Vision on the 4th of July

     Brain Rule #10 from John Medina's eye opening book is: Vision trumps all other sensesIf you've read or visited Presentation Zen the understanding that simplicity is powerful and images translate more to the human mind than verbiage is backed by science.  There's a double meaning there for organizational leaders beyond presentations.

     This discussion comes from a couple of different areas.  One is that the classroom presentations I often see from publishers and many professors are dull, overloaded, and essentially incomprehensible.   The other was a quote from a consultant I know who has so many words on his presentations they're unreadable.  "People understand and remember only 20% of what you're saying, so you've got to have it on screen too," he said.  I would expect if that number is accurate, it's because they're too busy trying to read what's on the screen to listen.

     The adage from my early broadcasting days from Dave Logan and Tony Gates of "less is more" certainly applies here. Whether we're leading classrooms or organizations it's certainly time to understand the difference.  Particularly paying attention to the audience and how they learn and comprehend data.  The slide at the right, although it's got plenty of white space in general has way too many words.  If those we're presenting to can read, then they don't need to hear us read it out loud to them. That's wasting time.

     The flip side of that would be this slide with graphic only where the eyes of our brain capture an image as we're hearing the larger concepts first, then narrowing down to specifics from the speaker. The first example is from material I was provided to develop a graduate class on negotiation this summer.  The second example is what I used instead. Which doesn't mean I get an "A" for Brain Rules or Presentation Zen, but demonstrates the precept.

     These concepts are also part of the reason that Pinterest has exploded. Good graphics help us remember more. Some of my energy these past few weeks has gone towards exploring and creating "poster" type imagery instead of 300 word essays.  There's a couple of examples here, and in my heart and mind they can and do have more of an impact than the essays.  After all, only 13% of Americans can read proficiently, and only 30% of college graduates can (same study).  But that would be a topic for another day.

     The picture at the right was taken this past Saturday as part of Lest We Forget, a phenomenal organization who've  helped capture stories from veterans before they're no longer with us. They've produced books, videos and give talks both locally and nationally to schools so our children can really understand what so many sacrificed and continue to do so.   Stories trump data every time. Saturday was a recreation of the Normandy, Italy, and Pacific beach landings from WWII, among a number of activities and it was phenomenal.  A perfect lead in to this 4th of July holiday.  Yes, I know I changed "men" to "people".  I think Jefferson would too if he were alive now, though the House of Representatives might hold me in contempt for saying so.

     While I miss Peter F. Drucker, the luxury of his many books and the continuing work of the Drucker Institute means I can always read his wisdom again. This example has too many words, but good quotes sometimes have larger portions to consume. I never thought that being a reader would make one in the minority.

      Celebrating the 4th with family tomorrow, I think we'll do some group reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to see if the words hold the same meanings for us they did centuries ago. If we can agree on the meaning of "is" among other words, we might actually be able to solve some of the problems our country and world face.

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