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Don’t just have great ideas: Sell them

I think one of the things that I’ve really noticed over the years is that no matter what you’re trying to accomplish, communication is key. I think a lot of times when you get into a large public sector project or an internally facing private sector project, people forget that you still have to sell your ideas to make them successful. Even if it’s just an internal project that’s supposed to make things run more efficiently, more effectively, or if it’s a public sector project that has been mandated that you have to do, sometimes people take that as they don’t have to sell this idea it just needs to get done. It would be nice if that was the case but it’s just not. So I want to talk today a little bit about one of the mechanisms that I’ve found is really good at helping get buy-in and more importantly, it’s interesting enough that people will actually look at it and start to understand your project or your objectives a little bit better.

We’ve been using info graphics quite a bit as a way to tell a story about a project or whatever it is that we’re trying to accomplish. People find them interesting because it’s a combination of artistry and numerical backing that gets people wanting to take a look at it and understand things in a way that is different than just a written piece or something like that. I want to talk about kind of the three basic parts that we use most often to build an info graphic. We decide these things before we start putting ideas on paper and I’ll talk a little bit about the tools we use as well.

  1. The first thing we do is try to put the whole thing in context. If it’s a private sector project we may look at the market and gather market statistics. If it’s a public sector project and we’re looking at technology portfolios we may look at size and complexity, anything that sort of gives you the big pictures view of what you’re looking for or what you’re trying to accomplish.
  2. The second thing that we’ll do is highlight some of the details that are driving the action that we’re taking. The why of what we are trying to accomplish in this project. If you can sum that up statistically or with numbers, it becomes a lot easier for people to understand at a glance.
  3. Then finally in our third section is most of the time focused on three broad groupings. We’ll have our call to action, what are we trying to get you to do, and we try to give a taste of what the world might be like if we accomplished whatever that project is that we’re trying to do. We try to put some statistics or numeric value behind what that is.

Pretty simple formula and it creates things that are very powerful and very compelling. The problem that most of us, myself included, is that we are not very artistically inclined. So the question is how do you get that really rich compelling feel that you want to have? Well we’ve used Piktochart which is a very reasonable priced, available online on the web, tool for building these. They’ve got a bunch of themes that you can choose from and make it really easy for you. A lot of times we’ll go in, use their base theme, and we’ll drop our information in. If we need to we’ll build components in illustrator or other tools to upload into the info graphic to make it ours so to speak. From there it is simple to download it and push it out to the client. (Here is an example of an info graphic created using these tools.) That’s really all there is to it. So please take a look at Piktochart. It’s a cool spot to look at things and also take a look at Visual.ly, which is another great resource for info graphics.

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