Category Archives: Infographics

Data Display of the Day: How to Sell Without Selling

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In my class, Professional Communication and Presentation, my students and I devote a significant portion of time to persuasion and selling. From my perspective, every presentation is persuasive. Even when the on paper purpose is to inform–quarterly report, update, process, lesson–there is an underlying current of persuasion that cannot be ignored. Even if a presenter is informing an audience on how to complete a process or how to engage in a process, he or she is really persuading the audience that his or her approach to completing that process is viable, worthy, or preferable to another method. In addition, every presenter must persuade the audience that he or she is credible and worth listening to. So, it naturally follows that learning more about persuading and about one of its most prevalent types, selling, can help each presenter grow his or her skills. Selling today (just like persuading) involves more finesse, innovation, and a knack for visualization than in the past. Most consumers today see right through infomercials and are much more drawn to subtler forms of persuasion–advertisers know this and continue to adapt. Presenters too must adapt to our new world of communication and content interaction. Today’s infographic, brought to you by Daily Infographic, discusses the subject of passive persuasion, or selling without selling. There are a few key ideas in this infographic we can apply to persuasive presenting:

1. People buy into ideas that appeal to their needs

According to today’s infographic, people buy products for a variety of reasons. Each of these coordinates with one of Maslow’s needs (physiological-basic needs, safety-replacement or value, belonging-urgency/scarcity, esteem-name recognition, self-actualization-a good cause), which is a good starting point for tailoring a message to a particular audience. What is interesting about the reasons people buy products is how readily we are driven by higher-level needs like name recognition. By purchasing an Apple product for instance, a consumer becomes part of one of Seth Godin’s “tribes,” a group of others whose values align around a brand. Harnessing Maslow’s needs when crafting a persuasive message taps into the very reasons audiences make the choices they do–WIIFM or “What’s In It For Me”.

2. People buy into well-designed products

A well-designed product is appealing–from color and form to function, usability, and novelty, user-focused design can truly make the difference between a product that thrives and one that fails. The same goes for slide decks. If 85% of consumers say that color is the main reason why they choose a product, and 93% of consumers are concerned with visual appearance, then it’s clear that design is king. David McCandless, of Information is Beautiful, provides a bit of insight into why visualizations are so useful in disseminating information. Our vision is our primary sense, and we are bombarded by an incredible amount of information each day, most of it visual (Source). By harnessing the power of design, we can speak to audiences in two languages–the language of the eye (visuals) and the language of the mind (text, numbers).

3. People buy into products that use surprise and unexpectedness

The final lesson we can draw from today’s infographic is that surprise and unexpectedness draws audience’s in and sets the conditions for persuasion. Chip and Dan Heath codified the formula for ideas that stick in Made to Stick. One of their primary modes of crafting sticky ideas is unexpectedness. When the brain encounters something incongruous, something that does not adhere to the schemas or cognitive patterns already in place, it cannot help but want to find a solution. This is why mysteries and thrillers are so popular–they break a schema and then through careful construction, create a new way of thinking.


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3 As of an A+ Web Source

This week is spring break at my school, which means it’s time to spend some time attending continuing education workshops, making a big dent in the Professional Communication and Presentation reboot, and working on creative projects (along with a small side trip to the beach and another to the Salvador Dali museum). In addition to working on revising rubrics and creating lessons for the reboot, I’ve been working on two new infographics. The first is a teaching tool I’ll use in class; the second is an infographic exploring the concept of superteacher, something both Alex Rister and myself have talked about before on our respective blogs. Today, I’ll share with you the first.

For many people (students, teachers, and professionals), the web is a primary place to seek out information quickly. The web is a vast source of information and can be a great place to find relevant, useful content. But, the web is also a perfect example of information gone wrong. Information that began as “truth” is diluted, repeated, degraded, and misrepresented. While most teachers encourage or require students to avoid web sources found through Google and other search engines, asking students instead to use library resources–books and database articles–the truth is, most students will still Google their topic, choose the first five articles on the first page of results and call it a day. I find that for students, research is often a cursory part of the presentation or composition process (I often hear, “I hate the library databases; I can’t ever find anything in there!”). They understand why they need it, but are often frustrated because they don’t have the tools they need to seek out the best information.

