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Thursday, May 10, 2007

PowerPoint - Fantastic Resource by Karl Kapp - A Question

In response to the LCB Big Question - PowerPoint: What is Appropriate? When and Why? - Karl created a presentation and a blog post that is wonderful on many levels - not the least of which that his use of a slide presentation (PowerPoint) to provide insights into the topic itself.

At the same time it raised a bunch of questions for me that I asked as comments on his post. One of my questions was on the use of images. I took a look at a couple of other resources linked to by other people answering the Big Question and found that they helped the question become more concrete.

Take for example one of the slides being discussed in:

was the topic of: "The pharmaceutical industry today is navigating a sea of change"

The advice was to use a picture of a compass (something similar to):

and you could either include the title or not. The final suggestion was to not include it.

What I wonder is - if a picture is worth a thousand words, but the 1,000 words it tells are different than what you intend the message to be, then what do you do?

The compass emphasizes the word "Navigate" and also implies sea. Probably not change. And certainly nothing to do with pharmaceuticals. We could also choose:

to emphasize "Sea of Change" ... or

to emphasize pharmaceuticals. I'm not sure what picture would actually convey the same 10 words that is the title. So, instead it's a visual cue around an important concept - but it would seem to really be aiming much more at the emotional content. Thus, maybe the picture of the stormy seas is much more appropriate than the picture of the compass.

Actually, if the only message here was that simple title, then I'm not sure I'd devote a whole slide to it anyhow.

In Karl's presentation, my question was around the use of images of the moon landing when the topic was "Technology defined the boomer generation" - or at least I think that was the topic - the problem is that all I remember is the picture of the moon landing.

I'm certainly going to use some of Karl's suggestions and go back and look at some slides and try to improve them.

But, it's tough to break old habits. :)


Anonymous said...

How about a compass made out of tablets, or in a sea of tablets, or with tablets at each point of the compass? It can be done, it just takes a little creative thought, and the more unusual the picture, the more memorable, and therefore the better it serves as a mental hook on which to hang the words you speak. If you have to explain why the picture is relevant, you've missed it. The connection can be oblique, but it must be obvious to the audience. I have taken 56 slide bullet point presentations and turned them into 10 slide versions that contain now words at all and, if I say so myself, kick ass. The main attraction is the speaker, not the PowerPoint!

Mark Frank said...

Doesn't the choice of image depend hugely on external factors - the audience, where and when they are seeing it, what precedes it in the presentation, what you intend to use next in the presentation?

I vividly remember reviewing course material in the early 90s with a multinational set of instructors. The subject was IT security and it made heavy use of a military metaphor and therefore military images. The images were a disaster. A picture of a soldier guarding a wall had a very different meanings for different people, especially those from Eastern Europe and Germany at that time.

The danger is assuming the audience see things the same way we do (typically middle-class, technologically oriented, Western, English speaking etc).

Similarly the picture of the man on the moon would have a completely different impact if it were preceded by pictures of people in various occupations (builder, soldier, nurse).

Tony Karrer said...

Karyn, like your thoughts on that. I think you are right that doing some photo editing work to combine pictures might result in something even better.

Mark - you are completely right that it depends on context, culture and many other aspects. At the same time, doesn't this make the whole choice of picture that much harder. Of course, in this case, I'm not sure I see the risk on these particular pictures. Yes, it depends on what else has been seen. And of course, there's a big difference in the emotion of the compass vs. the stormy seas vs. the pills.