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Visual Thinking for Presentations - iversity

When planning and delivering presentations you can run into a lot of problems. How do I structure my presentation? How do I best get my point across? And how do I make my audience listen to me? Visual Thinking techniques can help you prepare your presentation, command your audience’s attention and really make your presentation stand out. 

Structure Your Thoughts

Creating a presentation can be an overwhelming task. Quite often you have to present a vast amount of information in a short amount of time. So when should you mention what and what can you leave out? This can easily get confusing, not only for you, but also for your audience. Visual Thinking techniques can help you find the most important information and structure it in a meaningful way. Using visuals to prepare your presentation will be easier and your audience will able to follow you better.

Become A Visual Storyteller

Even if your presentation is well thought out, your audience may have a hard time identifying with your topic. Here is where telling your story with images can make a massive difference. A good story with carefully chosen images will not only make your presentation more personal, but it will also catch your audience’s attention. Stories are structured in a way that creates suspense, leaving the audience hanging on to your every word. Just think of your favourite movie or TV show. Don’t you always want to know what happens next? Letting your visual presentation unfold while you are telling your story can have a really powerful impact.

Break Down Complexity

Complex concepts are always hard to convey. How many times have you sat through presentations n that have left you confused and unsatisfied? Visuals are a great way to break down complexity. While it may take a long time to explain something with words, sometimes all it takes is one good image to make it all clear. With Visual Thinking you can learn how to create images that speak for themselves and really bring your point across. So even the most complex concepts will be understood and remembered.

Spark Imagination In Others

Inspiring people with your presentation can seem like an unachievable goal. Often all we hope for is that our audience will listen to us and not feel bored or start checking their phones. What if you could not only command your audience’s attention, but also spark their imagination? Create a starting point for your audience’s interest? Images are perfect for igniting a creative thinking process in your audience and making them really care about what you are saying. Your audience will feel more engaged and you will inspire them to keep engaging with your presentation afterwards.

Make Your Presentation Unique

Are you sick of using artificially posed photos in your presentation? So is your audience. By creating your own images you can really make your presentation stand out. Just think: You don’t have to bore your audience by using pictures they’ve seen a thousand times in a thousand other presentations. You don’t have to waste time finding an image somewhere that resembles your idea. Because: You can just create it yourself. Using your own images will make your presentation truly unique and you will be able to bring your message across better than ever.

Are you curious to learn more about Visual Thinking? Explore our online course “Visual Thinking for Business” and discover how you can benefit from sketching and visual presentation techniques in the business setting. More interested in becoming a better public speaker? Then learn more in our online course “Presentation Skills for Business”. Want to combine the two? Then our Visual Thinking & Presentation Skills PRO Skills Bundle is the right choice for you. Enrol for both courses at a discount now!


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bigstock-Meteor-Crater-Arizona-86006993 SAM EDIT 2On the 14 December, our super awesome Geology and Mineralogy course –  “Myths and Facts About Rocks’ starts. Here in the iversity office, the excitement has been building as we discover just how interesting this area of study is. From the largest meteor impact in recorded history to the part rocks played in the world’s most peaceful revolution, let’s drill down deeper into the core of this subject.


The study of rocks (Geology, if you want to be scientific about it) might not seem like the kind of topic to inspire passion and interest amongst many people. After all, rocks are just grey stones, kicked about under our feet, aren’t they?

However, that’s simply not the case, whether you’re wandering around the concrete streets of Berlin, or hiking through the Himalayas, the rocks and minerals that make up the Earth have some absolutely fascinating stories to tell. Many of which wouldn’t be told if it wasn’t for the study of Geology (Rocks and stuff, if we’re going to be unscientific about it). With this in mind, we went out in search of three mysteries that have been unravelled thanks to an understanding of geology.

Story 1: The Tunguska event

It’s the 30th of June, 1908 and the eerie silence permeating a huge uninhabited stretch of Siberia is shattered by a huge explosion. So huge in fact that it flattens 2,000 sq. km of forest, knocking over an estimated 80 million trees and creates a shockwave that registers in Great Britain. Luckily (and pretty amazingly), no one is killed as the area is so sparsely populated.


The unnerving sight of hundreds of trees, flattened by the huge blast.

So, what could have happened here to cause such a huge amount of energy to be released?! The theory was put forward that this must have been a meteorite or comet impact, however first expeditions to the site found no clear crater. Without any of this evidence, it was down to the geologists and mineralogists to get to the bottom of the mystery. Using their knowledge of the types of rocks and chemicals that you would expect to find had a meteorite or comet hit the Earth, they set about trying to solve the mystery.

It wasn’t until the 1950s and 60s that the geologists and mineralogists could use chemical analysis to prove the meteorite theory. On investigation, they found deposits of microscopic silicate and magnetite in the soil, consistent with a meteorite event. As technology advanced, the investigations were able to further prove this theory by testing the trees and surrounding marshes for evidence. Finally in 2010, fragments of a ‘celestial body’ were found in the area, further proving the theory that a meteorite had fallen to earth in this spot. A truly amazing event that would have remained a mystery had it not been for geologists and scientists!

