How To Become an Expert at Effective Visual Communication

How To Become an Expert at Effective Visual Communication

If you had asked me a few years ago how good I was at excel, I would have confidently said: Oh, I'm an advanced excel user. 

Today? I'd say I'm almost intermediate

You're probably asking: Wait, what changed? 

Good because I'm soooo about to tell you what changed. I remember that moment clearly

It was a normal day at work. I had my coffee. I had my email open. I was listening to metal to drown out the neighbors. But mostly I was thinking about an evaluation report coming up and started asking Google for some information design ideas. 

Then I came across a video

This video just about knocked me off my chair. It showed someone automating a calculation process using VBA or macros. 

Macros. WTF are MACROS?! I thought, and I started googling some more. 

Then I realized that there was this whole decades-old technology of VBA/macros built into excel that, basically, could automate a billion things. 

Did YOU know that? 

Because *I* sure didn't know that. 

I felt like a giant turd. There is no other way for me to describe that feeling of realizing instead of being some hot shot advanced excel user, my skills were apparently limited to using it as a glorified calculator. 

My lesson is a reminder that we might think we are an intermediate or advanced user, but maybe that's just because we don't even know all of what's possible. 

So now I ask you: How good are you at Powerpoint or Keynote? 

How good are you, really

How do your slides fare on my Ban All That Text Scale (BATTS)?

How many visuals do you use in your presentations, and do you actually use them effectively or are they just small boxes in the corner? 

How efficient are you when making presentations?

Follow up: If you said intermediate or advanced, why

Because...when I thought about it, I realized that the only reason I thought I was an advanced excel user was because I had used it for 10+ years. 

But, that doesn't make sense. Just because I've used something forever, doesn't mean I actually have the skills to use it effectively. 

Is someone an expert dog trainer just because they've have a dog their whole life?

Is someone a mechanic just because they got a new set of car tools? 

Is someone a statistician just because they know how to click through a few menus in SPSS? 

No, of course not. You would need additional training to train service dogs, fix cars, or actually know what your regression stats mean. 

Effective communication is a skill, and it requires training.

Creating and delivering presentations is a regular part of our jobs as researchers, evaluators, scientists, and academics. Yet, how many of us received formal or specialized training in grad school on how to develop these skills?

What kind of training did you receive that was specifically designed to make you an effective presenter? Training that showed you how to: 

Deliver classroom presentations that kept your students' attention and inspired them to think or act in new ways. 

Create presentations that impressed conference attendees and built your reputation as a professional.

Structure and design workshops in ways that tell stories. 

Use the latest tools and technologically effectively, rather than just for show.

If you're like me, your "training" consisted of class assignments to give a brief presentations (left up to each instructor).

That's not training, that's practice. But without training, you're probably just practicing ineffective strategies

Yet, here we are giving lectures, delivering conference presentations, doing webinars, or facilitating workshops on a near-daily basis. And somehow we're all expected to just know best practices of effective communication?

But that's why I'm here :) To fill this training gap! 

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