Data and information are not boring. The key is to select the appropriate (and accurate) data to support your message. But it also matters how you bring the data alive, giving it context and meaning. One of the masters of displaying data in live talks is Swedish doctor and researcher, Hans Rosling. (You may remember Hans Rosling's 2006 TED talk which I posted here last year with some others.)
Hans wows the 2007 TED crowd
In this video below from TED 2007, the Zen master of statistics makes a simple point in a very visual and memorable way: "The seemingly impossible is possible. We can have a good world." Hans showed with stats what is possible in the world, then he closes with a big, unexpected, and memorable finish (I actually had a hard time watching the ending, but it was effective).
A visual approach
(Above) Besides his charts and graphs, Hans' slides were very visual and his delivery was engaging. Slides above are a couple of examples.
Hans pokes fun at the "typical PowerPoint" slide
(Above) Near the end he pauses and says: "But I have to get serious. And how do you get serious? You make a PowerPoint — you make bullets!" (audience laughs) The summary slide (which worked because he built it as he talked) was his "Homage to the Office package" he said.
The shape of things to come
This presentation below is amazing and is a look into the future of how we will be making and watching presentations online. Actually, it is not in the future, it is now. It is pretty easy to do this with current tools. In the very near future it will become even easier to use a "blue screen" effect like this. I do not want to see just slides, and I do not want to see just a talking head. I want the online video to be almost as good as being there. This gets close (and you can do this without expensive equipment or a production team like Steve Jobs or the TED producers use).
Hans developed the software behind his visualizations through his nonprofit Gapminder, founded with his son and daughter-in-law. The free software — which can be loaded with any data — was purchased by Google in March 2007.
Hans Rosling's important message (required viewing for all)
Below Hans Roslings speaks at the OECD World Forum in Istanbul earlier this summer. This video has fantastic content. Absolutely is brilliant. Stick with it and listen to Hans' message (video is not great, but the content is).
Here are a few quotes I found compelling from this talk:
"...few people will appreciate the music if I just show them the notes. Most of us need to listen to the music to understand how beautiful it is. But often that's how we present statistics; we just show the notes we don't play the music."
"It's an enormous force when we animate our statistics and we put it free on the net."
"The database hugging in public institutions is hampering innovation."