3 Tips for Visually Presenting Technical Information
By Tim Moran, Client Alchemist
When it comes to visual storytelling, there’s a careful balance required between the most important information and the visuals that will make an impact on the reader. Having managed multiple projects like this, videos, in particular, I’m quite familiar with the tension between the technical experts and the artists. It can be both exciting and frustrating, but it’s necessary work. Not only that, but it’s work that more and more communicators are confronting as communications become more sophisticated at an increasing number of water utilities. We at Rogue Water have three tips to guide you through this important process.
1. It’s All About the Audience
The key to striking the right balance between the information necessary and visual impact is to clearly define your target audience and speak to their level of knowledge or understanding of the subject. Is your audience already highly educated on the topic you’re presenting? Then by all means include more technical details. However, you’re more likely trying to reach a broad segment of people with varying educational backgrounds and levels of understanding of those more technical aspects. In that case, increasing the visual impact and presenting the details in a more conversational, easy-to-grasp way is paramount.
During the development of a video about fats, oil, and grease, your well-defined audience can come to your aid when technical experts are advocating for change in the visuals to match minor technical details at the expense of storytelling. That’s the time to speak up in favor of the visuals with something like… “Our audience is [fill in the blank]. What you are talking about is a minor detail our audience wouldn’t understand and it takes away from the impact we would have with these original visuals.”
2. Trust Your Visual Artist
Telling a story visually is what they do best. You hired them to do just that, so trust their experience and expertise. It’s that simple.
Granted, it may not seem that simple for some folks, especially the technically inclined. Technical experts are accustomed to reading densely packed documents and may not appreciate the effect of white space on readability. While their understanding of visual hierarchy may be limited to Microsoft Word’s header sizes, our visual artists have studied and trained in how best to compose documents and assemble videos, to add rich narrative to the information being presented. Rely on their expertise the same way you would rely on an engineer’s expertise for pipe and pump sizes.
3. If You’re the Pro Communicator, Trust Your Instincts
As the go-between for the visual artist and the engineers, like me, remember that you have expertise in deftly navigating both sides. You’re the fulcrum at the center of the seesaw, working toward balance between your visual artist and the technical experts and information. Trust both ends of the seesaw, but realize that you help provide that balance. You’re needed to ensure that neither misses critical details.
Visual storytelling in the water sector is all about balance. To present technical information in a visually impactful way, clearly define your audience, lean on your visual artist’s expertise, and trust your own skill set when navigating a challenging project. Show ’em how it’s done.