Archives for May 2012

How The King of Communicators Inspired Change

Ever wondered how the great orators of history crafted and delivered such memorable speeches that resonated with their audience?

Nancy Duarte of Duarte Design – the company responsible for turning Al Gore’s Powerpoint slides into an Oscar-winning quality story in ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ – has dissected Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech from the 1963 March on Washington D.C., to show how it’s done.

In this fascinating analysis, Duarte extracted each line of Dr King’s speech and organised it according to tense in order to show visually how he moved the audience from ‘what is’ to ‘what could be’, ending with the positive situation the speaker and audience wish to manifest, ‘the new bliss’:

screenshot of Duarte's dissection of King's speech, showing where parts referred to the present, and the future

Don’t worry that you can’t read the words – they’re being used here for a different purpose, to show the structure of the speech.

Duarte then separated out elements of the speech, colour-coded them, and plotted them in accordance with where they were used by Dr King. Here’s a visual overlay of each element:

Repetition (identified in blue), a device to drive a point home, and usually done in threes – here are points in the Dr King’s speech where repetition was used:

screenshot of graphic showing where King's words were repetition

Dr King’s most well-known repetitions from this speech were the words ‘I have a dream…’, but he also used it in other sections of his speech:

But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. 

This paragraph is also rich with metaphor, or visual words.

Metaphors and visual words (identified in pink) were used liberally by Dr King:

screenshot of graphic showing where King's words were metaphorical

Dr King uses the metaphor of a check, and a bank account – one that would be familiar to most people – to speak of justice:

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check – a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

Cultural references (identified in green), show where Dr King used songs, scripture, literature that were familiar and dear to the audience:

screenshot of graphic showing where King used cultural references

Dr King referenced ‘Free At Last’, a Negro spiritual song in his rousing finish to his delivery:

Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring—when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children—black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics—will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Political references (identified in orange), show where Dr King refers to political events, dates or documents, like the Declaration of Independence:

screenshot of graphic showing where King used political references

At the beginning of his speech, Dr King invokes abolitionist President Abraham Lincoln and echoes Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (which began ‘Four score and seven years ago…’)

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

It is worth nothing that the most powerful and memorable part of Dr King’s speech combined ALL of these elements: repetition, metaphor, cultural and political references:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” (political)

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. (repetition, metaphor)

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. (repetition, metaphor)

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. (repetition)

I have a dream today. (repetition)

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. (repetition, metaphor)

I have a dream today. (repetition)

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. (repetition, metaphor, cultural – scripture)

Each of these elements, along with Dr King’s measured delivery and speaking style, combined to create a powerful emotional call to action. Dr King was not appealing to the ‘logical’ part of the brain, but intent on shifting the heart.

As noted in ‘Motivating Sustainable Behaviour’, it is more effective to inspire and involve people, and give them a sense of agency over their situation than it is to rationalise and instruct. Martin Luther King appealed to people with ‘I have a dream’ – not ‘ I have a plan’.

Here is Duarte’s analysis in full (7 mins):

It would be fascinating to see a similar visual analysis of speeches by another great political orator of King’s era, President John F Kennedy.

A cursory glance at JFK’s Inaugural Address from 20 January 1961 shows all of the elements of King’s speech: repetition, metaphor, scripture, political references:

Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us…

Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce. (repetition, metaphor)

Let both sides unite to heed, in all corners of the earth, the command of Isaiah – to “undo the heavy burdens, and [to] let the oppressed go free.” (cultural – scripture)

And, if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion…(metaphor)

And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. (repetition, call to action)

In his address at the American University, 10 June 1963:

“When a man’s way[s] please the Lord,” the Scriptures tell us, “He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” And is not peace, in the last analysis, basically a matter of human rights: the right to live out our lives without fear of devastation; the right to breathe air as nature provided it; the right of future generations to a healthy existence? (repetition, cultural – scripture)

For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal. (metaphor, repetition)

Duarte has also applied this technique to other historical speeches, such as Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and from more recent times, Steve Jobs’s iPhone launch speech. You can learn more about creating messages and storytelling approaches in Duarte’s book, ‘Resonate’.

