Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Three Research & Presentation Tools for Your Small Nonprofit

Papers, presentations, and social communications content all require that you do research and turn your findings into something that's eye-catching and memorable. So here are three tools to help that along:
  • Google Power Search
  • Kippt
  • Sketchnotes
Google Power Search

By now, most everyone knows that Google is a search engine - a way of searching the internet for the information you want. But how do you get the maximum benefit from it? In the olden days, we combed through card catalogs just to find a range of books that might provide the data we were looking for. These days, finding what you want can be a lot quicker - if you know what you're searching for. This webpage with its demos and challenges is an instruction in how to ask the right questions. Or rather, how to enter the right search terms and become a Google search power user.

There are two curricula - one for learning to power search, and one for advanced power search techniques. I took the advanced power search class and my tip? Start with a very general search and gradually narrow it down. If you start with a very specific search, you may - oddly - miss what you're looking for.


Our content is seldom the result of one person's effort, even if only one person is responsible for bringing everything together in a paper, a presentation, or an article. With the growth of mobile applications, it can be harder than ever to keep track of everything involved in a project, which is where Kippt comes in. To paraphrase Kippt's press page, Kippt is for:
  • Collecting design inspiration
  • Keeping track of Resources
  • Researching new subjects
  • Building a library (for example, founder stories)
  • Becoming better and writing and storytelling
And probably for a lot of other things that require collecting information. It's new, and right now it's not completely stable (when I tried to log in with my Twitter account, I got a page of code). It's also oriented towards designers and code developers, but that doesn't mean it can't prove useful to you. At this point it's free, but looks like there will eventually be tiered pricing, with a Pro account starting at $25 a year. Here's their demo:


Also called 'graphic recording', sketchnotes are a way of using drawings to capture important information and present it in a way that is more visually interesting that a set of typed up notes. When notes are captured in a graphic way, they can become a picture or slide show or even an animation that can be easily shared on social sites. And if you're really lucky, it can go viral and bring new eyes to your blog, FB page, or website.

As Rob Cottingham points out on the Social Signal Blog, graphic recordings of speeches have been used by workshop facilitators for years, and some companies expend serious effort to capture discussions in a graphic format. But if you aren't a graphic artist, that should not deter you. What's important is that the information you want to share gets highlighted in a visual way - even a doodle can help with that. As Cottingham puts it:
And those sketches don't require any special artistic training or cartooning skill. Books like The Sketchnote Handbook and The Back of the Napkin set out simple techniques you (or someone in your organization) can use to illustrate a message with clarity and power, even if you haven't dared to doodle since grade school. And the Sketchnote Army website offers inspiration on demand, with tons of examples to learn from.

Are you a Google power searcher? Have you used a tool like Kippt or employed sketches or doodles to help get your message across? What works for you and what doesn't? Drop a comment and let me know.

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