I have been critiquing visual aids on Instagram for quite a while now. I do find things I like:
But most often I find things that annoy me.
I don't have any set method to this madness. I just scroll around sometimes. And when I find something that I love or hate, I throw some green analysis text on it and go.
I was taking my Rhetoric class through the process of inductive reasoning to develop a thesis from a diverse set of coded texts and I wondered if I could do the same with my own stuff.
It turns out I can. This is likely just evidence of things that annoy me, not necessarily the key things to avoid when crafting visual aids, but it was surprising to me, as if you read my book, I have quite a few things ab out visual aids that annoy me, and this is not the total list of them. So perhaps we can call these...
THE MOST EGREGIOUS ERRORS YOU CAN MAKE WHEN YOU HAVE AN AUDIENCE WHO CARES ABOUT VISUAL AIDS!
There. Totes viral, that title, yes?
I should note, in response to something you might be thinking, that I KNOW that much of SlideShare these days are simply booklet-type things that are not actual slidedecks that people would use in a presentation. They are designed like comic books of children's picture books to advertise for the company that produces them. Fair enough. And that means they will all have more text than I'd like, because one of the cardinal rules of presenation visual aids that SlideShare breaks is that...
YOUR VISUAL AIDS SHOULD REQUIRE YOU, NOT BE REQUIRED BY YOU
This means that you should not need to look at your visual aids to see where you are, like this:
Even given that SlideShare changes this equation sometimes (there are folks who still load used slidedecks up there), there are still errors that matter.
So here are the EGREGIOUS ERRORS. I have broken this up into an ongoing series of posts, since there are quite a lots of errors that pop up. These are errors of images and design and the way they interact. Thing with text and graphs/charts will be next in line. So tay tuned.
1. Distracting, Pointless Images
Images without a clear point are Distraction DEFCON 2. But images which actively cause the audience to try to figure out what's going on and inevitably find an answer which distracts from the point raises that to DEFCON 3 or 4.
Of course, images which cause the audience to think about the connection and then the result of that thinking adds to the presentation experience are great. But that kind of thing is super-rare on SlideShare. Here's one of the few:
This "additive relationship" is, for Scott McCloud, one of the things that makes comic books special. It's not just pictures. It's not just text. They can synergize:
3. Catastrophic Lack of Care for the Audience
For me, every example in this post so far would make me react with horror. But I'm talking about normal people here. Normal people who might consider the Lazy Dog typewriter slide above to be "kinda okay." Maybe that's you? But for even you "normals" out there, these have to be bothersome:
There were lots less of these, but still, wow. If I was TRYING to hurt your soul with a slide, I might design something similar. The only thing worse might be the Gettysburg Address PowerPoint made as a joke: