Becoming Communication Artists
When reading the unit title, what I remembered was “Artist”… and got scared! (as I am not an artist sadly enough). But then, reading the Big Idea we will be working on, I already felt better:
Delivering information and communicating ideas is an art.
As a teacher-librarian, I know about delivering information, so let’s have a look at how I could enrich my practices with some [communication] art!
The IRIS Award is a reading collaboration program between international Schools in Western Europe. In order to advertise the Iris Award Bookbowl, which is an accompanying quiz program, to our Middle Schoolers, a very eager colleague created a poster in Canva, a graphic design platform, used to create social media graphics, presentations, posters.
Note: the IRIS 2021 logo with the colorful stripes in the middle is a fixed image on a white background, and we can’t modify it.
When she showed the first draft, asking for feedback, I quickly realized that there was too much information, too many colors, no clear direction as the eyes don’t know where to land.
That was easy for me to assess, having just gone through the resources offered in our COETAIL course on visual aids.
Before we could edit it together, being determined to improve it, my colleague kept working on it, this time adding all the 15 books covers (see 1st image below). Then, realizing it was messy (!), she rearranged them around the frame, hoping for a cleaner finish (see 2nd image below).
No doubt: it is colorful and eye-catching, but maybe not for the good reasons.
We sometimes need to stop and think again at the objective: what is the MAIN message we want to convey?
David JP Phillips’ passions are the brain and presentation skills. He combines both in this engaging TEDx talk: How to avoid death by PowerPoint (loved the catchy title by the way!), in which he explains what to absolutely avoid and what matters for creating an effective presentation.
Some of the key points can be transferred in this case:
- One message per slide (here = on the poster)
- Size: eyes will be attracted by a big title
- Contrast: by adding one subject line at a time, and with more contrast
- Object: the magical number in a PP is 6 => add more slides if needed
Garr Reynolds, author and communication consultant on how to design & deliver powerful presentations, insists on the following points in What is good Presentation Design:
- Context matters: know your audience beforehand
- Simple but not simplistic: the best visuals are designed with an eye to simplicity yet based on content and context
- Visual makeover: the goal is to support a single message in a subtle and memorable way that fits into the theme, is appealing and attractive.
I loved some of the “Before” and “After” illustrated in his presentation:
With all that in mind, it was obvious what needed to happen to our poster which was going to be used both the old-fashioned way, on the wall in the school staircase, and in a Google Slides presentation during in-person lessons.
Here are the results: a simple and clear message on each version, as additional explanations will be delivered orally to the students.