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9.3 A Note on Visual Communication

    When the audience represents a diverse group of backgrounds and disciplines and particularly when the venue for communication is constrained by space or time, visual communication (graphs, charts, illustrations) often helps make the key points to the reader or audience. Supplementary to the age-old counsel that “a picture is worth a thousand words” is a telling passage found in one of the communications texts referenced at the beginning of this section:

  If displays of data are to be truthful and revealing, then the logic of the display design must reflect the logic of the analysis. Clear and precise seeing becomes as one with clear and precise thinking. (Tufte, 1997, p. 53)

Following this advice will help strengthen the link between sound analysis on the one hand and sound regulatory decisionmaking or a clear understanding of stakeholder impacts on the other. Not only should visual communication reflect the logic of the analysis, but the need to display results visually can also lead to a more logical analytic design.
 

Communicating
  Results

 9.0 Intro

 9.1 Communication
   Goals, the Audience,
   and Challenges

 9.2 Key Principles of
   Clear and Effective
   Communication

 9.3 A Note on Visual    Communication
    Again, the reader can turn to the texts referenced at the beginning of the chapter for a more thorough treatment of the use of visual aids in reports and presentations. An example here can elucidate some key points. Tables such as Table 9-2 are ideal for reports, when the reader can take some time to inspect the detail. However, in an oral presentation, the audience might be distracted in their attempt to interpret the tabular data. Charts can provide a solution to this problem. Figure 9-1 translates the net benefits data from Table 9-2 to bar charts, where the apparent dominance of Incentive Option A and Incentive Option B becomes immediately apparent. Of course, information is lost in the translation—in this case, the underlying levels of benefits and costs. In each case, the presenter should evaluate whether the benefits of the simpler graphic approach (ease and speed of interpretation) outweigh the costs (lost information) in terms of meeting the information needs of the audience.
  

Figure 9-1

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