The Show-Me State: The Art of Effective Communication Pt. 3

Did you know that according to the International Journal of Communication we consume – on average – 34 gigabytes (or 100,500 words) of information outside of work on an average day?

Also did you know that according to researchers at the University of Southern California we receive 5x more information today as we did in 1986?

Basically, it’s information overload – our brains are not as easily upgraded as computers are (not yet anyway) and we can only process and understand so much. That means that effectively communicating is more important now than it ever has been in the past. There is simply too much going on in everyone’s lives.

According to researchers at the California State University at Fullerton on average people remember about:

  •  10% of what they hear
  • 20% of what they read


  • 80% of what they see and do

In fact, if we take the latest research into account a picture is worth closer to 5 thousand words – but people still rarely rely on them as a tool.

Showing and using images and presentations is more crucial now days than it has ever been and here are some tips I found to be useful

Consistency – Pick a font and a color palate and stick with it. There is never a need to use multiple fonts or more than 3 colors

Culture – Before you create your visuals, make sure that you understand your audience

Be Creative – Your audience has seen a lot of horrible clip-art and way too many pictures of cross-cultural handshakes. Try to use creative, clever approaches with your imagery, and look for photographs or illustrations that tell a story in a less obvious and more memorable way.

Make it Easy – If it’s too hard for a 7th grader to understand put it in a hand out – not into the presentation. Handouts will allow your audience to look at data closely. This is especially important when you’re presenting to analytical people: they tend to be skeptical about data and complicated processes. A handout will let them have a closer look, and a more “personal” relationship with the data.

Make it Simple – Slides should focus on one idea or concept. Each slide you make should take three seconds or fewer to process. If it takes longer, the slide is too complex.

Its always tempting to say too much in hopes of explaining everything more thoroughly, but often the more you say the less people hear.

For more check out this very cool info-graphic about how cool info-graphics are.

  1 comment

  1. Avatar Angela   •  

    The statistics are the best part of this post! Once something like that gets my attention, I’m pulled into reading everything else with it.

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