Posts Tagged ‘Infographics’

From Picasso to Presentations

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 by Justine<

It’s a little while now since I dabbled in art but today the ever informative internet has thrown up another instance where art can help us to understand presentations better.

Scientists have confirmed that Picasso’s The Blue Room is actually painted over an earlier image of a man with a moustache. This is not an unusual phenomenon, many artist did this as part of the creative process and to reuse expensive materials, indeed Picasso’s own Woman Ironing also hides a moustachioed gent (but Picasso’s penchant for hirsute men is not what we’re here for).

While it’s easy to assume that the original image was painted over with something better and was therefore inferior and not worth investigating, it’s important to remember that newer and better are not the same thing.

Fashions change in art as in everything. Anyone who’s ever bought an old house will know that peeling back layers of wallpaper can be a real journey through tastes that time forgot (and then remembered – and then forgot again). Sometimes things are replaced for nothing more than whimsy and in the case of a struggling artist I suspect that hunger or impending homelessness could also be great motivators to produce something more marketable.

Presentations are subject to the same kind of trends and pressures, often with similar results.

First there were the text heavy slides that included every minutia of the information that we wanted to share in painstaking detail. Then bullet points came along, allowing us to dispense with the standard rules for forming coherent sentences without a second thought.

It’s not that long ago that we all got very excited by clipart and merrily inserted images hither and thither, thus making the whole thing prettier.

Then there were transitions, animations, imbedded videos, motion paths – the list goes on and on. As each new thing arrives it is greedily incorporated into presentations and as its star wanes it is replaced.

But somewhere in amongst all this ‘improvement’ is every presentations ‘moustache man’.

He’s been painted over a hundred times but he’s still important because he’s the reason you have a presentation in the first place.

The problem is that as presentations become more and more advanced they can become more and more removed from their purpose. We’ve seen many variations on this over the years and the results vary from the plain ugly (Presentationstein) to the gravely misguided.

While art conservators employ the latest high tech to find out what’s behind the old masters getting to the heart of your presentation will be much easier, all you need to do is look at it through your audiences’ eyes and ask a few simple questions:

Does my presentation have a natural flow or story?
Is all the content relevant and necessary?
Do the visuals support that content effectively?
Is there a clear call to action?

If any one of these things is missing, obscured, or unclear it might well be that it’s been painted over and the result of this can also be demonstrated by art.

Whilst cleaning a 17th century painting of a coastal scene, restorers found a beached whale that had been painted over. While it’s easy to understand that a painting without a dead animal as its focus would be eminently more market friendly, restoring it did explain the ‘hitherto slightly baffling presence of groups of people on the beach, and atop the cliffs, on what appears to be a blustery winter’s day’.

Whether removing, enhancing or replacing content is for the best aesthetically is always going to be a matter of opinion, but when that process interferes with the integrity of your presentation, and prevents it from making sense, you’ve got real problems.

If you’re worried that your presentation message might have got lost along the way, we’ll be more than happy to help you, simply get in touch to find out how.

Guest Blog – 2 Cool 4 Skool or Old School..?

Friday, April 19th, 2013 by Simon<

Blogs are a marvellous way of getting things off your chest.

I’ve personally used the blog to highlight the importance of respecting your audience, frustration at tech myopia and the power of pies (or to be completely clear, pie charts).

In a similar vein, guest blogger Eamonn Wilcox ponders the latest (and worrying) presentation craze of art over substance.

As my new on-line hero Conor Neill, says the best way to grab someone’s attention is to tell a story.

As soon, as we hear the words ‘once upon a time’ we listen to what comes next. Excellent stories engage, entertain and enlighten, but the best ones are always, always about people. Presentations should do this too; it’s the relationship between the audience, the speaker and the material that makes the good ones great.

We can now make slides almost instantly and ‘for free’. Producing presentations has become so simple, bosses don’t even give them to the PA to do, let alone hire someone in. However to paraphrase Ruskin:

“There is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a little worse and quicker, and the people who consider ease alone are that person’s lawful prey.”

Just because everyone can now make trendy slideshows, just like poetry slamming, baking or karaoke, it doesn’t mean they should.

The truth is that most businesses are still run by folks who appreciate language, structure, spelling, rigor, relevance,research and respect. When Marshall McLuhan said “the medium is the message” I don’t think he could have seen how far down that darkening path we would go.

They say don’t shoot the messenger, but sometimes the ‘medium-er’ has it coming.