Story 2: Fake pieces of the Berlin Wall


It’s 1989 in Berlin, Germany and you are walking along a section of the newly fallen (politically at least) wall. All around you the sound of people chipping away at different sections of the wall rings out. People want the wall gone, but they also realise the historical significance of these small pieces of concrete. People from all walks of life come to the wall to chip off these pieces, even earning themselves the nickname ‘wall peckers’.

Berlin-Wall piece

Historical artefact or spray painted pebble?

Fast forward another 20 years, and you’re a tourist looking to take home your own piece of history from this tumultuous and exciting time. The souvenir shops are stocked with small grey chunks of rock but the city is rife with stories of fakes. Around Berlin there an open secret that a man named Volker Pawlowski (who bought over 30 sections of the wall after its collapse) spraypaints grey undesirable pieces himself to sell on at an increased profit.

So, how can you ever be sure that you’re holding a piece of history in your hand? With a bit of Geochemistry, of course! Tests have shown that the authentic wall fragments have a unique chemical makeup as they were all quarried from the same location in Rüdersdorf. This testing can prove with near certainty whether the small piece of rock in your hand has been sold by a street vendor looking to make a dishonest profit, or whether it played a key part in segregating an entire city for 28 years before being knocked down in a peaceful revolution.

Story 3: 6000 Year Old Jade Hand Axe

jade hand axe

The actual axe. Carefully crafted over 6000 years ago.

Jade is a mineral that has been held in high regard for thousands of years. In ancient China it was valued even more highly than gold. So when archaeologists found this amazing example of craftsmanship in Canterbury, England, they were at a loss to explain how it had ended up there. A place where no Jade existed, and at what was at that time, the edge of the world. 6000 years ago there weren’t the established trade routes needed to bring such an object halfway across the world. So where did this beautiful object come from?

Beijing Medal

Jade is prized so highly in China that medals awarded in the 2008 Summer Olympic games contained a ring of the precious mineral.

It took two dedicated archeologists Pierre and Anne-Marie Pétrequin 12 years of searching to unravel the origins of this particular stone axe. High up in the Italian Alps, they found what they were looking for. Huge blocks of Jadeite sitting isolated in the landscape, with ancient marks from where they had been quarried, still present. But how were the pair to prove once and for all that this smooth green axe had come from this place? Employing a geochemistry technique originally pioneered by astronomers it was possible to match the geological signature of the axe confidently to the Italian Alps. Amazingly, it was possible to go one further and match the axe not  just with the mountain, but with the exact boulder the axe had been taken from. An amazing discovery that allowed the archaeologists to be able to tell this period of history in an even more accurate and fascinating way.

If you have been inspired and intrigued by these stories of Geological discovery, then you should definitely come and check out our new course in association with Tomsk University “Myths and Facts About Rocks”. If you enrol soon, you can even take advantage of our 20% Early Bird discount on the certificate track. See you on the 14th of December.


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Jesus, our Scholartrip Winner!

Last year, iversity ran a Scholartrip competition to spread the word to the world about online learning. The Grand Prize was an all-expenses paid adventure for one lucky winner to anywhere in the world they wanted, with the added bonus of a brand new MacBook to truly be able to study anywhere.

We announced our winner a while back, but now the time has come for Jesus to embark on his scholartrip, learning and adventuring his way around the world! We caught up with him on the island of Crete to see how he was doing.

Hi Jesus, congratulations on winning the Scholartrip competition! How did you feel when you found out that you would be going on such an amazing trip?

It’s hard to describe the feeling! I really didn’t believe that I had won the scholartrip until my brand new MacBook arrived at my door. I still remember that I couldn’t sleep that night (literally, I DID NOT sleep that night!)

Could you tell us where you are traveling to on your Scholartrip?

So far, I have visited New York, Athens and Crete. My next stop is Santorini. I decided to go New York because it is my mother’s favourite city. So, I invited her for this part of the trip. I am now continuing alone meeting some friends almost in every destination.

Athen with ZoiI am actually writing this from the island of Crete! This place has all of my favourite things: mountains, ocean, sun, international environment and lot of beautiful and peaceful places.

What do you hope to learn whilst travelling, could you tell us about the MOOC you have decided to take?

I am taking the “Digital and Social Media Marketing” course. I love marketing and I am currently working in Digital Marketing for the Tourism industry, so this is a great course to further my career.


Me in Times Square, New York. A great place for some Marketing inspiration.

Right now, I am working in an international online company. I am the search engine-marketing specialist of the company. Thus, it is important for me to continue to specialise in the emerging area of marketing (digital marketing).

What has been the most memorable/amazing experience of your trip?

So far, the most memorable experience has been just being able to be alone. It’s the first time in my life where I go to a place where nobody is waiting for me, just the person who gives me the key for the apartment.

