Jim Henson — Genius at work

What makes a genius a genius? Today, superlative attributes such as genius, artist, or master, are so generously used that it seems almost impossible to recognize true ingenuity. We know about creativity, about Flow (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi), and the Element (Ken Robinson). But, what does really happen when a masterpiece emerges, when something meaningful appears? In this 1969 Iowa Public Television broadcast we get a glimpse of that magical moment when Jim Henson explains about his puppets. It happens in plain sight: They come to life. Continue reading...

No taste, no art, no genius

artistsstudio
From time to time we hear people using the term “presentation artist”, implying that inspiration, creativity, and genius play a major role in designing visual aids. But, that is a gross overstatement. Works of art are created “to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power” (New Oxford American Dictionary), they serve no practical purpose, whereas presentation slides serve the very practical purpose of displaying information in the most adequate and efficient way. Continue reading...

Chart Wars — The power of data visualization

chartwars
The amount of information available to us over the internet grows rapidly. Recent advances in computer technology as well as software design make it easier than ever before for anybody with a computer to visualize all kinds of data. But, the same data can be visualized in very different ways — to serve very different purposes. Alex Lundry, Vice President and Director of Research at TargetPoint, talks about the political power of data visualization and offers a few short lessons about visual literacy. Continue reading...

Three ways to structure visual information

How often does it happen that a piece of information we want to talk about in a presentation is far too complex to be put on one slide? The slide would be so confusing that it could put the listeners off rather than helping them to understand what we are talking about. Complex illustrations in a printed document can be taken in and digested by the reader in her own time; and they can be revisited at leisure. A presentation is a life event. The presenter sets the pace. All the listeners can do is follow that pace. It is our responsibility as presenters to break down the information density and simplify content so we can present it in chunks that our listeners are able to digest. When it comes to visual information, there are three ways to do that effectively: layering, highlighting, and zooming. Continue reading...

Everybody an artist?

Michelangelo_Buffet
“I am not a business man, I am an artist”, said Warren Buffett and legions of journalists, bloggers, academics and business people joined in the chorus and repeated him happily. This is nonsense, of course, not everyone who calls himself an artist is one. At no time in history, building an empire made you an architect, nor did signing treaties (or checks) make you a painter or draftsman. Warren Buffett is as much an artist as the rest of us are billionaires, unless he shows us some of his artistic creations. Why does a man like Warren Buffett claim to be something he clearly is not, rather than what he really is — a business man and one of the most successful ones on the planet? We can only make an educated guess here, but it seems what he meant to say was that there is some special quality in how he does business, something comparable to art, something maybe better described as creativity. Continue reading...

BONUS — Swiss knife for presenters

Being a successful presenter is all about connecting to the audience, keeping them interested, and getting our point across. But, how can this be done? Is there a way to establish a connection to our listeners right from the beginning and gain their undivided attention? The answer is: Yes, this all can be done within the first minutes of our presentation. We suggest BONUS, a very powerful and versatile tool that makes the presenter look well organized, credible and in control. BONUS stands for: Benefit — Overview — Navigation — Underpinning — Summary. Continue reading...