We read things visually first, says Kris Flegg expert of presentation software company, Prezi. Why then do so many companies present a bunch of writing to you when trying to communicate with you?
Apple’s iPad revolutionised the way we communicate and access content. It was by no means the first tablet computer product on the market, but it was the first one that made society in general stop, look and purchase. Part of the reason for this was its intense beauty. It looked good. Thankfully, it was also functional, which meant once people bought it, they had trouble putting it down.
As thousands of iPad apps flooded the App store, one in particular caught my attention, Paper by 53. It was created by a small bunch of ex-Microsoft employees running their company out of an apartment in NYC. This app allowed people of all ages to create wonderful, visual, work no matter what their skill level was. Unsurprisingly, it became immensely popular and won an Apple Design Award. But it was what one of the co-founders, Georg Petschn, said in an interview that really got me thinking.
“Because of SAT scores, GPAs, reading and writing — people think they know how to read and write well. I don’t know a lot of people who write well. I know a lot of people who can put together a great chicken sketch to communicate their idea efficiently. An emoticon people know how to use. A smiley face people know how to draw. Describing in words your emotional state? Complicated. But people think they know how to do it because they got good grades. We communicate visually first. We are visual learners… We should be fluent communicating in images. Our challenge is to make sure everyone can – it will transform the quality of ideas.”
One of the first things you learn how to do when you are a kid is to draw, and as Petschn explains, you communicate visually first, long before you learn how to string a proper sentence together. So why do we think that when we are doing business, the best way of communicating our ideas is through a presentation that is filled with words, numbers and lines? It’s not surprising that audiences find it hard to concentrate and take information in.
The most important part of what Petschn says is at the end, “… it will transform the quality of ideas.” In a world where startups and small businesses represent a large portion of the economy, it is extremely important that they communicate their ideas properly — a presentation could literally make or break their business and the staff involved with the company.
Next time you have an important presentation to do, think closely about how you’re communicating your idea. Do you really need blocks of text, a heap of graphs and all those dot points? If your child came to you with that, would you understand without having to have it explained multiple times? You are naturally wired to communicate visually, and there are tools around, like Prezi, that can help convert your business plans into something visual and easy to follow along. The chances are your presentation will be a lot more interesting and easy to digest. It will likely be easier to create as well.