I write a lot of large-ish reports for clients to capture the work I do for them. And I work hard to make them interesting, but at the end of it all, there's still A LOT of reading to do. And the clients are already swamped. Panic ... what if they never glean the amazing insights???
Solution: In the last few years, I've been trying to condense more and more of the insights into compelling graphics that condense and distill the key ideas into something memorable.
I was truly delighted to find a fellow traveller in this regard, Barbara Egel, a quallie based in Illinois. I attended a really great conference presentation with Barbara about a year ago, and she has recently written an excellent article on the same topic -- what she calls "the one page debrief."
Here's the link to the article: Meanings, Metaphors and Maps, the Power of the Visual Summary.
The challenge with this kind of thing is that you need a really great metaphor to link together your ideas. For example, I'm into a report right now where I'm using an iceberg as a metaphor.
I've used hills and valleys. I've created giant pipeline diagrams with whirring things at their centre. When unable to find a fabulous metaphor, I've used simple timelines or arrows between bits of stock art.
Finding a good graphics tool is of course tremendously helpful. I often use SmartDraw, which is not perfect, but it does simplify the process. You can do a lot with PowerPoint, but my advice is to stay away from the canned diagrams and figure out your own thing with boxes and arrows. Stock art can be helpful, too.
But I kneel at the feet of the graphic brilliance you can find here, the
50 most stunning examples of data visualization and infographics
A few of these are incredible, either for the information (like #22 about PETA), or for the graphic brilliance (like #6, the human subway map), or the great metaphor (#32, The Periodic Table of typefaces)
Kulula Airlines (#9) takes infogrpahics to the outsides of their planes. Makes me wonder what other businesses could do with murals, for example.
Need an edge in a competitive job market? You could try showing your stuff as an infographic, which is, let's face it, a lot more fun than reading a conventional resume (#13).