As noted by Seth Godin in a recent blog post, "If you can’t persuade your peers and your boss, then your project is never going to have a chance … every memo, email and presentation you make is a marketing effort, and should be treated as such.”
As you set out to make the case for your next great project or idea, consider that effective communication involves not only the quality of your written content, but also the way that content is presented.
The following is a mini primer on the critical role of visual elements in effective communication:
Clean / Simple - “Marketing” your ideas to internal audiences (or any audience) is about making the case in a credible, concise, compelling way. Frequently review your draft with a critical editor’s eye toward unneeded information and extraneous visual clutter.
On-Brand - Make sure your written and visual content is aligned with the culture/brand of your audience. On-brand communications use a culturally appropriate voice coupled with relevant design elements like a designated family of fonts, color palate, graphic devices and/or layout configuration.
In addition to the narrative arc of a report or story, the structure created by visual elements like design (layout, color, fonts), images (photos, illustrations, icons) and format (document, slide deck, spreadsheet) has a HUGE impact on the way the information is experienced.
In an effective piece of communication, the organization of the narrative arc of the information is echoed and even enhanced by a parallel hierarchical visual structure. Some common typographical conventions include:
A snappy headline (larger font, maybe bold) engages the attention of your audience and sets up the broader context for information that will follow.
A simple, straightforward subhead (medium font, maybe bold) reins in the context, providing a more specific description of the topic and setting up the information to come.
Text blocks (smaller font, bold used for emphasis) carry the bulk of the information; ideas flow logically… defining, describing, revealing, enriching, embellishing, etc.
Bullet points (small/smallest font, bold used for emphasis) organize detail information into short bursts in a list format for quick and easy scanning.
The point is, leverage the power of visual elements to communicate your ideas quickly, clearly and effectively. More on this in future posts.