Pit(ch)fall 4. Too many words, too few pictures.

We all know the old adage ” a picture is worth a thousand words” and yet when it comes to preparing presentations it’s too often a case of words, words, words with the occasional visual as an afterthought. They  can either take the form of endless points crowded on one chart or an endless number of uninspiring charts with a few ‘bullet’ points.

Both approaches can be pretty soulless. They are sometimes the result of laziness where a narrative document has been condensed into powerpoint format. Or, they act as a security blanket for the nervous or unprepared presenter. Some may read the charts word for word, (with the audience almost certainly reading ahead). Others, even tougher to follow,  go off chart to be ‘interesting’  and lose the audience altogether.

A handful of imaginative visuals, with a few words, can turn dullsville into communication.

Two arresting front covers this week sparked off this observation. The Spectator has a cartoon-style illustration of Boris Johnson careering along on his bike, with passenger  David Cameron hanging on for dear life. The words, scarcely needed, “full speed ahead to number 10”. But who will get there first?

The other is a classic Private Eye. A picture of Cherie Blair, flanked by Richard and Judy, all three with the trademark Cherie grin and the speech bubble “I stabbed Gordon in the book”. Brilliant.

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