Guidance Communications: Archives

Here are links going back several years to presentations we've made, papers we've published and other stuff.

(Except where otherwise noted, all contents are Copyright Guidance Communications, Inc. Please contact us if you want to reprint something.)

Show Me and I Remember - Communicating Your Ideas with Pictures

Communication is more memorable if you use pictures as well as words. Neuroscience and numerous research studies support this assertion. But not everyone is an artist (or has one on staff).

In this session, we explore a practical framework anyone can use to visualize business ideas and present them as simple pictures. We practice drawing; and we discuss ways to transform simple drawings into graphics suitable for formal presentation.

Get the PowerPoint (PDF format) with learning resources here.

Using PowerPoint as a Graphics Tool

Everyone knows PowerPoint as a tool for building presentations. But as we show in this demo, it is also a great tool for creating graphics for business documents and e-learning projects. With just a little practice, you can draw effective diagrams and illustrations, add clipart or stock photos, apply sophisticated effects, and then export your graphics for multiple uses.

Get the PowerPoint with notes and resources here.

Better Training Through Pictures

People learn better from words and pictures than from words alone. Neuroscience and numerous research studies support this assertion. Yet too often, training presentations and e-learning miss opportunities to use pictures, or use them ineffectively.

In this presentation, we cite evidence from experts such as Ruth Colvin Clark (Graphics for Learning), Richard E. Mayer (Multimedia Learning), and others. With their help, we provide answers to these questions:

  • Why should I use pictures for learning?
  • What kinds of pictures work best for different content types?
  • How can I use pictures effectively with other media?
  • Where can I obtain pictures to use?

Get the handout here.

Become a better visual communicator!

Guidance presents Can you draw me a picture? Communicating ideas with diagrams.

Research shows that presentations and learning materials are more effective and memorable if they use visuals. But to communicate optimally, you sometimes need to move beyond clip art and stock photos to visuals that are specific to the content. Even if you have no graphics training, you can learn to do this with diagrams.

Diagrams are simple pictures created using lines, shapes, words and (optionally) clip art. We will present a simplified taxonomy of diagram types and heuristics for choosing the type to use in different situations. We will then teach (and practice) a process to design, define, and refine your diagrams.

This session draws on the work of experts in related fields, including Dan Roam (Back of the Napkin), Nancy Duarte (slide:ology), Ruth Colvin Clark (Graphics for Learning) and Robin Williams (The Non-Designer's Design Book). We distill their observations into a practical approach that any professional can use to create great diagrams.

Get the session handout here.

Best Practices for Live Online Training

Guidance President Jack Massa spoke at the 2009 Society for Technical Communication Summit, May 6 in Atlanta. Jack led a discussion as part of the STC Instructional Design and Learning SIG Progressions. His topic was "Best Practices for Live Online Training."

In this session, Jack explored the pros and cons of live online training (or "synchronous e-learning") compared to other delivery methods. He then provided a series of best practices to make online sessions engaging, memorable, and effective.

Jack's research is also presented in this new Guidance white paper: "Thirteen Best Practices for Live Online Training".

Do-It-Yourself Usability

At the March, 2007 STC Atlanta Currents Conference, Guidance presented: The Usability Audit, a Do-It-Yourself Approach to Improving Usability.

In this session, Guidance President Jack Massa described an inspection methodology for improving the usability of applications and web sites.

The Usability Audit is a low-cost, low-resource technique that can be used by various team members—technical communicators, product managers, QA analysts or developers—and can be adapted to any phase of the development cycle. The session included a case study in which a Usability Audit was designed and conducted for a suite of web applications.

Read the Conference Paper     Get the Session Handout.