Whenever I’m talking with colleagues or design enthusiasts, there’s always a common theme that surfaces: how to use visuals to engage an audience in a world flooded by information. Emails, feeds, news, messages, social media, presentations — all trying to get your time and attention.
In our busy environment we are surrounded by simultaneous inputs, which can make capturing the attention of the audience a hard task. Time is crucial to everyone. So how do you convince the audience that what you are going to show them is worth their time? How can design help you to engage?
Think entertainment. Every interaction with your audience is an experience, whether it is verbal or visual. We have all heard about various presentation techniques, we have declared “death to PowerPoint”, we all want to be brilliant storytellers. In a world with lots and lots of data, we are keen to eliminate heavy data charts and graphs — distilling down the key messages and creating varied visualisations and infographics using the talent of designers and fancy software.
But before we start to play with the graphic tools, we must first think about the story. How do you want it to be perceived? What information is most important? What are the desired calls to action for this piece?
A briefing is like a treasure map to a good story. Identifying the narrative is one of the most important steps to a design that entertains. Some struggle to find their way to the story, but it is always there.
To overcome this, in the next pages I propose a little game. The idea is to identify who you want to speak to (someone), what you want to show them (something), and what kind of narrative is involved (somehow).
They are some core questions that will lead you to discover what information is important to consider as part of your project, and the best way to tell your story.
This is neither a complete nor a perfect briefing, but it will certainly help to develop your content into a meaningful story that resonates intellectually and emotionally with your audience.
Building a bridge between information and an audience can be done powerfully through visuals. Designers are able to translate the story, but it is the collaboration between all parties that will identify the most compelling narrative. We know that information has power and, with a good story, can be remarkable.