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It is hard for the human brain to conceptualize huge numbers. It is simply out of reach. If you present huge numbers to an audience, you have to keep that fact in mind.

As a speaker, we need to translate those numbers into something more concrete, understandable, digestible.

Today, I came across this illustration of the size of the Internet. It gives the answer for the question: How big is the Internet? It is named: If you printed the Internet. It is a good example of huge numbers translation.





Those illustrations are effective because they translate the numbers in something we know. Minutes, days, years.

Sometimes, the numbers are still too big after being transposed. We need a second transposition.  3 800 years doesn’t mean anything to me. It is too big.  Imagining Ancient Babylonians with inkjet printer is more effective. That comparison is talking to me.

While presenting data in a document or, while speaking, we must translate it to be reachable. We have to put it at audience level.

Best, adapt the example to your audience. If you’re talking to car dealers, tell them: If you printed the Internet, you will have enough paper to fill the trunk of 12 000 cars (I am guessing). How big is 12 000 cars? Bumper to bumper, it is a 66 km long file. THAT means something to car dealers.  (Adapting your speech to an audience – blog post: Put your audience glasses)

In your next speech, make your number digestible and adapt your example to your audience.

Other illustrations in the complete post of: If You Printed The Internet …


Share with me: What good adaptation of huge numbers have you done lately?


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Posted by Denis François Gravel

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Source: @DesignerDepot


Presenting Data can be boring for the audience.

I often see speakers shows rows and rows of plain number. Zzzzzz! I can hardly stay concentrated on the presentation.

To help our audience stay focus and understand the data and we better use data visualization.

I already discuss about charts in “To boldly go beyond pie chart”. Today, I want to share some examples of creative data Visualization.


  • How Different Groups Spend Their Day – The New York Times

It is an innovative display of data and it is fun the play with the different category. Click on the link and try it

Creative chart from NYTimes

Thanks to @presentationzen for inspiring me this post with his tweet about the NYTimes.


  • Dozens of Data Visualization examples | Smashing Magazine

For dozens of cool examples of data visualization to inspire you, visit this post by Smashing Magazine: Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Here a few examples:

Data 1 Data 2

Data 7 Data 8


Share with me: How do you visualize the data for your audience? Are you creative?


Posted by Denis François Gravel

Related post: To boldly go beyond pie chart.


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Quebec City Summer Festival gave me 15 seconds of fame* this week.

The summer festival innovates this year by using a 2.0 strategy. They use Twitter to keep in touch with the festivalgoers. You can follow them here: @InfoFestiBell

They tweet about upcoming events of the day and they tweet live during shows. Their tweets are seductive and reading them makes you want to be there.

They also display messages from Twitters on a big screen over the stage and on different kiosks.

Festival Screen

Picture credit: @InfoFestiBell on

Using Twitter and showing interaction with the festivalgoers on a screen over the stage is innovative. Presentability is also the way you communicate with your customers.

After a small Google search, I have found no mention about this (except on the festival Web site). Strange; this kind of innovation usually spread quickly across technology news sites or blogs.

It is a modern way of interacting with the crowd. It helps them wait for the show and it even offers some festivalgoers 15 seconds of fame when their tweets are displayed on the screen.

That’s what happened to me.

I asked @InfoFestiBell if they have a picture of their screen with a real Tweet on it instead of their welcome message.

After a few minutes. I received a message saying: The picture is not perfect because of the sunset but – who can we see on the screen? With a link to this picture. Click on the picture to see it full size.

Festival Screen with my Tweet

Picture credit: @InfoFestiBell on

Unfortunately, it is difficult to distinguish what is on the screen. But @InfoFestiBell confirmed that it was my picture and my original tweet. In front of 50 000 people! That is sooooo cool!


Of course, there is some filtering. When you have a big crowd, music ,alcohol and show off facility, you can be sure that you will see the best of what mankind is capable.

Some would probably argue that Twitter is not mainstream. The Festival also linked the screen to SMS (text via cell phone).

Other would say that Twitter has a vocabulary that is not accessible to everybody. That is true. So what? The Festival did not shut down the traditional canals of communication. They just add one to extend their reach.

Test: If you do not understand the following joke, it confirm that Twitter has its own vocabulary and that you should stay with the others canals Twitter Funnybirdnoises


Conclusion 1: The Quebec City Summer Festival made another step forward in technology integration to better reach their customers. They have always been innovators and they pursue in that direction.

Conclusion 2: As a wannabe baseman who’s dreaming of playing on a big stage with big amps, this is the closest I have been to a stage.

Thanks to @InfoFestiBell

*15 seconds of fame, inspired by Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame

Share with me: How do you innovate to reach your customers?

UPDATE: Guy Couture (@gcouture) put a video online of his 15 seconds of fame. His first Tweet in front of 60 000 festivalgoers.

UPDATE 2: Disclosure: after DM (direct messaging) with @InfoFestiBell, I learned that the twittering is done by the technological partner Bell Canada (the biggest telecommunication company in Canada) under the guidance of the Festival. Coincidence, I have a professional link with Bell Canada. However, I did not know that Bell was involved and I still think that the Festival is doing a great job with Twitter to reach the festivalgoers. It changes nothing to my post.

P.S. Congratulations to Bell Canada for their excellent job with the @InfoFestiBell Twitter account.

UPDATE 3: Guy Couture (@gcouture) added another video online;  the tweet of @nicolasroberge, an active tweeter of Quebec City, displayed on screen. Link to Youtube

Posted by Denis François Gravel

Two month ago. Between 9 and 10 in the morning, a big explosion surprise me while I was working at my home office. It was certainly huge because it was far, and still, the vibrations shake my house. What happened? I didn’t know. I was curious and search the Internet, but found nothing.

