Issue #142 September 4, 2007

PowerPoint Tip: Ideas from 5,000 years ago

We can learn valuable lessons from how humans communicated 5,000 years ago. At that time, formal written language was not well established, so how did people communicate? They used pictures and stories. They drew a picture on a cave wall and told the story of what was depicted, whether it was hunting, family relationships or other important ideas. One of the ideas I’ll be sharing at the Think Outside The Slide workshop later this month in Seattle is what we can learn from this method of communicating. Today, let me share a high-level lesson learned by thinking about communicating through cave drawings. Some people might refer to cave drawings as primitive. I am not sure I agree. I think what people even back then realized, is that visuals are powerful communication vehicles. So they drew with detail and used vivid colors. They did it so well that the drawings still exist today. Once the drawing was complete, they told the story of the event they depicted. The story referred to the drawing, but added details and context that the drawing could not. The audience listened to the story and looked at the drawing when it was important to do so. Is this how you use visuals? Are they well drawn, clear and will they stand the test of time? Do your explanations add color and context to the visual? Is the visual secondary to the point you are making or do you hide behind the visual as if it was more important? Difficult questions to answer honestly. But ones that force us to consider the role we assign to visuals in our presentation. At the workshop, we will be spending time on thinking visually. You’ll see examples, hear how to make different visuals effective and practice thinking visually in exercises. If you haven’t registered for the workshop on Friday, September 28th in Seattle, WA, I suggest you do it right now. Spaces are limited and you won’t want to miss out because you delayed. Here is the link: .