Now, some of this stems from a need for further instruction on what search terms to use, how to best use a site like Google to filter out unusable information, and a habitual belief that good information should be instantaneous (how often do you have a conversation involving the name of this or that movie star? how often do you simply look the information up quickly on your phone, landing on the answer in the first two or three Google hits?). But, part of what makes the process of researching frustrating for students is not knowing exactly what is a credible, worthwhile source of information.

Today’s infographic, “The 3As of an A+ Web Source” is meant to address this specific need–isolate specific qualities that make a source credible and present them in a way that is visually engaging but also information rich. The infographic focuses on three core characteristics of a strong web source: authority, applicability, and aim. Within these are other categories commonly used in determining strong research: credibility, reliability, accuracy, purpose, bias, currency, and audience. I’ll be adding this as a downloadable file to the current and future iterations of PCP. In class, I’ll pair this infographic with an already existing lesson on research that includes the deck below and a series of analysis and application activities. Note that this deck is specific to using sources in a presentation, though it could easily be adapted for research in writing:

Check out the infographic below, and feel free to share with others!

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Data Display of the Day: How does the brain retain information?

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Audience retention and application are top concerns for presenters of all forms–teachers, public speakers, leaders, interviewees. Ensuring that our audiences not only retain the information we present to them but also find a way to apply and implement that information through experience is what drives much of our content development, visual design, and delivery processes. There are several models available to us that can help us understand how to create content that our audience will retain including the Made to Stick model I’ve previously discussed and John Medina’s brilliant Brain Rules. In this introductory video to the Brain Rules concept and the first rule, “Exercise boosts brain power,” Medina explains just why we need to understand how the brain works in order to best maximize its potential–in essence, it’s because our modern business and educational environments are designed to work against our natural brain rules (cubicles, stationary desks in sterile classrooms).

Today’s data display, which comes by way of Daily Infographic, provides further insight into the brain, how it works, and how it retains information. Created by mindflash.com, “How does the brain retain information?” first explains where information is stored in the brain. As presenters, we should recognize that how we structure and present our content will appeal to a different part of the brain (literally, it will cause our electrical systems to fire neurons in that particular portion of the brain). For instance, when we use pathos or ideas that appeal to emotion, we are tapping into the amygdala (which also happens to be the root of presentation anxiety); when we apply the picture superiority effect, we fire a complex series of actions in the cortical structures of our audiences’ brains: the occipital lobe processes the visual information, the parietal lobe pairs that visual with the text on that visual, and if we do our work well, the frontal and temporal lobes store that information in our working and long-term memory (hence why applying the picture superiority effect–pairing image and text together leads to 65% greater retention of information).

So that’s where the brain stores information, but how does it actually store that information and retain it? The second part of today’s infographic describes a working theory for this process, which is still somewhat of a mystery. What is interesting about this complex system is that everything begins with electrical impulses.  In a flash, the brain reacts to external stimuli, synapses fire, and the brain then sorts and stores information into short term, working, and long term memory. Check out the infographic below and consider how your content, visuals, and delivery impact your audience’s ability to turn your information into working or long-term memory aka retention.

 

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Data Display of the Day: The Flipped Classroom

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The phrase “Flipping the Classroom” has become a hot topic of discussion among my colleagues–workshops have been offered on the subject, teachers have been implementing flipped strategies in their campus and online classes, and a student even proposed this as his persuasive speech topic several months ago. So what exactly is a flipped classroom? The concept exists at the intersection between the opportunities offered by video and online modes of delivery and a much needed response to the problems with our factory model of education, one that Sir Ken Robinson asserts is killing our creative centers.

The concept was first introduced via MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses), by teachers like Salman Khan, founder of the Khan Academy, and fueled by the rise of online videos and lessons (in large part made possible by presentation software like PowerPoint). In essence, in a flipped classroom, students experience lecture on their own in video format and learn the subjects they study through experience. For schools, teachers, and students who spent countless hours in lectures, delivered those countless hours, or dealt with the ramifications of a failing school system in part driven by a lack of actual learning, the flipped classroom is an open window of opportunity.

One of my big goals for this year is to devote more time to activity in the campus course. While I do not seek to remove the impact a deep socratic discussion of course ideas has on learning, I do see the benefit of keeping instruction and the dissemination of information minimal for the sake of application. One of my big goals for this year is to add even more in class activity and application than is already present in the course. There’s no reason our campus students couldn’t study the same videos as online students as they study their course textbook. This would leave more time for application and activity-based learning and help students see the ideas they learn about in action. Today’s infographic provides a visual introduction to the concept of Flipped Classrooms. Check out this infographic and the rest from Knewton, a learning systems/learning platform company (their adaptive learning platform sounds so cool!)

