Visualization is a means to make presentations and discussions, and thus sharing of information and knowledge more efficient and effective. The spoken word is supported by a visual representation (text, pictures, graphics, etc.). The most frequently used means of visualization in meetings are beamer or overhead projector for presentations, and charts or cards for recording discussions. And not to forget the strengths of objects such as stones, figures, wood, grains, etc. that are powerful visualization tools in a discussion with non literate people.
- helps to stay focused on the point under discussion,
- makes the content easier to remember,
- forces the speaker to prepare his/her input in advance using precise and concrete arguments,
- reduces emotional implications in a heated discussion,
- serves as documentation by recording statements, ideas, results and to-do lists.
Rules of Visualization
Write legibly! Check font size, density, contrast; block lettering, distance between letters and words.
Use colours restrictively! White chart paper increases legibility. Use black markers for general text and coloured ones for special effects and decoration. If using pin-board cards, select pastel-coloured cards.
Let posters speak for themselves! Put an attractive title on top or in the centre. Structure your poster to guide the eye (titles, paragraphs, bullets, boxes, mind-map format, etc.). Take the reading direction into account (top to bottom or from centre outwards). Be aware of the saying: "If the eye is not attracted, the feet will pass by."
Use a simple language. Avoid abbreviations.
Install technical equipment before the meeting! Check if it is running properly. Verify the legibility of the visualization.
Experience with Visualization
“From my experience it is much easier for listeners to absorb the content of a presentation if it is visualized, and we can then also better talk about the matter presented. I always advice the staff when preparing presentations to include pictures and illustrations - not only text. And not all text needs to be written on the slides, additional comments presented orally make the presentation livelier!”
“Additionally, to make sure that the listeners are attentive and not occupied by reading handouts, I suggest: Either distribute the slides only after the meeting with the minutes, or send them out for preparation already with the invitation to the meeting.”
Aida Voloder, Cooperation Office Sarajevo (2011)
“In a key moment during a workshop, a simple picture of a funnel on a flipchart helped me to create a common understanding of the workshop objective and the process.
For the planning of a new country strategy, we started on the first day with a very wide discussion on the future of the country programme. In the course of the workshop the discussion was then narrowed down and would result in the end in a strategy document. This simple metaphor of the funnel visualized this process. Once introduced, the visualization was referred to throughout the workshop and helped to keep the focus in each step on the appropriate level.“
Lukas Frey, Eastern and Southern Africa Division (2011)
“Maybe the most valuable side effect while preparing a visualized input – the message I want to transfer is getting even clearer to me!”
Reto Wieser, Senior Advisor Social Development Division (2007)
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