Tens of thousands of feet views and amount of detail

Posted on: October 21, 2009 by: Vesa Metsätähti in:

Yesterday there was once again request for 20,000 feet view of project. I hate working with power point so I had material on carefully designed InDesign → PDF (mix of text that can be read from the document at your own pace and headline styles that are viewable when you project the PDF on a wall).

20,000 feet version was mad by copy-pasting the biggest headlines in to 2 PowerPoint slides. The result was incomprehensible. Not (just) because the headlines would have been vague (as they were written also for stand alone viewing in meeting) or written for another context. They just did not deliver enough alone.

Still, we shared the 20,000 feet version. Feedback was in line with our initial experience. It all sounded good but what did it really mean?

20,000 feet view needs a lot of detail to be useful

I might pay too much attention to the VFH metaphor but if you want to describe an area the actual aerial photo is far more versatile choice than a strong abstraction.
Aerial view and strongly abstracted view of same area
In aerial photo you see much more detail and relationships. You have an idea of how close the houses come to the river on right, how many of them are there, you see trees at the road to the farmhouse etc.

How to implement this when you need to give handout of your presentation? This time the solution was simply to take the four text ridden pages and scale them to one. The wall-readble headlines were still (somewhat) readable and you could see how much of text, images and bullets illustrated a topic. So pretty much the headlines were the same, but now they were presented in at least some kind of landscape — context.
Example 20,000 feet view as overview of "slides"
Essentially, I think that giving 10,000 – 50,000 feet views of a subject or presentation should be feature of presentation software, not feature of presentation. PowerPoint at least has ability to show light table of slides, but it is rarely used, at least in presentation context. Perhaps because the slides are usually bastardization of presentation and prose.

In addition to these bit more information dense documents that can be projected on wall I also do slide ware. But thats always unprintable, background for speaking and conversating.


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