Articles

  • The Greatest Storyteller of all Time

  • Posted on November 28, 2013
  • It’s Thanksgiving and what better way to celebrate than to recognize the greatest storyteller of all time. No, it’s not Steve Jobs or Martin Luther King Jr. It’s Jesus Christ.

    Consider this story, told in Matthew 25:31-40. Jesus is speaking to his assembled people and thanking them for the kindness they’ve shown to him.

     “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    Notice how Jesus uses an analogy – serving the needy is the same as serving him. Analogies are a form of storytelling that are proven to make an audience more likely to agree with you. Jesus uses analogies throughout the Bible, and very effectively.

    I’m off to serve meals to the homeless in downtown Seattle. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

  • How to Make Your Slides Not Look Like PowerPoint

  • Posted on November 14, 2013
  • I’ve heard a lot of advice on how to make your slides look more professional. But one of the best pieces of advice is this: try to make your PowerPoint slides not look like PowerPoint slides.

    One of the easiest ways to do this is to choose a different font. By default, PowerPoint will offer you Calibri. And by default, your slides will look like every other PowerPoint slide. Yaawn.

     

    But you can make a better impression on clients, colleagues and students if you’ll choose a different font. I like to use Rockwell for the titles and Segoe UI for the body. You can change the font in the slide master.

    Oh, by the way. You may be wondering about that lovely slide background. What is that? It’s simply this photograph on Flickr, shared via a Creative Commons License from the photographer Brinzei. I had to adjust the transparency to mute the image a bit, then crop out the trees at the bottom. Changing your background to a textured background is another great tip for making your slides not look like PowerPoint. I’ve created this video showing you how to make textured backgrounds.

    About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

  • Data Viz – How Close Are We to a Budget Deal?

  • Posted on October 14, 2013
  • Congress is almost out of runway on a deal to lift the U.S. debt ceiling, with negotiations continuing and a number of issues on the table. To help visualize the issues that need to be negotiated, I created this data viz.

    Here’s a gambit that might work: Obama could announce plans to hold talks in 2014 to negotiate a long-term deficit-reduction plan. With the deficit out of control, this conversation is long overdue anyway. That takes this request off the table for Republicans and allows them to declare a moral victory. It also allows Obama to declare a moral victory by not tying any deal to negotiating a long-term budget in the next six weeks.

    Otherwise, it will be painful to find a middle ground.

    Right now, Susan Collins (R, Maine) has the plan with the most support from both Democrats and Republicans, although president Obama did not endorse it and so Democratic Senate leaders are resisting it too. But it moves the two sides closer together.

    How will it all end? My hope is a deal will be reached and this blog post is outdated by Monday, October 14. But the world watches and waits…

    About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

  • Do Your PowerPoint Slides Have A Clear Visual Path?

  • Posted on October 4, 2013
  • When someone looks at your slides, does their gaze sweep effortlessly through the slide? Or does it get bogged down on the largest objects, unsure where to travel next?

    For instance, here’s a typical PowerPoint slide. How does your gaze move through this slide?

    Notice how your gaze first gets locked on the bunch of blocks on the left, then heaves over to the blocks on the right. It feels heavy and lumbering. Maybe your gaze even gets locked in an endless loop, cycling back and forth between the two blobs of information.

    But we want the eye to sweep effortlessly left to right, like wind flowing through a tunnel or water flowing down the river. You don’t get that sense now.

    There are gray arrows in the background, directing the gaze left to right. But they are too muted, drowned out by the thick borders on the boxes. The borders have no direction. They are planted firmly and so draw your eye to a full stop when you land on them.

    But look at what we can do to improve that.

    By removing the vertical borders on the boxes, we’ve created a display of mostly horizontal lines, directing the eye to read left to right. The heavy vertical borders, which had formed an imposing barrier preventing the left to right eye sweep, are gone. It feels like the windows have been thrown open and air can rush through this slide!

    Pay attention to the visual path and make it easy for the eye to sweep through your slide by 1) using arrows, numbers and other guides to direct the visual path and 2) removing obstructions that block the visual path.

    About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

     

     

  • Top 5 Examples of Storytelling with Graphs

  • Posted on September 29, 2013
  • As part of writing my new book “Storytelling with Graphs” I’ve studied 50 examples of graphs that tell stories. Some of them are publicly visible, such as TED talks, newspaper infographics and YouTube videos. Some are not, such as business reports and presentations that contain confidential information.

    Below, I list the top 5 examples of storytelling with graphs and below it a full list of the examples that are publicly visible. Which ones would you add? Leave a comment in the comments section. If you want to be alerted when my book “Storytelling with Graphs” is published, subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group.

     

    #1. Wealth Inequality in America
    This video, showing how wealth distribution is even worse than people imagine, does a great job of capturing our attention and then using animation and suspense to reveal the truth.

     

     

    #2. Barack Obama’s Recovery Act
    This has a simple and clear story structure: conflict, character, resolution.

     

     

    #3. The National Debt Road Trip
    Great use of metaphor to turn an abstract idea into something easier to imagine, and so talk about.

     

     

    #4. What are the Wall Street Protestors Angry About?
    Henry Blodget does a great job of bringing four characters to life: corporate owners, the top 1%, bankers and laborers and shows how corporate profits are sucking the life out of America. See the slide show on BusinessInsider.com

     

    #5. Hans Rosling Ikea Boxes
    Rosling is most famous for his animated bubble charts. But the Ikea boxes work even better at introducing us to the world’s inhabitants and showing how the world is changing, and will change in the future.

     

     The Full List
    And here’s the full list of publicly-available examples of storytelling with graphs I reviewed for my new book, which should be available in October 2013. Enjoy!

     

    Live/Animated Presentation
    A Song of Our Warming Planet >>
    An Inconvenient Truth  Video >>  | Transcript >>  | TED talk >>
    Are The Poor Getting Poorer?  >>
    Barack Obama’s Recovery Act >>
    Do Women Earn Less than Men? >>
    Economist (many videos to choose from) >>
    Fiscal Cliff >>
    Hans Rosling Ikea Boxes >>
    Hans Rosling’s New Insights on Poverty >>
    Hans Rosling Spread of AIDS >>
    Hans Rosling Washing Machine >>
    How Fast is Usain Bolt? >>
    How Mariano Rivera Dominates Hitters >>
    Income Mobility in America  >>
    Inside Job  >>
    LearnLiberty.org Videos (many to choose from) >>
    National Debt Road Trip  (Matthias Shapiro) >>
    Obama Budget Cuts, In Pennies  (Matthias Shapiro) >>
    U.S.A. Inc.  >>
    Visualizing How A Population Grows to 7 Billion >>
    Wealth Inequality in America >>
    What if 4 asteroids were heading toward U.S. in 50 years? >>

     

    Slide Show
    Carbon Emissions >>
    Our College Crisis (Bill Gates) >>
    What the Wall Street Protesters are Angry About  >>

     

    Interactive Graph
    Job Report, Diverging Perspectives >>
    Obesity Epidemic >>

     

    Static Graph
    Napoleon’s March on Russia  >>
    The Rich Get Richer Through the Recovery >>
    Titanic Survivors  >>
    Traffic Fatalities >>

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