Yet King’s speech is perhaps the best example – not only is it memorable, it has become a cultural icon that has touched audiences beyond those who were immediately involved in the civil rights struggle, and has continued to be influential beyond the time and cultural context in which it was made.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Address at March on Washington, August 28, 1963. Washington, D.C. (17 mins)

It’s success depended very much on the spirit of the man, but also on the structure and delivery of his most cherished message.

Which other great historical or contemporary speeches would you like to see dissected and analysed? 

How well do you know your audience? What metaphors would you use, and what cultural and political references could you tap into when presenting to them? 

If you’d like to get Cruxcatalyst via email, click here to subscribe to this blog.

If you liked this post, please consider sharing it using the buttons below.

Listen

Strategic Questioning – Asking Questions That Make A Difference

black and white photo of Fran Peavey

Fran Peavey Image Credit: The Jobs Letter

Practitioners working in all kinds of social change will gain value from exploring the Strategic Questioning Manual, developed by the late activist and changemaker Fran Peavey, and published online by The Change Agency.

This overview of Strategic Questioning has been compiled from the Manual, and from notes taken by Crux during a workshop Peavey ran in Adelaide in 2001.

Strategic Questioning offers essential tools for any change agent. Peavey defined it as follows:

Strategic Questioning is a way of talking with people with whom you have differences without abandoning your own beliefs and yet looking for common ground which may enable both parties to co-create a new path from the present situation. In every heart there is ambiguity; in every ideology there are parts that don’t fit.

Strategic Questioning is the skill of asking the questions that will make a difference.

From First Kind to Second Kind Communication

Strategic Questioning offers a way to move from ‘communication of the first kind’ to ‘communication of the second kind’.

Communication of the first kind is characterised by the static/passive voice, how reality is now, and transmits information which is already known.

Many people brought up in a traditional education system received schooling based on asking and responding to questions to which the answers were already known: ‘What is the capital of Spain? What is eight plus six?’

The lesson learnt was that questions have finite and ‘correct’ answers, and there is usually one answer for each question. Wrong answers were punished with bad marks. Learning was about ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ answers, and questions were typically limited to those for which the ‘authority’ already knew the answer, not ones which may have exposed the authority’s ignorance.

Of this binary approach to learning, Peavey noted that although:

…this may be a convenient way of running schools and testing people’s capacity for memory in examinations, it has not been a very empowering learning process, or a good preparation for the questions that will be coming up in life…all this is unfortunate to our times, because in the early 2000s – in our personal, professional and public lives – we are surrounded with questions that have no simple answers.

Communication of the second kind is characterised by its dynamic/creative voice, how things could be, calls forth the new. Strategic Questioning is a form of this ‘communication of the second kind’.

A Strategic Question:

  • creates motion – enables the structure of the conversation to move from the static to the dynamic
  • creates options – looks for alternatives (while avoiding questions which suggest a specific alternative eg. ‘have you considered…?’), instead asking what else is possible
  • avoids ‘why’? questions – such questions ask people to defend or justify their position, or talk about the present in terms of the past
  • avoids ‘yes/no’ answers – ask questions which defuse dualistic, binary thinking (which sees things in terms of black/white, either/or, right/wrong) by getting people to do some ‘thinking work’, and moving them from a passive into a creative state
  • is empowering – allowing someone to take what is already in their head and develop it further, rather than putting ideas into their head
  • asks the ‘unaskable’ – there is tremendous power in asking ‘taboo’ questions, as such questions are usually unaskable because they challenge the values and assumptions on which something is based
  • is a simple, not compound question – addresses one thing at a time, and minimises the need for analysis

Strategic Questioning is really part of a broader ‘family’ of questions, the first series of which are not strategic questions, though they are necessary for strategic questioning to work because they set the context:

Context Questions

  • Focus Questions: gather information that is already known, identifying the situation and they key facts necessary to understand the situation. Example: ‘What are you most concerned about in your community?’
  • Observation Questions: concerned with what someone has seen and the information someone has heard regarding the situation. Examples include: ‘What do you see?’, ‘Which sources do you trust and why?’, ‘What do you know for certain and what are you not sure about?’
  • Feeling Questions: concerned with body sensations, emotions, health. Examples include: ‘How do you feel about the situation?’, ‘How has the situation affected your own physical or emotional health?’

