out there. I recently chatted with budding presentation designer and maverick Eugene Cheng about his struggle with death-by-powerpoint and my struggle with getting a handle on how to start this freelance designing thing I’ve had in the back of my mind for years. Currently work keeps me pretty busy, but I also need to stretch and grow my tweak muscles by taking on non-educational projects.

For those of you who are like me and don’t have a clue where to start and what to watch out for, take a moment to check out today’s Slideshare presentation by Illiya Vjestica, better known as The Presentation Designer on Slideshare.net.  The deck is lovely–wonderful unity through type, color, and layout. I appreciate Illiya’s use of shape and type to convey the lessons, and the peppering in of relevant quotes and sticky images to go along with them. The lesson I found most immediately applicable was “Give Three Days Grace” for actionable tasks. Giving oneself a realistic three day window will help one not bite off more than one can chew in taking on a project, and can keep one from breaking a promise to a client (which I’d imagine is not too good for the client/designer relationship).

Presentations like today’s deck are another reason Slideshare has become one of the most powerful tools for presenters and companies today. Happy Freelancing, Happy Slidesharing, and Happy Tweaking!

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Data Display of the Day: Two views on Online Privacy

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All infographics by GDS Infographics

After seeing this beautiful video by Michael Rigley’s Network via an Ethos 3 Motion Design analysis, I was both fascinated and terrified.

Network from Michael Rigley on Vimeo.

Rigley’s approach to explaining data networks, a topic that most of us (including me) would find much too abstract and puzzling if presented in report-form, is beautifully illustrated and animated–it’s also understandable and impacting. Rigley doesn’t just lay out a series of facts, he interweaves them with a visual representation. It’s the approach to presenting this information that makes it that much more impacting. The information comes to life in a way the audience can understand; one cannot ignore the ramifications of our networked world. I found myself surprised and shocked at what I didn’t know about my digital footprint, and of course wanted to know more.

I ran across this infographic created by Abine, an online privacy company,  from Daily Infographic, and it only confirms what Rigley explains in Network.

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Through our activities, our private information and habits, from shopping and liking someone’s status to making travel plans, are being mined and sold to advertising and tracking companies. This may seem innocuous when a site raises a price because an individual looks up a certain item, but when it can cost a person his or her job of affects his or her credit, the need to stand up for privacy becomes greater. Today’s examples amplify their important messages through design, so what design lessons can we draw from today’s examples?

Lessons from Today’s Examples

  1. Use simple shapes and icons to convey complex ideas.
  2. Organize information so it sequentially builds towards a solution.
  3. Infographics in print do not necessarily follow the glance media rule; they are meant to be absorbed over time.
  4. Video motion display should have a cohesive theme that helps further clarify the complex concept being animated.

Consider these four lessons, and remember, there is always room to…

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Sneak Peek: Tweak your Resume

One of my favorite parts of teaching visual design is the visual resume project. While my visual resume continues to be a source of frustration for me (I recently ditched the old one completely and started from scratch), I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned about this dynamic form of professional persona building. This afternoon, I will be holding a GoTo Training for my online students as they prepare to submit their visual resumes. In preparation, the students study among other resources, Jesse Dee’s Really Ugly Resumes, Emiland’s How I Landed a Job with Slideshare, and my deck, Visualizing Resumes.

For this session, I want to draw attention to the examples they already have on hand and take this opportunity to rework my original deck on visual resumes. So, I have developed a new set of slides for this mini-workshop that I hope to continue building on and developing. Here is a sneak peek of my new approach to teaching visual resumes, Tweak Your Resume:

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Update: I’ve made a few changes based on some critique. On my way!

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What are your thoughts? I am not sold on the color scheme so far, but I am enjoying the process of laying out my type in a different way!

