The courage to move beyond bullet points

Cartoon depicting a presenter speaking to an audience showing lightbulbs slowing turning on above everyone's head

Last week I got to hang out with my friend and data visualization rockstar Stephanie Evergreen, who stopped by my company for a day of talks.

Her ability to connect with academic audiences is just amazing.  At one point during the day I remember turning to look into the crowd and I could just see lightbulbs popping on, one by one by one.  Even by audience members who arrived with such a high level of resistance that it was almost palpable.

That moment inspired today’s cartoon.

I loved this passage Stephanie wrote in a recent blog post: Academia, The Last Bastion of Change

“Presenting data effectively is a culture changer. It’s a movement toward being understood.

The bullet points are just a comfortable cardigan with elbow patches that appears as a suit of armor which will defend you against criticism.

Breaking away from the cloudiness produced by bullets and tables and moving toward clarity is an act of personal courage.

It means your audiences will accurately judge your credibility based on how they were trained – on your design, your methods, your assumptions. It’s a risk that people will actually understand your study, both its strengths and weaknesses. And that is the point of being an academic – to pursue knowledge and share it with your field.”