Earlier this year, Visual Congruence was thrilled to collaborate with Shel Holtz, principal of Holtz Communication + Technology. Shel is an immensely popular speaker and leading voice on the application of technology in employee communication. I connected with Shel as he was preparing to roll out his New Model for Employee Communication to a large audience at the IABC World Conference on June 14.
Many prospective clients ask, "How do I work with you?" Here's the short answer: in most cases, I nail down details of what is needed through several short conversations and a review of any "raw material" (documents, slide decks, and the like). More often than not, I work with people I may never meet in person.
Shel graciously allowed me to share the back-and-forth that led to the visual enhancement and presentation of his new model (which itself evolved as we worked together). My hope is that this "as-it-happened" case study will help better answer the "How do I work with you?" question.
On March 17, Shel wrote: "Hey, Brian, I'm working on a presentation, with a new model for employee communications, that I'll present at the IABC World Conference in June. I'm NOT a visual design guy, though I've been trying to express what I'm talking about in a graphic. There are still some concepts I've been unable to incorporate and what I have, frankly, looks awful. Interested in helping me improve it?"
Of course, I was interested. Shel explained that he would be presenting for one hour, and that he'd likely need around 25 slides. He kicked things off by sending me his draft model:
The next day, I sent Shel a starting point for his reaction, and explained I would add text and subtle animations on subsequent slides. Here's what I sent:
Shel wrote back, "I like it! I'm still struggling to convey that everything is two-way in the model. Any thoughts on how to visualize that?" I soon came back with this:
Shel liked the refinements to the graphic, and agreed I could start playing around with builds and breakouts of that model, in slide form. The first rough draft looked like this:
Shel responded, "This looks great!" He added that he would have to be able to control the build so he could talk about each element. Soon thereafter, I sent him a more "finessed" version. These are just a few of the in-progress slides:
Shel responded by saying these were "fantastic," which was music to my ears. He then accepted my offer to provide a handout version of the new model.
A couple of weeks later, Shel sent me a number of additional slides he would be using in the presentation, with a request that I dress them up to be consistent with the slides related to the model.
Here are a few samples of the reworked slides I sent back to Shel:
A couple of weeks passed, and Shel added a few more slides to the deck, and asked that I "work my magic" on them. Here's what Shel sent:
And this is what I sent back:
On June 14, Shel rolled out his new model to a large and eager audience at the IABC World Conference.
The story ends there, right? Nope.
Two days later, Shel wrote, "I got some great feedback on the model itself that leads me to believe I need to add a fifth element to the ring around the model: Alignment. How big a deal would that be?" I got back to work, and came up with this:
A couple more days passed, and Shel wrote again: "So, a number of people have asked me, 'Where's measurement?' in the model. I had considered measurement as a model element; besides, I'm a measurement geek. Ultimately, I decided measurement is EVERYWHERE in the model. How might we add measurement in a way that shows it's everywhere? It wouldn't be a sixth ring, because you have to measure each segment of outer ring, too. Just pondering..."
This led to the next--and now final--iteration:
Below is a link to a quick video (YouTube) with a few samples of visuals, animations and transitions from Shel's presentation: