We are hard-wired to notice differences in what we perceive, and the range of our perception in terms of what we see and hear, for example, is indeed quite remarkable. Difference is interesting. Perhaps this is why there are few things more boring to us than listening to someone read a speech void of emotion and from behind a lectern. Part of the reason for our boredom is that the dynamic range found in passionate, thoughtful, engaging presentation (or conversation), or the imperfectness but realness of someone speaking extemporaneously with enthusiasm and heart is lost...and our interest wanes.
What got me thinking about this was this great little video below which explains why you may be unhappy with some of the music coming out of your iPod or CD player. This video, by the way, is a good example of simple visuals adding great support to the narration.
As the author says in the video above, the original version of the song with its great dynamic range makes you turn up your volume, and when you do it sounds great. A wimpy dynamic range will result in the loss of all feel in the music as it will lack punch and clarity. Great presentations too make us “turn up the volume” in the sense that we feel engaged, interested, and want to see and hear what comes next. The magic is in knowing what to leave out. There is immense power in the quiet bits and the silent spaces in music and in speech, just as the empty spaces (negative space/white space) in visual forms of expression can make or break the effectiveness of the design.
When there is no quiet, there can be no loud. And where there is no nothing, there can be no something. In what ways, then, can we apply the spirit of “dynamic range” to all aspects of our live presentations?
• More on why your CDs may not sound so hot