We get bombarded with information every day, so it is only logical that we’re going to be very selective with the information we store. So as a presenter, my call to action for you is clear: We must simplify what we present, so as not to overload our audience. Keep in mind: Simplicity is not easy to achieve. In the words of someone who knows what he’s talking about:
“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”
I always loved this quote from Pablo Picasso. It shows us that simplicity is really hard to achieve. When we start our thinking process, we usually dump all our thoughts on the table, and than we try to glue it all together so it somewhat fits on a slide. As presenters, we are all guilty of doing this; but when we are in the role of audience, we hate listening to all of that. Adding more is all to easy, but it’s really difficult to remove all the things that don’t help bring our points across, and only distract from it. But that is our goal!
We can learn another lesson from Picasso by examining the supporting image of this blog. This is Picasso’s The Bull. In 10 steps It shows us how to get from a more classical, realistic image to the essence, abstract version of the same animal. With every step we’re seeing a more abstract version of the bull, with as final image the most simplistic version. And to quote Albert Einstein on this: ‘’Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler”. If would be, it would lose its meaning and we can no longer call it the abstract version of the original. I use this example to show that getting to the right level of simplicity is a complex process. You can not just go from Bull 1 to Bull 11, you gradually work towards it.
In my work I help professional speakers with their material and the majority of my work is removing the noise, trying to find the core of what they want to present. As an outsider it is usually easier to do so, because you already have a certain distance and have no emotional attachment to their ideas.
I’m going to stop here because I made my point and if you got this far, I consider you a reader (a rare species nowadays). And stay tuned, this is going to be the first of many blogs about Simplicity In Design (S.I.D.)