Earlier this week, Jasper von Meerheimb, Sr. Art Director for Universal Studios Japan, gave a wonderful presentation (see photos) for Design Matters on "Meta-spaces," defined as "multi-dimensional visitor destinations designed to facilitate personal transformation in public settings." The presentation was very good and had just the right amount of content. 55 minutes. The content was provocative and with discussion could easily have been a 2-hour presentation. Lot's of things that make you go "hmmmmm...." Of course, visually, the presentation (he used Keynote) was simple, beautiful, and made use of a lot of photography as he explained key concepts.
Two things Jasper talked about stood out to me and are represented on two of his slides below. In Jasper's case as a designer, he is talking about "looking at the whole individual (user)" and "integration" in the context of designing spaces such as parks or shopping malls, etc. But if you think about it, the ten items listed on the slides below can also get us thinking about how to better design presentation visuals, and in fact the entire presentation, including content selection, approach, and delivery. Software designers/programmers and others too might want to take a moment to ponder these ten elements.
The Whole Individual. Presentations are usually about great content, of course. Otherwise, why waste people's valuable time. But people (audiences) are not just sponges there to absorb information. Even the brightest among the brightest in the room will tune out if you "present" only data (and more data, and more data...). We have to appeal (not dumb down) to the whole person, do we not? Often to people who are "not like me" who have different assumptions and experiences. We need to target people's imaginations, emotions, and senses too. And often, we desire that people change their behavior as a result of our efforts. Too often, presenters focus only on the intellectual. The intellectual side is necessary, but it is one aspect of many. The best presentations take the "whole person" into account.
An Integrated meta-space. OK, I know I am stretching this, but in a sense you and your computer/projector and a room full of people are a kind of "meta-space" experience. Certainly the best visuals need to be (at the minimum) relevant as well as easy to grasp without too much explanation. The visuals support your talk, often in subtle ways. Some of the best presentations are multi-faceted in that they leverage many kinds of tools such as video, audio, photography, physical objects, whiteboards, and so on.
I always suggest to people, especially to college students, that they "get out" and make connections and stretch themselves. Get out of your office. Get out of your house. Get out of your routine. You just never know where that next source of inspiration or that next cool person will come from. But that next inspiring bit of information or that new contact is not coming from your living room or your dorm room. You will have to sit on the riverbank a very long time before the birds of knowledge or inspiration fly into your mouth. Instead, "get out there" and see what happens. I started Design Matters more than anything else because I wanted to see what happens when you bring a diverse group of creatives and business people together in the spirit of sharing and growing professionally (and in other ways too). I always learn something new.