I have had the opportunity to do things I don’t normally do – such as watch the sunset, walk along the beach and talk to people who perhaps I will never see again. I will never forget this experience and how good it made me feel.

Do you have any tips for the other iversity students, how to stay motivated and keep learning?

The best advice I can give online learners is to find courses that are truly helpful for you, in terms of professional career or personal life. Another great motivator is to actually pay for the course! This way you will think twice or three times before you decide not to finish your studies.

What is your opinion about online learning and how do you see its future?

I love online learning. Online courses have helped me in several ways. I needed to upgrade my knowledge about statistics to be able to finish my master thesis, so I simply took a course and learned what I needed.
A great example of online learning that comes to mind is a friend who took an online course to learn how to cook in a healthy way for her children. With the above, you can realise that this kind of learning can have a positive impact in so many ways.

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Giving a great presentation can be a turning point in your career. Not everyone is born with this innate talent, but we have good news: you can learn presentation skills! Now, one of the best ways to learn is through mistakes. Luckily you don’t have to make them yourself. Here are 4 things you should avoid when presenting or speaking in public and what to do instead.

1. Just winging it

It’s normal to prepare a presentation in terms of the design, the content, the order of the presentation slides, but many people forget to practice. An essential part of presenting is not just what you show, but what you say. Do you know how you will explain each slide? Do you have good transitions? Have you prepared answers for all the possible questions? You need to avoid being at a loss for words and must ensure a smooth narration throughout. This means thoroughly preparing your script and practicing your presentation – don’t just wing it.

2. Not adapting to your audience

Pretty, young business woman giving a presentation in a conference/meeting setting (shallow DOF; color toned image)Communication is a two-way street. Not only are you telling something to your audience, you also need to respond and adjust to their expectations and perception as well as to what’s being fed back to you. Sometimes we get so obsessed with the content of the presentation that we forget about who our audience is. Is it your family? Your colleagues? Your bosses? Do some research about how much they already know about your topic and take it into account when preparing your presentation. Always understand who your audience is and adapt your content to them.

3. Not having a clear objective

Despite giving a memorable speech, you could fail at reaching your goal! So before you start preparing your presentation, ask yourself what you want to achieve: identify the main goal and plan every single aspect of your speech with that objective in mind. This will not only help you do what you’ve set out to do, it will enable you to maintain and create clarity, build-up and consistency.

4. Not analysing who you are for your audience

It is important to know your audience, but you also need to figure out how the audience knows you and how you want them to perceive you. Like number 2 above, you need to ask yourself who you are in the eyes of your audience. Are you well-known in your area, someone everybody is dying to see? Congrats! If not, be aware of your audience’s expectations and prejudices about yourself and your position, and work around them.

So now that you know the Don’ts, you are invited to learn the Do’s in our Presentation Skills for Business course, starting 9 November 2015. The course is divided into three parts: You will start with a journey into communicative style audit. Then you will take the next steps to preparing successful presentations. Finally, you will learn quick tips for the staging. Enrol now to become a master of presentation skills and public speaking!

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Images: Homuork; Bigstockphoto
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Social innovations are everywhere and largely influence our lives: they can change the rules in business, civil society and politics. With this approach we can design social practices that are more beneficial, sustainable or just. But what exactly are social innovations? To find out more about this fascinating topic, we spoke with MOOC instructor Nicholas Wenzel. His “Social Innovation” course is starting November 2nd. Mr. Wenzel has worked at the World Vision Center for Social Innovation at the European Business School (EBS). He is also co-founder of InternsGoPro, a social enterprise certifying the quality of internships in Europe.

Nicholas Wenzel - iversityMr. Wenzel, what is the most exciting thing about your field of study?

The concept of “Social Innovation” demonstrates a simple thing: the way we live, consume, work, or do business is something that we can change to the better. Everything could actually be quite different!

Why did you create this MOOC?

I hope that we, my co-instructors Christine Rimke, Dr. Susan Müller and I, can reach a lot of people and make them familiar with the different forms, aspects, and opportunities of social innovation. And of course I hope that some participants will eventually become social innovators themselves.

How can students apply their learnings?

In our MOOC we ask the students to think about challenges and problems they are interested in. They can then test first ideas that could eventually mitigate a given problem. Very often, you can test an idea with a small pilot and then see what works and what doesn’t work. If some students used our MOOC to run these tests and shared their experiences, that would be great! Then our course would have an actual impact on the world.

Can you sum up what students can expect from this course?􏰀

The “Social Innovation” MOOC is a combination of theory, expert interviews, examples, and tasks that encourage students to think differently and start acting.

Would you share one fun fact about you that your students wouldn’t expect?

I am in love with my hometown Rome and passionate about improv theatre.

Are you curious to learn more about social innovation? Enrol in our “Social Innovation” MOOC now! Explore the theory and practice behind this topic and start realising your own real-life projects.

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