Strategic Questions

Once context-setting questions have been asked, then a group can be moved into Strategic Questions, which may include:

  • Visioning Questions: concerned with identifying ideals, dreams and values. Examples include: ‘How would you like it to be?’, ‘What about this situation do you care so much about?’
  • Change Questions: move from the static to the dynamic, how to get from the present to a more ideal situation. Examples include: ‘Who can make a difference?’, ‘How did those changes come about?’, ‘What will it take to bring the current situation towards the ideal?’
  • Considering Alternatives: questions which enable someone to imagine or identify (preferably more than two) alternatives. Examples include: ‘What other ways could you meet your goal?’, ‘What are the consequences of each alternative you see?’
  • Personal Inventory & Support Questions: identifying someone’s interests, potential contributions and the support required for them to act. Examples include: ‘What would it take for you to participate in the change?’, ‘What support would you need to work for this change?’
  • Personal Action Questions: designed to get to the specifics of what to do, when to do it, and how. Examples include: ‘Who do you need to talk to?’, ‘How can you get others to work on this?’
stylised image of black and white head with maze through brain, question mark in brain and exclamation point at mouth

Using Strategic Questioning in Organisational & Social Change

In her assessment of how organisations have typically approached change, Peavey identified key flaws in the modus operandi:

Many organisational leaders and social change workers have been taught the process of determining in their own mind or in their group a policy or ‘idea’ which would be a positive change. They set about marketing this idea to the public through speeches, leaflets and meetings.

As many working in social change are all too aware, this approach is often risky, as there is no broad-based ‘buy-in’ or ownership of the policy or idea. People are rarely convinced to adopt a new position through rational argument, especially where it conflicts with deeply held (and sometimes unconscious) values.

Our ability to overcome to move beyond this deadlock depends in large part on our ability to have effective conversations, especially with those who hold different views to ourselves:

In many societies people are taught to have defensive and combative conversation styles, expressing opinions rather than opening up to the growing edge of what one is coming to know. The consequence of defensive conversations is that while one is listening to the ideas and opinions of others, one’s inner eye is focused on what one will say to rebut the position of the other.

The best way to empower people is to help them find their own way to the ideas and strategies that reside inside of themselves.

When to Use Strategic Questioning

Times of uncertainty, conflict and confusion – and opportunity-generating crises – call for a different approach to communication.

Peavey identified a range of opportune times to use Strategic Questioning, including when:

  • your organisation is undergoing major change
  • when you need to understand the life experience, rationale or degree of commitment of the resistance to your campaign
  • you have been working on something for a long time and have run out of ideas
  • you are feeling isolated or are cynical that anybody cares about the things you care about
  • your group is fragmented and conflicted – strategic questioning will help clarify positions and look for new alternatives
  • a group only sees one or two alternatives and needs to do some creative thinking together

All of these situations are junctures where there complex issues and no simple or ‘known’ answers that ‘first kind’ communication will yield. ‘Second kind’ communication is needed for the ways forward to be co-created and revealed.

The Ethics of Strategic Questioning

Peavey placed a strong emphasis on the ethics of using Strategic Questioning, and the need to keep our own identities and opinions – our egos – out of the process.

Often we confuse our opinions with our essence as a living being. Our belief structure and our values are very close to the core of who we think ourselves to be…in the old model of power we’ve been taught to think that we’re superior, and that we have the point of view which everyone else needs.

