This talk by Mike Parkinson covers information about the “manual brain,” the “automatic brain,” and how to make an infographic.
The Manual Brain vs The Automatic Brain
The brain can be divided into “manual brain” which involves making a conscious effort and “automatic brain” which doesn’t. Surprisingly, we operate far more on autopilot than we would believe. You see, the “manual brain” doesn’t need to be active for a lot of what’s going. For example, we do not need to think about driving a car as hard as we did that first time we got behind the wheel. This is because we have committed this action to memory and now it’s simply something we can do by using our “automatic brain”.
Because of this automatization there are thousands of tasks that we can do effortlessly but there are downsides to this. Since our “automatic brain” is always on a quest for shortcuts it can sometimes jump to unwanted conclusions or associations. For example, making a flash decision that we don’t like someone because they look like a high school bully we were tormented by. This person might be completely different personality-wise but our brain, which is always looking for threats, will not give it the benefit of the doubt.
But how does any of this relate to infographics? Well, graphical information is easier for the automatic brain to pick up at a glance. So, if you want to get info out there as quick as possible infographics are the best way to go.
So, what makes an infographic?
An infographic is information represented through images or using images to present information. Now, it’s important to point out that this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t use any text. Text is actually important so our imagery isn’t confusing or vague. So, do not feel obligated to create text-free infographics. What you should dedicate some though to is: your goal, your concept and how you’re going to render it.
Goal: what is your learning objective? What do you want to happen after people are exposed to your infographic?
Concept: can be divided into 3 mayor parts:
- Audience: who is your target audience? It cannot be for everybody, it has to be targeted.
- How are you going to get to your audience? In general terms, people are motivated by pain, gain, or fear and you need to use this to create your message. The speaker encourages us to use gain rather than the other two because it is not negative. However, mountains of successful ad campaigns (think about how politicians exploit that fear motivator) show that all three are equally effective.
- Your message needs to go straight to the point. For example, if you are going to show a benefit make it clear what it is and how your audience can get it.
- Do not flood the audience with benefits. 3 is the right amount. Pile on the benefits and it will seem gratuitous.
- If you have proof, use it. Things like surveys, articles by reputable sources, sponsoring by experts in the subject, etc.
- Explain or prove: answer the “what” and “how” questions. What is the product and how does it work?
- Chunk: break up information into bite sized, manageable, key pieces.
- Assemble: build it up to make a story. Stories affect us emotionally and get the automatic brain’s attention.
- Visualize: to visualize something you can use one of two methods: literal method or the substitution method.
- Literal method: this is the case where you can use photographs to show what you are talking about.
- The substitution method: is used when something is complex or abstract. In this case, you can represent it by creating a visual metaphor, a simile, or an analogy.
Last Pro Tip
- Whenever possible choose to use vector graphics instead of raster graphics because vector images are smaller in size and can be made without any size without losing quality.
- Vector file types: svg, emf, wmf, ai, eps
- Raster file types: png, tif, jpg, gif