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Data Display of the Day: Climbing the Mountain of Resumes

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As the PCP reboot really takes off, Alex Rister and I are working on developing our weekly lessons/modules using a blend of video, image, and text-based instructional assets. Our ultimate goal for the reboot is to help our students understand what the true connection between effective presenting and professional success is. Why do they need to analyze their growth as professionals so far? How does this analysis better serve them when they present themselves online or in person? I truly believe that communicating and presenting your ideas to others is the most important skill a professional at any level can learn, especially when it comes to landing that dream job, keeping that dream job, and finding others with whom to collaborate. Today’s infographic can help our students take the project they create in Professional Communication and Presentation and present it in a way that is going to help them climb to the top of the resume mountain. This infographic, created by Kelly Services, provides job seekers with some excellent advice (some of which I really need to take on!). The connecting thread is audience awareness and adaptation. Just as in a strong presentation, a job seeker must adapt to his or her audience’s needs to better persuade and motivate them to act.

1. Make sure your resume aligns with your target company

Creating a different resume for each company may seem tedious, but it can make the difference between a resume that catches a recruiter’s eye and a resume that gets put in the virtual or physical trashcan.

2. Know your target company’s culture

As the infographic explains, in our age of connectivity and instant access to information, it’s easier than ever to conduct research on a company and adapt your approach to their needs.

3. Be confident and attentive

Those who are hiring you want to hire someone who is confidence in his or her abilities (not cocky!) and who is “present” during an interview. Show recruiters you are confident that you are not only a good fit for the job but also that you are confident in your definition of what it means to be a professional.

4. Don’t forget to say thank you

Whether via an email or phone call, show gratitude for the time your “audience” gave you.

What are your interview “must dos”? What did you do to land that dream job?

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Data Display of the Day: Get the Most out of Google

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Google has become the bane of many a teacher’s existence. Yes, it’s an incredibly useful tool for research and learning, and it has made it easier for us to access the world’s information. But, it’s also made our students lazy and reductive when it comes to research. When I was in school, research meant going to a library, opening up the creaky cabinets of a card catalog filled with typed dewey decimals, authors, a terse description of the work, and a location. To find credible and viable research, I had to decipher that card, pore through shelves of hard bound journals, find my article, read it, copy it, and handwrite a citation using the MLA Handbook (I won’t say which edition) as a guide. This process reaffirmed the worth of that source to me; it forced me to really think about how I searched for information; it emphasized that good research is a process–sometimes a lengthy one. In graduate school, this process was streamlined by the introduction of online databases, which saved me a trip to the library, a bit of search time, but no less emphasized that good research as some quantifiable characteristics–a credible author, a spot in a reputable publication, and verifiable sources of information.

Today, my students cringe at the thought of using these databases and wonder why they can’t just type in a random search term–“banning pitbulls is wrong”–in Google, indiscriminately grab the first three results including Wikipedia and call their research process complete after 10 minutes. The downside of Google’s openness and ease is that it reinforces in students that if it’s on Google, it’s perfectly good to use, even if the source is clearly not credible (no author, a dubious author with no credentials or experience, extreme bias, zero publication information).

Today’s infographic, created by HackCollege.com and found via Daily Infographic
helps move students’ use of Google in the right direction, and helps curb a big problem they found: “3 out of 4 students couldn’t perform a ‘well-executed search’ on Google” (Source). The infographic is easy to navigate and is organized first by using operators to streamline the type of information a student wants to find (statistics, examples, etc.). One of my favorite tips is “don’t ask Google questions.” Google is not a person, it’s not going to understand what source is best if you want to know the average air speed of a swallow unless you use operators like “intitle:” (I love this operator–it helps reinforce scholarly research as opposed to general education sites; if velocity is in the title of a pdf document, chances are you are moving closer to a paper conducting research on the average velocity of birds).

Next, the infographic covers Google Scholar, a rarely used subset of Google that can direct students to the exact type of research they SHOULD be using in papers and presentations. The infographic then introduces students to some tips, tricks, and hotkeys (did you know Google could do math for you??). Finally, students are given three other important tips: 1. use the library; 2. don’t cite wikipedia, check the references instead; 3. look to a source’s bibliography for more great information.

