The following presentation will be three Hours long and involve almost 1,000 PowerPoint slides….



…oh and it’ll cost you $45.

Still interested?

It’s probably a good thing the session I went to this morning wasn’t billed that way – I don’t think they would have had nearly the crowd show up that they did.

This morning I went to a session at the MaRS Discovery District entitled “The Power of Pictonics: Using visualizations to tell your technology story” presented by Dave Gray, founder of XPLANE. I went initially as a fan of the XPLANE work expecting to hear Dave speak about XPLANE, their work, and go through examples of stuff they’d done for clients etc. – which I’m sure would have been interesting.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for life.

It turns out though that instead of being given fish, we were being taught how to fish – by a master fisherman.

Dave billed it as “Visual Thinking School – BETA” (this was the first time he’s ever done this session). So instead of just showing us how XPLANE does their “thing” he actually worked through a session with the goal of teaching us HOW to do (aspects of) the XPLANE “thing”.

What resulted was three hours of intensely entertaining and informative, discussion and absorption of how Dave Gray sees, and conveys the world. I could easily blog everyday for a month and probably still not be able to do any justice to the quantity (and quality) of the information that he shared with us. Looking at my desk now, I’ve got 10+ pages of notes, a stack of post-its, and a mess of index cards all from this one session.

I wasn’t kidding about the 1,000 Powerpoint slides either – although to Dave’s credit, this was a side effect of the increasingly popular presentation style of rapid-fire movement through slides with minimal content (an image, 1, 2 or 3 words etc.) Many slides were on screen for only the most split of seconds. Described, it sounds like a ridiculous concept but in person it was actually a surprisingly effective method of delivering content.

In the end I’m amazed at just how clear a lot of elements of the process are now. As someone who is largely self-taught in just about everything he does on a day to day basis it was great to backfill and better understand why it is I do what I do (learn the originating theories) and also expand my knowledge far more than I ever could have self-taught in the near future.

I look forward over the next little while of sharing the results of this session here as I apply it to our current illustrations and marketing pieces at Clay Tablet.

And yes, all this did only cost $45. Dave could easily add a “0” to the end of that price and it would still be a deal. I half expected to be stopped as I walked out with “Actually there was a typo on the site….”. I almost feel guilty at the ridiculous imbalance between cost and value (in favour of the participants).

If sales or illustration of processes are part of your role and you get the chance to see him do one of these sessions live – I highly recommend you do, at almost any cost. He alluded to a possible book on this very topic too so if that comes out be sure to pick it up.

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