Strategic Questioning does not require that the practitioner forget about his or her own opinions, which would be disrespectful to oneself. It only means that you carry your opinions in a way that does not interfere with the dialogue, the respect and the exploration of alternatives that you are trying to achieve.

Try to imagine putting your opinions in your pocket before doing Strategic Questioning – they’re still there, you can touch them, but they’re not interfering with the task at hand. Strategic Questioning is about an empathic approach to listening, not manipulation or control of the conversation – keep as little of your own personality from interfering as possible. Design your questions to let the answers emerge from the person or people affected, rather than offering your own suggestions.

Some approaches to help with this are:

  • use curiousity in lieu of judgment
  • check that your questions do not include assumptions
  • allow others’ feelings to be expressed without attempting to ‘fix’ them

Peavey also points out that using Strategic Questioning may change the questioner, as well as the questionee, as new  perspectives are revealed:

When we open ourselves to another point of view, our own ideas will have to shift to take into account new information. If you want to control the outcome, you are really fundraising and using questioning as a ploy to get a person’s trust – if you take satisfaction in conversion, please do not use Strategic Questioning.

More detail on the principles, approaches and techniques of Strategic Questioning can be found in Fran Peavey’s Strategic Questioning Manual.

Have you found that changing how you ask questions changes the dynamic of your conversations?

It can be difficult to keep our own opinions out of the process of listening to others – what techniques have you used? 

If you’d like to get Cruxcatalyst via email, click here to subscribe to this blog.

If you liked this post, please consider sharing it using the buttons below.

Listen

Placemaking for Sustainable Communities

David Engwicht posing with his traffic tamer's whip

Image credit

In recent years, the value of placemaking has become increasingly appreciated, not only for creating enjoyable public places, but for the very real social and economic role it can play in strengthening communities and commerce.

I recently attended Creative Communities’ Placemaking course which has been touring Australia and New Zealand in early 2012.

Founded in 2002, Creative Communities is the company of David Engwicht, author of ‘Towards an Ecocity: Calming the Traffic’, ‘Street Reclaiming’ and ‘Mental Speed Bumps’. Engwicht is known for one of his more famous inventions, the Walking School Bus, among many other innovative approaches to urban design and placemaking.

As a young person who had just become involved in the ecological city movement in Adelaide, and who later undertook postgrad study in urban planning, ‘Towards An Ecocity’ (1992) had a profound influence on my understanding of planning, urban design and the psychology of place.

The book’s definition and visual clarification of ‘exchange’ space vs ‘movement’ space, and planned vs spontaneous exchange; lay-explanation of chaos theory in relation to city-making; the example of Donald Appleyard‘s work in showing how traffic impacts on communities; it’s observations of how cities worked and how people behaved in them – presented sometimes complex concepts in an accessible way for the beginner, as well as some refreshing perspectives for experts.

Having always discovered something new and useful from Engwicht whenever I’ve read one of his books or attended a session where he was speaking, I was keen to attend his workshop and learn about about his insights into placemaking.

life size inflatable tiger wearing black top hat

Image credit: Creative Communities

In typical Engwicht style, participants were greeted by a giant inflatable tiger on entering the room. One can only imagine the stories this bit of kit generates at airport security checks around the world!

Much hilarity ensued during morning tea breaks, where we were all invited to have our picture taken with the tiger, wearing the ‘tiger tamer’s’ getup of black top hat and red-and-white coloured whip, as a memento of the event.

Engwicht is a devotee of fun, play, the whimsical – and it’s role as a critical tool in successful placemaking – which he brings into his training as well as his practice.

There were two modules to the training – on day one, The Art of Placemaking included exploring fourteen secrets of creating great places; why psychology is the core of place making, embracing contradiction and conflict as drivers of great places; why community consultation is failing, and what new approaches could be used.

