In our 4MAT Train the Trainer courses, trainers often share that the Image step is one of the most difficult steps to nail in the 4MAT model. It is challenging to simplify content into a compelling image. At DevLearn last week, I was interested to see how Patti Shank approached visualizations in her breakout session titled “Getting the (Complex) Picture with Visualizations”.
Why Images? Patti summed up the power of images: they are concise, they reveal what is hidden, they illustrate complex relationships and they are generally more engaging than words. When choosing the appropriate visual, Shank recommends:
1-Begin by asking the question, “What question am I answering with this visual?” Articulate the question before you seek to find the right visual answer.
2-Answer the question, “What relationship am I trying to illustrate?”
Is the relationship of the data spatial? chronological? conceptual? qualitative?
Should I use a diagram? chart? map? relationship web?
Is the interface static? interactive? animated?
3-Look for examples of visualizations that might work to show the relationships.
Shank shared many examples of images in her session that could serve as inspiration. One of the most powerful was the video, “The Civil War in 4 Minutes”. The video is displayed in the Lincoln Library and quickly tells the story of the Civil War. If you watch the entire video, you will see how the context is created using the visual cues. There is much that can be learned the simplicity of how this visual story is told.
Here are a few more examples to get the creative juices going:
The power of context when presenting data can be seen in this TED video featuring David McCandless. David’s blog is worth a tour for visualization inspiration.
“The National Debt Road Trip” uses simple graphics and a road trip metaphor to tell the story of growing national debt. The road trip metaphor illustrates context brilliantly and visually.