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Is Design Typography? 52 Presentation Tips by SOAP

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Photo Credit: arnoKath via Compfight cc

In yesterday’s Professional Communication and Presentation class, Alex’s students were given the task of designing their decks for tomorrow’s Worst Case Scenario Demonstration speech.  Several students came to me for input, and I discussed typeface choice with most of them. You may have heard the phrase, design is 95% typography,” but what does that mean? Does that mean that all of those minute decisions we make about shapes, images, colors, and textures are worthless if we make the wrong choice of type for a presentation? Does that mean we should devote 95% of our design time to choosing typefaces? When Oliver Reichenstein made this claim in 2006, he was primarily focused on type in web design. However, we can draw a few lessons about type in presentation design from his message (check out the follow up to Reichenstein’s landmark article here.):

  1. While presentations are a visual medium, the best way for audiences to retain visual information is to pair an image with text. So, one must consider readability and usability when designing type in a presentation.
  2. It’s not about having as many typefaces as possible at your disposal. It’s about knowing how to best use the type you have. That’s typography.
  3. Treat text as a design element and consider the user’s experience.

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Photo Credit: sillygwailo via Compfight cc

Today’s deck, “52 Presentation Tips” by SOAP Presentations is an interesting addition to the ongoing debate about the role type plays in design.

SOAP’s approach is dynamic, the advice relevant (considering how many presentations on Slideshare still follow the Death by Bullet approach, we clearly need more champions for the cause like SOAP), and I find the overall design to be engaging and immersive. However, at times, I found the use of type to be disconcerting and the top down flow of information, in which words twist and wind down the middle of a 3-part vertical grid, made the content difficult to read quickly or easily. In the end, while I loved what I was seeing, I had trouble processing it quickly using Duarte’s glance media rule. However, this is intended to be an eBook and not a traditionally displayed and presented presentation, so SOAP’s design choice still makes sense. What do you think? Is dynamic/kinetic type useful in a presentation? What role does typography play in your presentation design?

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Rhetoric Lessons from TED

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The three cornerstones of public speaking, credibility, emotion, and logic, have been drilled into countless students of both written and oratory rhetoric. This is done with good reason. Aristotle, a man whose insights permeate philosophy, literature, and the arts, knew his stuff. He codified the very science and art of persuasion, while also engaging in one of the first forms of psychological analysis of the human mind’s response to the rhetorical appeals. Aristotle brings light to three important aspects of the human psyche; these directly relate to a speaker’s ability to most effectively persuade a given audience in a specific situation:

We trust speakers who we judge as credible, and trust is a relative term based on a series of variables. This is ethos.

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We demand sound, unbiased, and clear evidence placed into a logical organization and pattern. This is logos.

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We are only persuaded when we are led to feel something, to perceive the problem emotionally. This is pathos.

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Earlier this week, Alex Rister of Creating Communication shared this excellent video with her readers that helps further explain just how important each of these are in our age of information overload.  Conor Neill, the creator of this excellent new TED-ED resource, asserts that it’s the balance and interplay between all three of these areas that leads to true persuasion.

Rhetoric in Action

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Susan Cain Photo Credit: jurvetson via Compfight cc; Jill Bolte Taylor Photo Credit: cr8it via Compfight cc; Amy Cuddy Photo Credit: poptech via Compfight cc

One way to tap into the power of rhetoric is to study how great speakers apply the three appeals, ethos, pathos, and logos. Let’s take a look at how three TED presenters put rhetorical theory into practice in their presentations.

Susan Cain’s “The Power of Introverts”: Improve ethos through shared experience

Cain does a masterful job of developing her ethos, which is a blend of trustworthiness, similarity, reputation, and authority (Dlugan 2010), by drawing on personal stories–her experience being an introvert at “ROWDIE” camp, her choice to write a book and her determination to share her suitcase of ideas with the world. These personal stories build her reputation and authority. But, what really lends her complete credibility is her use of similarity. Cain connects her stories to our shared experiences, our culture of character, our culture of personality, our workplaces, our schools. She draws from the world’s most respected introverts, Abraham Lincoln, Ghandi, in describing the power of introverts. Cain places all of her audience in the problem her big idea helps to solve–we have big problems in the world; we need to value the power of introspection, solitude, and self-reflection on the human experience.

