A few years ago, an elder and psychologist in a local church actually took the time to come to my office, sit me down, and talk to me face to face. He explained, “Doug, you have so many ideas and they’re so clear to you — but they’re not clear to others. You need some way of illustrating them or explaining them. Otherwise, people misunderstand them and, even if they try to follow the idea, later, if there’s some misunderstanding, they become angry at you because they feel you didn’t explain yourself well enough up front.” At the time, I remember being perplexed about it. He finally go to the point: Could you find some way to illustrate your ideas, so we know exactly what you’re proposing?

I first tried transparencies, using an overhead projector. Honestly, my drawings and my handwriting were horrible and hard to read. So it was a game-changer when I discovered Harvard Graphics (now obsolete), which prepared snazzy transparencies (for a premium price, of course). Then I tried Lotus Freelance (now also obsolete), which was easier and maybe a bit more affordable. The problem was, once the software became obsolete, I couldn’t make any more changes to my presentation — so a lot of my work was locked in the past. Third, I began using PowerPoint. (Yawn. Doesn’t everybody?) Then I happened upon Prezi (which sometimes gives me motion sickness :-) ). But regardless of what I used, I ended up with a digital presentation that was tough for my listeners to take home. They’d ask, “Could I get a copy of your PowerPoint?” If they didn’t own PowerPoint, I could use this “pack and go” deal to give them a PowerPoint viewer, but it still seemed convoluted. And they were always having to look through 20 slides to get my big idea.

So recently, my son, Caleb, said to me, “Dad, you’ve got to try infographics.” Honestly, it has taken me months to get the idea. But I think I’m finally realizing it: Today’s 20-something loves to see the entire “big idea” in one power-packed graphic. “Infographics” do exactly that. I work most directly with a small team of individuals who, among other things, tries to cast a vision of where we can go next. We try to invent the idea — then we begin promoting it. So I challenged one of our team members to take her pick of a half dozen online infographics tools which my son had recommended. We looked at the benefits and challenges of each one and I recommended two or three, but in the end, I suggested Kelsey choose the one she liked best. She chose Piktochart.


It didn’t take long before she started producing these cool little illustrated charts that are, in effect, like an entire segment of a presentation all in one drawing. So whereas before, I would have felt compelled to develop 30 PowerPoint slides, now, I just hand out a single chart or maybe two at most. The audience benefits because now they have a drawing they can understand in one view — and they can take it with them on the go. What’s more, I can’t explain it, but it’s just cooler NOT to have to show a big presentation. It almost seems like the understatement is valued in and of itself. And, as much as I regret to admit it, the audience seems to love the idea that my presentation has gone from a 30-minute PowerPoint down to a 10-minute explanation of the chart. The presentation happens in a FLASH compared to my previously long, drawn-out PowerPoints.

So try it for yourself. Look at Piktochart as a sample, but there are other options too. Nobody’s paying me to say this — but … we’re loving InfoGraphics. :-)

And a good illustration never becomes obsolete. :-)

What’s your take on InfoGraphics and which tool do you prefer to develop them? Just click “Comment” after the online web version of this item, available via the link below.