Considering what a presentation’s for is always more important than which cute images were used or how it looks on facetwitterblogged-in. “Totally awesome” presentations about how to make this “totally awesome” presentation and what makes it “totally awesome”, are totally awful. It’s just online onanism.

The pervasive perky pastels and peppy pictures popping up in packs produced by purported professionals probably prohibit presentations appearing appropriate, practical, practicable, pertinent or persuasive. (Whew!)

You could say that the new gurus are giving their clients what they ask for, or that the garish graphics distract from the blinding flashes of the obvious, and that charm or charisma compensate for the lack of content. However, it’s dangerous to put cutting edge cool in the hands of the clueless, credulous and the convinced.

It really doesn’t matter if you’re old school or too cool for school, there are no extra marks for double underlining the title in red, adding stickers, putting it in a binder and we don’t need to see the all the workings in the margin.

You still need to

  • Do your homework,
  • Understand the assignment and
  • Answer the question.

Now, please turn over your papers.

All hail the weather presenters (pun intended)

Thursday, February 14th, 2013 by Simon<

There’s no doubt us Brits are a little obsessed with the weather.  From slavishly watching reports on impending snow-based gridlock to the fervent prayers for a summer with at least some sun, we’re hooked.

This puts the lowly weather presenter under a lot of pressure.  They need to clearly and succinctly share a lot of potentially technical information with their audience.  Their audience will all have slightly different agendas/interests depending on where they live or their travel plans.  Oh, and they need to do this day in, day out (on the hour in the mornings!) so keeping it fresh and engaging is also important.

A tough gig for any presenter…so how do they do it?

Spookily they rely on the 3 key facets of effective presenting that form the basis of our Presentation Optimisation methodology:

  • A clear message
  • The right content
  • Powerful and valuable visuals

Each and every weather forecast starts and finishes with the big message – it’s either going to be rainy, sunny, changeable…  Whatever the forecast, the message is delivered in such a way that the audience knows how exactly the weather is going to impact them (and whether packing an umbrella will prove to be a good idea).

That message is then supported by a level of content that demonstrates how and why the weather is behaving in a particular way.  As an audience, we nod sagely at talk of high pressures coming in from the east but the truth is that this content is shared to merely back up the important message (in the case of the UK, it’s going to rain).  Adding extraneous content merely gets in the way and runs the risk of confusing the message.

To push it over the line, TV presenters use visuals to demonstrate the key message.

The presentation genius of the weather guys and gals is here for all to see – rather than overly complex graphics of isobars and other meteorological clutter, they use simple icons* to help deliver the overarching message – it’s going to rain, don’t forget your umbrella. Visually, less is more when delivering a simple message.

Now apply this thinking to your business presentation…

Do you have a clear message?  Are you running the risk of confusing or reducing the impact of the message by cluttering up the presentation with content you simply don’t need?  Are your visuals helping you clearly deliver on your message or there to justify your content (hint – it should be the former).

Get this right and you’re on the road to what we call Presentation Optimisation…and a more engaged informed audience.

* It’s interesting to note that the BBC received a lot of grumpy letters and e-mails a few years ago when they moved away from their super simple weather icons to a more animated version.  If the animation is getting in the way of delivering a clear message (a la over engineered PowerPoint, Keynote and Prezi presentations), you run the risk of terminally confusing your audience.

Infographics used and abused

Thursday, July 19th, 2012 by Justine<

There has been a lot of chatter around Eyeful Towers of late on the subject of Infographics.  We’re great fans of them here at Eyeful but there have been some industry rumblings of late about whether they can still cut the mustard.

Personally I am always a little suspicious regarding the meaning of any word that is clearly made up from others that are already doing an honest day’s work but in the interests of education I’m going in….

According to Wikipedia, infographics are

Graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge…. (used to) present complex information quickly and clearly.

According to my Collins dictionary (hard copy) of 2009 it’s not even a word. But this is not a story about recent innovation; infographics have been around for a long time, it’s just that they were given a new name. Maps are info graphics, as are road signs, green men (on pedestrian crossings – not in space) and Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man also fit the brief.

Unfortunately like anything simple and effective they seem to be falling victim to misunderstanding and overuse. Much of the current griping about infographics has been accompanied by examples; yet strangely many of these examples have not even been infographics. Plonking text on a pictorial background does not an infographic make.

Infographics are so much more than pictures…

We know that when it comes to presentations well-designed infographics make your presentation not only visually appealing but also contribute toward audience engagement, understanding and retention. That’s why Eyeful and our customers love them. Infographics are also the most multi lingual of communication devices (we have even sent one into space on Pioneer 10, just in case those other green men really exist).

