Yesterday, I attended a national conference at which the keynote speaker was the deputy general counsel for a global technology company. The purpose of his remarks was to emphasize the success and progress achieved within his company at integrating the legal and IT functions to support the business needs of the company.
I was intrigued – here was a speech worth listening to. And then, the most amazing thing – despite being inside one of the world’s most recognized technology companies, known for innovation in imaging, the Web, and all things digital, the speaker’s presentation consisted of 10 slides filled entirely with bullet points! That’s right, not a single visual element was presented that showed the structural integrations, about which the speaker was commenting. There was not a single process chart to show how these different cultures were able to bridge the divide between them and make progress. There was, to be sure, not a single map to illustrate either the design or the results. Amazing.
What I was witnessing was a noble representative of the dying art of misemploying visual technology to communicate. While earlier generations were intrigued by the fascination with which words on a page could be displayed on a larger screen, doing so has never enhanced the effectiveness of the presentation. At best, the textual presentation of the same words being verbally expressed by the speaker serve to distract the audience from the nuance and emphases being offered by the speaker.
I propose a simple rule that will improve virtually any presentation – if there is a projector being employed, a speaker should edit their presentation to eliminate any bullet points that appear. It is that simple. If we are going to improve in our use of visual technology to communicate, to collaborate and to enhance our effectiveness in group settings, we must kill the bullet point.
For those familiar with my presentations and training, you know that I have adopted and follow that rule with enthusiasm. But it was truly disheartening to see the presentation unfold with such poor visual support for what proved to be a very useful success story on how collaboration was accomplished. Something tells me that the speaker was not the individual that brought a map into the meetings, but instead carried in typed memoranda, three – hole punched, which received the attention they likely deserved.
My RitterMaps work differently. Whether printed on a page, displayed on a wall during a presentation or unfolded on your desktop, my maps transform how people share information and collaborate. Each map is carefully designed to enable concepts to be presented with a structure, with context. The map elements enable you to control where you look, and allow you to prioritize the knowledge you are looking for. When used in team meetings, the reactions are to engage with the map, and help assure the map fits to the problem or the solution the team is working to analyze.