On day two, the second module, Becoming a More Creative Place Maker, included an examination of why traditional problem solving is flawed; how to question the assumptions behind problems as they are presented to get to the underlying issues; why an over-focus on ‘master planning’ can actually reduce resilience; and the seven environmental conditions that create an  ‘ecology of creativity and resilience’.

Engwicht has worked all around the world at the invitation of different communities, and his expertise has been derived from observation, practical application of ideas, and testing and refining them. The wisdom he offers in concepts like Dual Spiral Thinking and Agile Planning is very much grounded in an extensive track record of real-world experience.

The concept of ‘a space does not become a place until it is used in ways other than the designer intended’ was vividly illustrated with photographic examples of what that looks like from several countries, and stories of many successful, inexpensive micro-approaches to creating place.

What’s fascinating about Engwicht’s teaching and examples of his own and others’ experience is that so much of it seems counter-intuitive at face value (see The Safety Paradox and predictability) – this is because he has a deep understanding of the human psyche, culture and behaviour.

One exercise asked us to use ‘Fool’s Wisdom’ to stimulate creative breakthroughs in thinking – to spark and blaze new neural pathways by coming up with the most foolish option that would seem to counteract the intended outcome, instead of the most obvious way one would typically address the challenge.

The Fool, or Jester, was considered an important part of public life in past centuries – they could breach taboos and challenge conventional wisdom through humour, which may have been a dangerous tactic for ‘serious’ discussions.

Engwicht’s books and training are thoroughly recommended for anyone interested in sustainable communities, because placemaking is an integral part of manifesting the resilience needed to quickly adapt to social and environmental change.

Creative Communities’ 2012 tour has now ended, but a DIY ‘Workshop in a Box’ Placemaking Kit will be available later this year – you can get yourself on the mailing list by subscribing at the web site, or following Creative Communities on Facebook to find out when the kit is available, and be alerted to forthcoming workshops in your area.

Have you ever been involved in any placemaking work? What was successful – and what wasn’t?

How do you see placemaking’s role in creating sustainable communities?

If you’d like to get Cruxcatalyst via email, click here to subscribe to this blog.

If you liked this post, please consider sharing it using the buttons below.

Listen

The Spirit of Occupy – A Visual Story

group of people holding up series of A3 letters that spell out 'Another World Is Possible'

Visual storytelling has been the subject of a number of Crux posts thus far, so I decided to take my own advice, test my fledgling iMovie skills and put together the following clip set to the song ‘Under Pressure’ by Queen, featuring David Bowie:

The clip conveys the uprising of people in places from Iceland, Tunisia, Egypt, the US, the UK, Greece and elsewhere against financial and political corruption and oppression, the response of authorities to that uprising, and a sense of hope.

Excepting a few words on placards and signs (and of course, the song lyrics), the clip uses no language. The song by itself carries a powerful  emotional arc – coupled with the choice and sequencing of a range of emotionally-charged images, it has resonated with people who have left comments on Facebook and YouTube.

With a little promotion through social media networks, it has had over 700 views since it was posted on 4 May – how far it travels remains to be seen.

However the main point is that with readily available, easy to use tools, and a basic understanding of storytelling and social media, it is possible to create compelling messages and get them out there.

Have you used any kind of video to convey a story about your work? How was it received – was it more effective in terms of reach than other forms of communication like articles and images?

If you’d like to get Cruxcatalyst via email, click here to subscribe to this blog.

If you liked this post, please consider sharing it using the buttons below.

Listen

Making Numbers Meaningful

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then visual approaches to communicating large numbers or complex topics are worth their weight in gold.

Yet much sustainability communication still relies on words, even though 75% of our brain is devoted to visual processing.

Animations, photography, data visualisations, art, film – all play a critical role in communicating meaning through converting data into narrative. They enable the human brain to grasp and process concepts much more readily than trying to analyse reams of information.

A Map In the Information Jungle

Data journalist and information designer David McCandless, founder of Information is Beautiful, visualises information with a minimum of words in order to ‘…help us understand the world…and reveal the hidden connections, patterns and stories underneath.’