Jill Bolte Taylor’s “A Stroke of Insight”: Improve pathos by showing you care

Bolte Taylor’s talk was one of the first I watched and one of the first I shared with my students. Reception to this talk is always mixed–some students completely dig Taylor’s big idea–that we can choose to step into a right-hemisphere state of mind where we view ourselves as part of a collective universal being. Other students find Taylor’s message to be too “touchy-feely.” Regardless of reception, one cannot help but be impacted by Taylor’s delivery. As a neuroanatomist, we expect Taylor to be cold, detached, scientific. This perception is reinforced by her matter of fact explanation of the human brain while holding an actual human brain. But, Bolte Taylor jarrs the audience’s perceptions by channeling the power of pathos. The experience of having a stroke is conveyed through emotive and physical storytelling. Taylor weaves in beautiful metaphors and invites her audience to experience the stroke that led her to her shareable idea. It’s her willingness to let the audience see her vulnerability, her acceptance of death, her realization that life is not really about me but about we that leads to true persuasion.

Amy Cuddy, “Body language”: Improve logos by visualizing evidence

The content of Cuddy’s TED talk on body language is useful in considering the impact what we do not say when we present can have on an audience’s perceptions and their willingness to accept a message. But, when we move beyond content to analyze the structure and delivery of this message, an important lesson about how to integrate examples and evidence emerges. Cuddy sets the tone for the presentation by calling attention to the body, by asking her audience to become aware of their bodies. Immediately, the audience is put into the mindframe of the presentation’s big idea–that body language does more than just reflect mood; body language can change and shape our minds and in turn our behavior. She then tells the story that led to this big idea, interweaving testimony, examples, and case studies paired with video, images, and simple data display. As a viewer, I found myself hypersensitive to my posture and body language for the duration of the speech: I mimicked the power poses; I recalled the many times I’d noticed myself and others displaying the non-verbal behavior Cuddy describes and displays. Cuddy’s rich examples bring her logic to life and help her achieve her goal–to persuade her audience to “fake it til you become it”, to use body language as a means for personal growth and change.

Note that these speakers all used the three appeals together. Rhetorical appeals do not exist in a vacuum; they work with each other. I like to think of a strong argument as the Starship Enterprise–Star Trek the series and the Enterprise as a ship work because of the interplay between Spock (logos), McCoy (ethos), and Kirk (pathos). Without these three, the Enterprise crew cannot function; without these three, there would be no Trek. Tap into the three rhetorical appeals and bring your big idea to life in a way that will truly move your audience to action.

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Calling your Audience Types to Action

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Last week, I discussed the importance of audience segmentation as a means of persuading the members of your audience to take on your big idea. This week, I want to explore how you can use the research you gleaned during audience segmentation to call your audience types to action. A great presentation ends with a strong call to action–your audience cannot take your idea and spread your message without a clear sense of what you want them to do. In this segment, I’ll be referring to one of my favorite TED talks, LZ Granderson’s “The Myth of the Gay Agenda,” so make sure to watch the talk before moving on!

In the Harvard Business Review’s Guide to Persuasive Presentations, Nancy Duarte identifies four types of audiences to leverage in your call to action: Doers, Suppliers, Influencers, and Innovators. 

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Each subgroup in your audience has a different role in supporting your message and helping your idea come to life. Duarte’s suggestion is to focus on one call to action, but one that can incorporate the skills of each of the four groups.

What appeals to each group?

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Doers are the worker bees (Duarte 2012) in the audience. Give them workable solutions and clear steps to follow.

For doers, it’s all about a specific action. Doers are the people in your audience who are best able to spread your idea via a specific and actionable task. In Granderson’s talk he outlines specific actions his audience can take in correcting the problem of inequality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered citizens. At one point in the talk, Granderson displays a map of the United States developed by the Human Rights Campaign showing that it is legal for someone to be fired for their sexual orientation in 29 states. He asks the audience to focus on their state of Michigan, which is not shaded. He repeats this imagery several times. Our actionable point for doers–change those unshaded areas by following the super secret gay agenda aka the Constitution of the United States.

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Whether vegetarian or omnivore, cows were and are my favorite suppliers–a girl cannot live without fromage. The suppliers in your audience have a wealth of resources available. Don’t exploit them or think only in terms of tangible resources.

Suppliers, the folks with the goods and resources to propel your message forward, want to know what tangible resources you need to succeed. Granderson doesn’t ask the suppliers for money or material goods (remember, there is no selling at TED); instead, he asks his audience to donate time, effort, and respect to the cause of catching America up to the Constitution.