At 5 o’clock news, I had the explanation. Several miles away, a company was using dynamite to remove the rock. Something went wrong, the explosion was to big and some rocks flew in the air, damaging surrounding houses.

LCN Report (Video) Rock falled near propan tank Credits: left) LCN – right) Le Soleil, Erick Labbé

Story: Dynami-Tech encore dans l’embarras – Le Soleil (french)
Video: Pluie de roches: les détails avec Sébastien Dubois – LCN Video (french)

I had to wait all day to discover what happened and wait till the next day for complete coverage in the newspaper. In this era of blog, Twitter, citizen journalism or microjournalism, we should have faster information. We can do better than that.Twiter Plane Hudson

Proof: when the US Airways flight 1549 crashed in New York’s Hudson river Twitter breaks the news minutes after the event.

Janis Krums was on a ferry that rescued people. He used his iPhone to take a picture of the plane and upload it on twitpic. Then, he send the link with is now famous tweet: “There’s a plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy”.

twitpic - Hudson Plane

Within minutes the story spread everywhere…with a picture. That’s the kind of speed we are expecting now.

The Hudson River crash demonstrate that it is possible to have fast coverage of events with today’s technologies.

However, for that fast coverage to be useful, we need to define how to use the technology to help people find the relevant information when they want it.

I am not interested in a building fire in Tokyo, but I will be interested in a building fire, a few kilometers from my house (which is in Quebec City, Canada). That’s relevant information for me.

Google News, Twitter or other tools are good. They permit us to spread information or to search for specific information.

However how can We be inform of an event that we are not aware of? We have to wait that someone we are following retweet the information or that it makes the news headline. Probably that we will miss it anyway because it will be buried in the flow of information or in a torrent of tweets .

I suggest that we uses the power of Twitter and hashtags to identify local news.

Let’s create specific hashtags for local news. Hashtags beginning with #news and the name of the city or an acronym. Here are some examples:

  • #newsqc: Local news for Quebec City.
  • #newsmtl: Local news for Montreal City.
  • #newsla: Local news for Los Angeles.
  • #newsno: Local news for New Orleans.
  • Etc.

UPDATE: some readers suggest enhancements:

  1. Airport Code: We can use airport code instead of city name. Ex.: Quebec city would be #newsYQB. I think it is not user friendly. And it works only for city that have an airport (many small cities don’t).
  2. Hierarchical approach: We can define a hierarchical approach. Country, provinces, city. For Montreal City it goes like (Canada, Quebec province, Montreal city).
  3. What I think: I like the hierarchical approach. I am just wondering if it is using too much characters, since we are limited to 140 in Twitter.
  4. Your opinions: What do you think of the suggestions?

For those of you that already use Twitter, you know how to search for a specific hashtag or how to add a column to your favorite Twitter desktop software.

If someone ad tweeted: “ OMG! Some dynamite work went bad in Boischatel. Rock flew through the air. #newsqc “. I would have known what happened.

Some could argue that their is already equivalent hasthags: #news and #qc. They are not equivalent. They are used to identify information that deserve bigger coverage than the local residents. We can continue to use those hasthags for news that will interest people living in other city or country.

With local hashtags, it will be easier to find information about local events. It wills also help the traditional media do their job. They can’t be everywhere all the time. Citizen cans.

As explained by Steve Outing in his post: When Twitter beats local news outlets 

Something happens locally, like, say, a fire; there’s a lot of smoke in the distance, and I want to know what’s going on. But I visit my local newspaper’s website, and there’s nothing. Ditto for other local news outlets’ websites. Eventually (but not always), a reporter will get around to writing up something and it’ll be posted online.

It’s especially vexing when there’s never any report. Maybe the fire is not big enough to warrant coverage by the newspaper. But I’m still curious what happened. Where do I turn?

Now we have the solution: Twitter.

My point is not to start a debate over citizen journalism or microjournalism. My point is: We can be more effective. We can collaborate. We can use Twitter and hashtag to address some aspects of citizen journalism and satisfy the need for local news.

I read an interesting comment following this article: Citizen photo of Hudson River plane crash shows Web’s reporting power »

  • many of the most incredible news photos happen to be captured by amateurs that were at the right place at the right time – Posted by: mark

That’s right. Let exploit that fact.

If you like the local news hashtags suggestion and think it worth using it? Spread the idea in your blog and on Twitter: “How to use Twitter for local news – @PRESENTability suggest #newsmycityname for local event –

More on Twitter and Citizen journalism


Saw on In case of fire, do not use Twitter.


Read the real story behind this image on


In case of fire:

  1. Get out of the building.
  2. Call 911
  3. Tweet the event using your local news hashtag #newsmycity


You like the local news hashtags suggestion? Spread the idea in your blog and on Twitter: “How to use Twitter for local news – @PRESENTability suggest #newsmycityname for local event –

Share with me: What do you think of using specific hastags for local events?


Posted by Denis François Gravel

If you use PowerPoint or Keynotes or another software while you are presenting, you can choose between different styles of design.

  • Assertion-evidence slidePresentation Zen style developed by Garr Reynolds (via
  • Classic PresentationZen 
  • Lessig Method
  • Duarte Design Diagrams
  • Ethos3 story-telling style
  • Comic style
  • Pecha Kucha
  • Kawasaki Method (aka the 10/20/30 Rule)
  • Takashi Method
  • Beyond Bullet Points Method
  • The boring Bullet Point. That is the most popular and less effective method.

For description of each method, you can read two excellent blog posts

  1. PowerPoint Design Methods by Presentation Advisors

  2. The Top 7 PowerPoint slide designs by Olivia Mitchell

Also, I wrote a post on the presenter responsibility vs. the design of the slides. Are you responsible for the horrible slides?

Share with me: Witch method work best for you?


Posted by Denis François Gravel

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