9 quick ways to avoid making eye charts (unless you’re an eye doctor).

Eye-chart

Never in the history of humankind have there been so many ways to communicate.

Yet we rely heavily on emails and good ole fashion handouts on 8.5 x 11.

 

In that case, here are a few tips to make your communication more visually palatable.

 

Good design will help your message get read more often.

Or maybe for the first time.

 

Your PDF handout shouldn’t look like an eye chart – challenging to read and somewhat annoying.

 

CONSIDER THE AUDIENCE.

If your textual craftsmanship is going to your colleagues – write like you’d speak.

Be casual.

Be direct.

Have a sense of humor.

 

In short – be normal.

 

If it’s going to an Executive – keep it to one page or include a Summary.

Feel free to use the HBR method of the “Idea in Brief.”

Screen shot 2013-07-30 at 9.42.52 PM

 

BE SMART WITH YOUR FONT. 

Don’t use Comic Sans.

Ever.

 

And get off Times New Roman… it’s lame.

 

Try a few different fonts to see how they present your thoughts.

My graphic designer Jason Hines turned me onto Gotham & that’s all we use at Red Angle.

gotham-variants

 

Visit these 2 sites and download some fonts that catch your attention.

http://www.dafont.com/

http://www.fontsquirrel.com/

 

That’s the goal here – capturing attention.

Subtle differentiation is a good thing.

 

USE SHORT SENTENCES.

You get the idea.

Run-on sentences are distracting.

Use short sentences.

 

USE BOLDED PARAGRAPH “HEADLINES.”

Marketing Guru Mitch Joel does this really well in his blog and in his books.

Headlines help your reader quickly identify the main points.

And headlines help you focus on the primary elements of your pitch.

Screen shot 2013-07-30 at 9.53.32 PM

 

USE SHORT PARAGRAPHS.

Establish a maximum word count for each paragraph.

Start with 75.

 

USE PICTURES.

They are valuable in any language. Use images with short captions. If arrows may help, use them to identify important points. Make the message simple.

For example, to highlight available fonts at your disposal other than Times New Roman, I’d use this:

periodic-typefaces

 

USE PLENTY OF “WHITE SPACE.”

Densely packed text on a single page is visually intimidating. “White Space” – or the space where the text isn’t – helps create a more friendly reading environment.

 

Think of your boss…

Does she have much patience for things that needlessly challenge her?

Right.

 

So make your handout look like light reading….

Even if Infinite Jest wasn’t a million pages long, the lack of white space on the pages is intimidating.

Don’t do this.

page-389

 

CONSIDER THE BEST MEDIUM… AND THE EASIEST WAY TO SHARE.

Depending on the importance of the new information and the delivery method (email, handout, live training, etc), a different medium may be more appropriate. Maybe Power Point is the best platform… even if you don’t plan to present.

Maybe a quick video on your iPhone is more persuasive?

Consider what will happen to your pitch after it leaves your desk.

 

Will others want to share it?

Make it easy for them to do so.

Encourage them to do so.

 

FINALLY… CONSIDER THESE STATS ON READING

Screen shot 2013-07-30 at 10.12.30 PM

 

Kinda staggering.

For the few humans that may be inclined to do so, make sure your content is easy to read… and worth reading.

 

 

Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish (and a bit of Polish…) language gap in the construction industry. 

If you think this post will help your colleagues, please share it!

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