This is sure to become an asset in the PCP reboot for both online and campus students!


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Data Display of the Day: The Secrets of Happy Couples

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Though I don’t devote much time to discussing my personal life via Tweak Your Slides, I am happy to say that I am coming up on one year with my tender ginger beard of a boyfriend.

His silliness definitely adds to the gaggilion reasons why this one is a keeper.

His silliness definitely adds to the gaggilion reasons why this one is a keeper.

This is only the second time in my life that I’ve celebrated Valentine’s Day with a partner. It’s not something I regret, but something I celebrate. Having been single for most of my life has made me a stronger, more resilient and self-reliant person. But, it also means I have a lot to learn about how a strong relationship works. Today’s infographic, which comes by way of Daily Infographic and was created by Happify, is a great tool for comparison. While one cannot completely codify what makes a relationship work, by analyzing data related to what makes couples happy, we can get a bit closer to understanding what it takes to have a happy relationship:

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Data Display of the Day: Everything You Need to Know About 2013 Music Sales

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Driving to work today, I realized just how long it’s been since I purchased a piece of physical music, whether CD or vinyl. It isn’t that I don’t love music, it’s just that Spotify and other streaming sites have now become my dominant vehicle for listening to and exploring music. Through sites like Spotify and Pandora, I’ve discovered artists I would have otherwise only learned about from my local record shop, Park Ave. Cds. Because it’s so much easier to simply stream the artist and because these sites provide me with similar artists and a plethora of information on the artists folks are listening to know, I don’t see myself going back to the days of perusing through hundreds of albums and cds, listening patiently to the radio to hear my favorite song, or even buying albums digitally. The impact of streaming is the main focus of today’s infographic, “Everything You Need to Know About 2013 Music Sales.” Some interesting takeaways from this infographic:

  • There’s been a 32% increase in streaming from 2012 to 2013 and a 6% decrease in album sales.
  • In 2013, there were 118 billion music streams, which would have meant 59 million in album sales.
  • R&B and Rap were the only two genres that saw an increase in album sales in 2013.
  • People are buying more vinyl now than they have in the past, but overall vinyl sales only accounted for 2% of the industry.

Check out the infographic, created by Rolling Stone, below and the accompanying article from Daily Infographic by clicking the image.

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Data Display of the Day: Two Grammar Infographics

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Today’s data display offerings are all about grammar. Though I have been teaching public speaking, business communication, and presenting for the past five years, I still work to emphasize in my students that they should devote sufficient time to grammar and mechanics in both written, visual, and verbal communication.  An interview and potential job can be lost over a misplaced comma; an audience’s understanding of your subject can be lost through a misused or misspelled word. As David McCandless says, we are all now data visualizers; we demand a visual aspect to our information. So, a great way to brush up on grammar and mechanics is through the various grammar visualizations found on sites like The Oatmeal. Two particularly useful infographics help users navigate through the often confusing (and in English departments, feud inducing) world of punctuation.

The first is “The Oxford Comma”, created by OnlineSchools.com. This infographic tackles the controversial use of this most ubiquitous of punctuation marks. Did you know that the Oxford comma isn’t actually used by Oxford University’s PR department?

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The second example comes from my favorite site, The Oatmeal created and curated by Matt Inman, whose Ignite talk I shared with you yesterday. Apostrophes have become one of the most incorrectly used forms of punctuation in our first draft digital culture. Inman’s flowchart moves the user through when to and when not to use an apostrophe and includes excellently funny examples. To view the rest of this visualization, please click on the image below.

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(Source: The Oatmeal.com)

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Data Display of the Day: Shark Attack

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This simple infographic shares a very important message about our relationship to nature. The message is simple, the design is simple, the impact is lasting. The statistic “100 million sharks are killed annually” due to finning (a brutal and inhumane practice done to satisfy yet another one of our gustatory whims) can be hard to picture. It’s also difficult to empathize with an animal that has been portrayed as humanity’s biggest enemy long before Spielberg’s iconic opening sequence in Jaws. To put the statistic into perspective, designer Joe Chernov and the firm ripetungi created the “Shark Attack” infographic. Simple design at it’s best–emotive, evocative, thought-provoking:

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