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Clarity in communications is not just about words

Category: Writing. Tags: ,

‘A picture speaks a thousand words’ goes the old adage. It may not literally speak a thousand words, but an image can go a long way to enhance your communications. I work with a number of organisations researching and writing white papers, and these tend to be technical in nature. While the right words are vitally important, having figures, tables and charts that are easy to understand are just as critical.

Using Excel to create your number-based charts is not a bad option, but do take time to adapt the basic defaults to ensure that you avoid clutter and ‘cut to the chase’ of the key take-away you want for your audience. Recently, I’ve found myself turning time and again to Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic’s excellent book, ‘Storytelling with data’, in my bid to improve my data visualisation. Cole is especially good at taking you step-by-step through the editing of charts to get you to the ideal visual. When you see the before and after case studies, you’ll immediately be won over to the clarity of her approach.

I know it can take a little time to move away from the quick fix defaults of Excel chart generation, but the benefits of a thoughtful, simplified approach will not only be impactful, they can even be beautiful. Combine such images with clear and concise writing and you’re well on your way to a winning formula.

An example of a chart I worked on for a client's recent infographic.

An example of a chart I worked on for a client’s recent infographic.

The job of a communicator is not only to select the right words to convey a message, but to create the right images that illustrate the messages in the best possible way.