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Just as a strong flock follows a strong leader, others are led to take on your idea by the influencers in your audience. Change the influencer’s perception via your call to action by spinning a new perspective on an already existing problem.

Influencers help change the perceptions of others. Their status as leaders helps them mobilize others to your cause. If you can inspire an influencer, you’ve made a cheerleader for life.

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Chimpanzees have the amazing ability, like other animals, to use tools to better the daily processes of their lives.  Innovators are persuaded by the ingenious applicability of your big idea. Harness that in your closing.

Innovators are those who can use their already existing abilities to help you grow your idea (perhaps saving it, improving it, or enriching it). Innovators thrive when the call to action gives them a problem to solve through big ideas.

Granderson is in a room full of influencers and innovators–TEDsters are leaders in their industries and communities–they belong to an organization whose mission is to spread ideas. The majority of Granderson’s talk, it seems to me, is for these two final groups. He asks the audience to recall the past–when entire groups of people were treated based on what they were, not who they were, when our country systematically denied unalienable rights to its citizens for no justifiable reason. He juxtaposes the solutions we found to those problems with the problem still alive today–discrimination based on sexual orientation–and leaves his innovators and influencers with a simple message:

So when you hear the words “gay lifestyle” and “gay agenda” in the future, I encourage you to do two things: One, remember the U.S. Constitution, and then two, if you wouldn’t mind looking to your left, please. Look to your right. That person next to you is a brother, is a sister. And they should be treated with love and respect. Thank you. (Source)

By blending in actionable elements into your closing that appeal to each of these four groups–those who will work with you, those who will help supply you with needed tools, those who will influence others to join your cause, and those who will help you evolve your idea to further awesomeness–you can help motivate your entire audience to action.

Typefaces used: Edmondsans (James T. Edmondson) and Bebas Neue (Dharma Type)

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Tweak Your Teach: Design Thinking for Educators Vol. 2

My exposure to design over the past four years–TED’s mission of spreading ideas through the marriage of technology, entertainment, and design; the work of those who work towards the cause for cinematic presentations, and the work of instructional design folks like Julie Dirksen–has definitely impacted my approach to building and revising my courses. I am in the process of reworking the online version of Professional Communication and Presentation and redoing my on campus lectures for the course, so, the design treat I found in my inbox on Monday couldn’t have come at a better time.

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Source: Renato Ganoza via Compfight cc

The  creators of the Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit, Riverdale School and design firm IDEO, have released volume 2 of this amazing resource. This new volume of the toolkit icludes a basic introduction to what design thinking is, a streamlined process for using design thinking to improve the educational experience (whether it’s curriculum, space, process/tool, or systems-based), and a new workbook feature that takes educators through the design process. The workbook provides educators with a framework for completing short-term or long-term projects both individually and in groups.  Download this superteacher resource at the Design Thinking For Educators website.

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Tweak Your Teach: Women as Academic Authors

One of the key frameworks of any professional academic career is published research. One reason I did not pursue a PhD in Literature is because I found that pure research paled in comparison to actual teaching. However, one of my goals for 2013 is to finally return to school to pursue my Ed.D in educational leadership or instructional design. Another goal involves submitting a paper on the community of inquiry  and the community college model to an educational conference. So, research must and will be done! I ran across this interactive infographic from the Chronicle of Higher Education while conducting preliminary research on schools and ideological approaches to the studies of educational leadership and instructional design:

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The infographic provides a historical analysis of the place women have had in academic research in specific fields (I found it interesting that most humanities are left out of this list) including education. Here are a few interesting numbers:

  • From 1991-2010, women accounted for 46% of articles published in the field of education, with the two biggest areas being student learning and teacher development.
  • From 1665-1970 women contributed only 3.9% of articles on mathematics, 5.4% from 1971-1991, and from 1991-2010, that percentage increased to 10.7%.
  • From 1665-2010, women published more articles in pollution and occupational health than all of political science (domestic and international) combined.

It is interesting to see which disciplines have grown and which still have some room for growth. Does academic authorship reflect other demographic imbalances in academia and professional work? What do you think?

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Tweak Your Slides: 2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 25,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 6 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

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