Still not convinced? Consider this…  For every person standing uncomfortably outside a pub toilet trying to work out if they’re a ‘Cob’ or a ‘Pen’, there are millions who are immediately comforted by the neckless lady in the A line skirt and her bandy legged male accomplice.

Or Mr and Mrs Infographic as I like to call them.


Share and Share Alike

Monday, January 23rd, 2012 by Justine<

It would have been hard for any internet user to have missed the current controversy regarding file sharing. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) which are currently being considered by the US Congress have got a lot of knickers in a variety of interminable twists.

To cut a long story short (and delicately skirt around the intricate legalities) there is concern that if the legislation goes through a lot of the information that is currently freely available on the internet will become illegal and (possibly) disappear.


The internet inspires ideas, direction and content – all things that are vital to the creation of effective presentations.

At Eyeful we have always shared with the World, passing on information that has inspired us and helping to promote the sort of creativity that gets us excited.

Whether this sort of community spirit will become illegal remains to be seen…. but it will be a sad day at Eyeful Towers if it does.

To continue my grossly oversimplified version of events this will be a complete pain in the rear end.


If your search engine can only take you to information that has been uploaded by someone who understands every piece of possibly relevant legislation and has followed it to the letter, internet inspiration will be very skinny indeed.


Communication as Art?

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011 by Justine<

I was pondering recently about ‘the art of communication’ and in my occasionally very literal way of thinking I decided to run with it for a while – so here goes…

The artist has a message to portray and the audience interprets that message – but how often do the expressed message and the received message agree?

Constable knew how to paint a countryside scene, and LS Lowry could skip the finer detail and still get his message across. Botticelli had an eye for detail (nipples mostly) and Michelangelo beats Artex any day of the week. I worry about the physiological integrity of Salvador Dali’s elephants but I can see that he knew how to drive a paintbrush. I can’t, however, see the attraction of having half a dead, cartilaginous fish in my lounge (sorry Damien) and firmly believe that Carl Andre missed the opportunity for a built in barbeque by just piling his bricks in the Tate.

As you can see, I’m no expert but I do believe that I’m pretty average in my thinking here.  If communication is art, there’s a lesson here for us all.

A message delivered is not necessarily a message received.  By the same token, a message received is not necessarily a message understood…and a message that no-one understands is no message at all!


Now time for you to ponder…how does your corporate presentation measure up in terms of delivering a message?  Perhaps more importantly – how do you know?

Infographics…and balloons

Sunday, May 8th, 2011 by Simon<

Regular readers to our little blog will know our fondness for infographics.

Anything that can take a complex message and deliver it in a clear and easily understood manner is alright by us.

So you can imagine the frisson of excitement that greeted the recent “homemade infographics” article from one of our favourite journals, Fast Company.

Simply click on these pictures to see how combining some data, a couple of balloons and a fertile imagination can reap real rewards:

Homemade Infographics1Homemade Infographics2

The full article is also well worth a read.  In short, it begs you to think differently about the way you present data – a lack of top notch design tools is no excuse for not clearly communicating your message. 

Simple and elegant…a bit like an infographic.

The Wonder of Infographics – Kitchen Utensils

Thursday, February 10th, 2011 by Simon<

We’ve made no secret of our love for the all-powerful Infographic.

At their best, they manage to blend design beauty with clear and concise communication – a clever trick.

Take this example from one of our favourite magazines, Fast Company and Pop Chart Lab:


Yep, in the right hands even a can opener or colander takes on a whole new meaning and importance.  Clever, eh?

Now the tricky bit – think about how the everyday objects/elements that make up your proposition can be developed into something a little more engaging (and, whilst you’re at it, more elegant too).

More Infographics…Because They’re Very Clever

Friday, December 24th, 2010 by Simon<

OK – we admit it…this isn’t particularly seasonal. 

That said, we do get very excited about a clever infographic (especially when animated)…and this is a cracker.  Diabetes is a growing issue in industrialised countries, putting pressure on health services and economies across the globe.

Diabetes Infographic

Click on the image above to go the Slate Labs website to check out how they’ve used graphics to demonstrate the growing impact of this disease.

Our Favourite Infographics #1 – WikiLeaks

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010 by Matt<

We’d hate to be accused of not having our finger on the pulse so the first in our series of “Infographics we really like” is extremely topical – WikiLeaks. 


Handy hint – click on the image to have a closer look

Fast Company (one of our favourite magazines…) highlighted this in their blog and we thought it was simply too nice not to share.