Conservation Entrepreneurship/Communication

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Edward Tufte has written 4 wonderful books on design and communication of information. The books themselves are works of art that exemplify Tufte's approach to integrating context, information and design. Like all good entrepreneurs, one of his major themes is basing your efforts on "the needs of your customers" (in this case, listeners or consumers of information).

Beautiful Evidence, Edward Tufte, 2006. Graphics Press LLC.
The chapter on The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within, pp 156-185, makes a powerful argument against this controversial tool. He synthesizes here what he has published elsewhere (look on – a damning indictment of the lack of rigorous thinking at NASA, as illustrated by the use of PowerPoint as a main communication tool in the crisis situation of the Columbia accident. He cites the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. Tufte's remedy is to replace PowerPoint presentations with "paper handouts showing words, numbers, data graphics, images together".

An interesting format of conference presentation, "Lightning Presentations" is presented here:

Cialdini, Robert B. 2001. Influence: Science and Practice. This book reviews a vast literature of social psychology to explain how "influence professionals" use our "mental shortcuts" against us -- and how we can tap into this knowledge to be more effective at influencing others. The key factors are: reciprocation, consistency, social proof, liking, authority and scarcity. Recipricocity is a basic norm of human culture, and giving something before asking for a return favor is very powerful. Example: Hare Krishna in an airport gives you a flower, then asks for a donation. People also have a strong desire to look and be consistent with their words and deeds. Thus, securing an initial commitment -- especially if it is active and public -- is a powerful way to obtain agreement with a later request. The basic tactic is to start with a small request to ensure later compliance due to consistency pressure; e.g. signing a petition and then being requested for a donation. Social proof is the principle that people's decisions are influenced by what other people believe or do. Powerful imitative effects have been found in purchase decisions, charity donations, etc. -- especially in situations of uncertainty and when leaders and followers are similar. People prefer to say yes and buy from individuals they like. Liking is influenced by physical attactiveness, similarity, and repeated contact (especially when the contact occurs under positive circumstances). An example is using a beautiful model next to an automobile; empirical data shows that consumers deny influence but are in fact influenced by such association -- the model makes the car more desirable. The principle of authority was documented by Stanley Milgram's experiments with test subjects applying electroshock (simulated) to someone posing as a test subject partner, attributed to the authority role of the experimental leader. Research shows that people increase deference in response to titles, clothing, and automobiles. Finally, people assign more value to opportunities when they are less available, as exemplified by "limited offer" and "deadline" tactics.