In this fascinating and often comical presentation, McCandless shares some insights he has revealed through his work as a ‘data detective’:

By visualizing information, we turn it into a landscape that you can explore with your eyes, a sort of information map. And if you’re navigating a dense information jungle, coming across a beautiful graphic or a lovely data visualization, it’s a relief, it’s like coming across a clearing in the jungle. The eye is exquisitely sensitive to patterns in variations in color, shape and pattern. If you combine the language of the eye with the language of the mind, which is about words and numbers and concepts, you start speaking two languages simultaneously, each enhancing the other.

Animating Information

Taking data visualisation a step further, presenting numbers and concepts in an animated way (particularly if it is interactive) can be enormously powerful, compressing large amounts of information into a format readily digestible by the human brain.

FlinkLabs took 200 years’ worth of global temperature readings released by the UK’s Met Office and turned it into an animated visualisation to show changes in global temperature readings.

The Met stated that the data, taken from a subset of stations evenly distributed across the globe, provides a ‘fair representation of changes in mean temperature on a global scale over land’.

This approach makes it far easier for the average person to grasp the meaning that would otherwise remain hidden in the data – the Earth visibly becomes ‘pricklier’ with temperature changes over time:

This animation was put together in response to a specific call to action by the data viz community, who understand the power of their method of communication for change:

This represents a great momentum for all of us involved in Visualization at large to be part of the solution and deliver a clear unequivocal view on what’s happening with our planet. Regardless of how you label your practice, Information Visualization, Data Visualization, Information Design, Visual Analytics, or Information Graphics, this is ultimately a call for everyone dealing with the communication of information for human reasoning.

Weaving Data Visualisation Magic

The incredible series ‘Welcome to the Anthropocene‘ was compiled over 13 years by Canadian anthropologist and director of environmental group Globaia, Felix Pharand.

Using an ordinary home PC, Pharand input data from agencies such as the Geospatial Intelligence Agency and Atmospheric Administration to create accurate illustrations of how humans have ‘domesticated’ our planet – superimposing the data on images of the earth’s cities lit up at night.

The series literally illuminates how much the face of the Earth has been modified by human beings through plotting and representing every road, shipping route and flight path.

Represented here are the air traffic routes across North America and Europe, from hubs such as Heathrow, JFK in New York and Frankfurt:

Air traffic routes across North America and Europe - showing the 'hubs' that connect the world, such as London's Heathrow, JFK in New York and Frankfurt

A stunning animated version of Pharand’s work has so effectively captured data that it needs no words to convey its meaning; for example, it offers a clear observation: the contrast between the extent of human encroachment in Europe and North America, compared to Africa and vast areas of South America.

And ‘The Master’ (as David McCandless refers to him in his talk above), Hans Rosling – Professor of International Health at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and creator of The Gapminder Foundation – is a wizard at presenting outrageously large amounts of data spanning space, time, and issues in a compelling and entertaining way.

In this amazing clip from ‘The Joy of Stats’ – and channelling special effects akin to those used in the movie ‘Minority Report’! – Rosling plots life expectancy against income for every country since 1810, using an incredible 120,000 numbers in four minutes:

Rosling interprets the data in relation to world events, putting it into context – he tells the story.

The Gapminder Foundation, established by Rosling and others, developed the Trendalyzer software Rosling uses to plot his data. Gapminder has been made available for others to create their own graphs, from their own data sets or those sets available on Gapminder.

In this age of highly visual, shareable communication, having a visual designer on your team (or having access to one) is as essential as having a web designer or writer.

What opportunities can you think of to use visual communication in your work to better communicate its meaning? 

What barriers do you face in making this happen – skills? Money? A perception that visual communication is less important?

If you’d like to get Cruxcatalyst via email, click here to subscribe to this blog.

If you liked this post, please consider sharing it using the buttons below.

Listen