Tag Archives: David McCandless

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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All things Infographic

On July 25th, Slideshare.net launched their new infographics-friendly viewer. I was stoked to see an influx of new visualizations begin appearing right away. I’ve recently turned my focus from slide design to infographics as a teaching and learning tool. The process of learning what makes a good infographic has been inspiring for me as a designer, and I’ve enjoyed presenting and communicating ideas in a different way. So, what makes a good infographic, and why are infographics such a useful tool for educators to consider?

Why Infographics?

The many resources available on the web and in print have much to say on the subject. According to the infographic, “What Makes Great Infographics,” infographics are so powerful because we are drawn to formats that are engaging, efficient, and entertaining; because they help us digest information more efficiently, and because they help us retain information. According to edudemic’s 70 Tools and 4 Reasons to Make Your own Infographics, there are three reasons teachers might consider using an infographic as a teaching tool:

1) to grab an audience’s attention (students as we know have short attention spans).

2) to pare down ideas, theories, and content so students can not only understand the information more easily but retain information longer.

3) to challenge students to think critically about course concepts and create a non-traditional mode of composition/communication.

What makes a good infographic?

Okay, so infographics can help our students learn and retain information, but what makes for a great infographic? A good starting point is David McCandless’ What makes Good Information Design visualization. For McCandless, great information design requires four qualities. Notice that all four of these qualities must be present for information design to be successful:

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Daniel Zeevi of Dashburst adapted this visualization specifically for infographics. According to Zeevi, “the key to a good infographic design is to find interesting and reliable data, then come up with an awesome blueprint and visual story to deliver the underlying message.” (Source). Zeevi’s four qualities expand on McCandless’ general comments about design:

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During our recent summer continuing education series, I participated in a poster session on the subject of infographics and how teachers can use them to present information to their students in a way that taps into both text-based and image-based modes of communication. Teachers can use infographics to communicate course concepts, record class notes, and enrich the online classroom experience. I shared this advice with attendees when designing their own visualizations: 1. Consider dimensions; 2. Choose a clear, strong color palette; 3. Display data for impact; and 4. Keep visuals simple.

Consider Dimensions

While the sky pretty much is the limit when it comes to sizing an infographic, experts provide a set of standard guidelines that can help you create an infographic that is easy to scroll through for the audience.

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Choose a clear, strong color palette

One aspect of infographic design that surprised me was choosing a strong background color. Most infographics use lighter backgrounds with subtle textures. This makes the infographic easier to process quickly.

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Display Data for Impact

Charts, graphs, and data display are integral to a strong infographic. After all, one primary purpose of an infographic is the communication and explanation of complex, dense information.

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Keep Visuals Simple

While some infographic designers are experts at programs like Photoshop and Illustrator, the average educator (me, for instance) has less knowledge of these programs. So, how do you create something that is still dynamic and well designed? Check out the resources below!

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My Current Infographic Projects

Educational Infographics

In Professional Communication and Presentation, I use the “Choosing an Ignite” infographic to help students brainstorm and choose a strong Ignite topic.

One of the most difficult tasks for my students is the development of a strong persuasive presentation topic. I combined an article from Six Minutes, Nancy Duarte’s discussion of convergent and divergent thinking, and my 4-year experience with the Ignite-style presentation to develop this “how to” for students.

Currently, I’m also working on a “great speeches” series of infographic that provides students with historical background on a speech, the context in which the speech was delivered, and lessons they can draw from an analysis of the speech. I am beginning with Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream.” Finally, I’ve been working on a Welcome to Professional Communication and Presentation infographic that provides students with an at-a-glance overview of the course. As Alex Rister and I used her “look” for the course introduction, I used her colors and typefaces for the infographic. Below is a “preview”.

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Professional Persona Infographic

As part of the re-branding/rebooting of my visual resume and teaching portfolio, I created this infographic of my teaching philosophy, approach to course development and instruction, and leadership style. I am using the same color scheme and type for the slide version of my new Superteacher Visual Resume.

 

Want to learn more? Check out this list of resources!

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Infographic Candy: David McCandless’s Rhetological Fallacies

Logical fallacies are an element of Professional Communication and Presentation that have fallen a bit by the wayside–with only one month of class and a semester’s worth of material to cover, it’s difficult to talk about everything without just lecturing at students for 4-8 hour periods. Any true superteacher knows this doesn’t work. That’s why I am glad for beautiful visualizations by the master, David McCandless of Information is Beautiful. Check out his infographic on all things logical fallacies, “Rhetological Fallacies” below and at his site, Information Is Beautiful.

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