Tag: lessons

Here’s a little story about a man called Sid.

Sid was a skilled machine operator, able to work as quickly as any man who could see. But, you see, the thing about Sid was that he had been blind since birth. Not just visually impaired, but totally blind.

In 1974, when Sid was in his fifties, he was offered a corneal graft which would, it was hoped, give him the gift of sight. With no little trepidation, he underwent the surgery. When he woke and opened his eyes, he was amazed to find that he could see quite clearly. It was completely overwhelming. The world had opened up to him, but he had no idea what any of it was or why it was there.

As his brain struggled to take everything in, he realised that he knew what time it was. He could recognise the clock on the wall AND work out what time it was showing, even though he had never seen a clock in his life. Psychologists intervened. They were intrigued. They probed and poked and questioned. What the heck was going on?

It turns out that, like the rest of us, Sid had learned to tell the time at school using clock faces and moveable hands. Unlike the rest of us, Sid had worked out what the position of the hands meant purely by using his sense of touch. His brain had then assembled the touch information into a picture that built up gradually in his visual cortex. When he woke after his surgery, this picture was so clear in his mind’s eye that he was able to recognise the clock and tell the time without even thinking about it.

The psychologists determined that the brain is programmed to construct images. It can turn the most abstract information into a useful picture. And it can do it even if we have never seen anything before.

Think about this next time you’re assembling a presentation.

Brains crave pictures. If you’re feeding your audience words on the screen, they will create their own images. And if they’re creating their own images, you lose control. If instead you keep text to a minimum and use bold imagery to support what you are saying, your audience’s brains can take the visual cues and store them alongside a general impression of what you are saying. This means that when it comes to them spreading your story inside their own organisation or networks they are more likely to accurately recreate what they have heard.

There’s a huge amount of psychology at work when you stand up in front of a crowd of people and start speaking. You should use it to your advantage.

image by moonlightbulb



The irkafirka story

It has been a year since I first challenged illustrator Nick Hilditch to illustrate a tweet every day. He took to the task like a Hercullean jack russel, and now has an extraordinary portfolio of doodles to show for it. But what about me? What have I learned from the process?

Here are the top three things:

People are terrific

Since the first irkafirka, the response has been amazing. We now have 2,300 followers on twitter and 170 ‘fans’ on FaceBook and we get amazing feedback every day. For our first birthday, we chose to give back some love and blithely set ourselves the unreachable target of raising £5,000 for Comic Relief. As expected, we fell well short of our goal, but £1,140 is still a fair chunk of change. And frankly, we’d have settled for £100.

You don’t need to be original to be amazing

We didn’t realise it at the time, but there have been others that have taken tweets as inspiration for illustration. As we’ve said here before, originality is nothing new. irkafirka certainly proves that. Our ‘competitors’ include Twaggies, @BeckIntl, Museum of Modern Tweets and TweetsIllustrated. Even telecoms giant Orange had a bash. But thanks to Nick’s gaudy style and the banter we generate on twitter, we consider ourselves to be twitter’s favourite colourers-in.

No money goes a long way

Business value was the furthest thing from our minds when we started irkafirka. To be honest, it has come no closer to our minds since. But, because of our relationship with Nokia and the sale of the occasional print, we have managed to turn a small profit from our endeavours. Of course, we have very few costs to cover, which helps. And thanks to AppMakr, Layar and Hopalla, even our adventures into mobile apps and augmented reality have been extremely cheap. But if you have a bright idea, irkafirka shows that it is possible to get it off the ground without spending a fortune.