Sunday, March 24, 2013

Visual examples: Creating a visual representation

It feels odd to write this post. In fact it feels odd to write about pretty slides, when the power of a talk doesn't come from them. However, memorable visuals help the audience understand better and remember longer. That's why visual storytelling matters so much in presentations. Science tells us that stories is a great way to learn, then makes perfect sense that scientists use stories in their scientific presentations. In fact, as most people are visual learners it makes sense to know and apply visual storytelling to presentations.

So here is the story of today's post. Some months ago I worked on a stack of visuals, which involved representing that a certain oral test is a bridge between education and professional life. After having found an appropriate image (Puente de Alcántara, Toledo Spain) and the talk's rehearsal. I came with a decent slide, that got noticed by the audience. If some more time in my hands, I tinkered a bit more and came up with this:
This is emotional and energetic, which engages the audience. It makes the message of the bridge come alive. It is emotional because of the emblematic image, and its use as a postcard. It says I'm showing you a picture, I'm telling you a story of how important this bridge is. It is energetic because of its tilt and the tilt of the image behind and because it goes out of the page, which actives the white space.

It makes sense (after the tinkering) to show how I put this together.
On the top left is the original image, which is fine except for the lost of detail in the foreground and the pale sky.  The image of the top right has these two enhancements, which are relatively easy and cheap (in terms of time). Once I had the image ready, I went for the text (bottom left), which is obviously in perspective to rest on the bridge.  Putting it on the image, and creating the illusion of the the letter L going across the bridge yields the bottom right image, which would be fine as a full bleed slide, and in fact is the version used on the talk.

Image credits: Puente de Alcántara by Dantla under GFD License.

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