The following article has been adapted from a chapter in the new book Special Edition Using Microsoft PowerPoint 2000, by Patrice-Ann Rutledge and Tom Mucciolo (Copyright 1999, Que Publishing).

We have met the visual creatures and they are us!

The next millennium can be dubbed the Visual Age and its effect will be massive. The Visual Age will bring us closer together as a global society because we will be able to see one another on a more frequent basis using technology, like a TV. Realizing that, here are my forecasts for the new millennium regarding the effect that a visual way of life will have on individuals and society.

How will people exist in the new Visual Age? Will they readily accept the inevitable or will they fight, tooth and nail, to avoid being part of the viewer/viewee phenomenon? Let’s classify each group by its current age in the year 2000 and see how each will migrate from Web site to Web sight.

The Naturals
Anyone under ten years of age probably already has the words visual creature stamped on the inside of his head. That age group will not have any problem adapting to an interactive and visual world. When they finally begin working for a living, I expect them to one day walk through a flea market, pick up a computer mouse, and ponder what its use might have been!

The Insiders
Those between 10 and 20 years old are still well-developed visual creatures. When they finally embark on their journey into the business world, using visual communications will be as simple as touching a keyboard.

The Movers and Shakers
People between 20 and 30 will be on the cusp of the changing technology. The good news is that this age group already knows the rule that to adapt is to succeed, and being in their high-spirited 20s, this crowd will lead the way to a host of major technology changes in the workplace.

The Outsiders
Those between 30 and 40 will accept the new world of visual communications, but they will resist direct participation mostly for vanity reasons. After all, knowing the camera adds ten pounds will not appeal to generation X at all. These are the people who cut their teeth on Internet chat rooms where remaining anonymous was the standard level of interaction. It is unlikely to believe this group will welcome a visual conversation while sitting in a bathrobe eating a Pop Tart.

The Renegades
People between 40 and 50, the tail end of the baby boomers, will mostly resist all forms of visual communication, some for vanity reasons and others because they will be fed up with the years of e-mail and voice-mail inundation. People in this age group are already growing tired of being accessible through every other form of communication and will see the visual process as a real intrusion of the only remaining personal space in their lives. Little do they know that by adapting to a more visual world, this age group holds the life experience and maturity to lead the up-and-coming companies of the future. Expect only those who adapt to the new technology to come out ahead and the rest to lag behind or fall by the wayside.

The Late Bloomers
Invariably, the over 50 age group will welcome visual communication with open arms because, as people age, they tend to be more honest about adopting new habits that reduce stress on the body. Visual interaction will allow for less travel and less wear and tear on the body. Remember that these people grew up on face-to-face communications and the visual technology will help simulate that experience more than a phone conversation or an e-mail ever could. The good news is they won’t have to travel to make the face-to-face interaction happen.

If You Can’t Stand the Heat...
So there you have it! The very young and the very old adapt and the middle groups have some big decisions to make. I believe that anyone between 30 and 50 years old in the year 2000 will truly have no choice but to adapt to the most current visual technology. If not, they will find themselves unable to adjust to the younger crowd sneaking up from behind and the older crowd looking back for support.

This doesn’t mean people will lose their jobs, but it does mean that by avoiding the changes in the workplace, some people will experience limited advancement. It’s hard to see just how rapidly things will advance, but the technology seems to change while you sleep! I’m 44, so I happen to be one of those who already realizes the world of visual communication is inevitable and I have been embracing the concept for several years. I expect to be changing as rapidly as the technology and only for my own sake!

Face the Facts
You also have to look at the social benefits of a more visual world. You will be seeing people of different cultures and backgrounds more visually and more frequently than ever before. There will be a greater acceptance of diverse audiences. You can expect a more visual world to be one that welcomes our visual differences.

I really think that when you see another person, any fears, inhibitions, prejudices, concerns, ignorance or other negative feelings can disappear faster. It’s when we can’t experience the whole person that we sometimes create false impressions. People living in urban centers have more opportunities where interaction among many cultures is the norm, but in a globally interactive society, no matter what the prejudices, you will still have to interact with different people on a daily basis. Whether you ride the bus or surf the net with different people every single day, you’ll just learn to get along. You won’t have any choice. I’m not saying that we’ll live in perfect harmony, but I suspect it will become easier to accept people whose lifestyles and backgrounds are much different than our own. If we can’t, then it’s our problem, not theirs.

Diversity University
A world of visual communicators will have more direct contact with more people, more frequently, resulting in a greater acceptance of diverse opinions. The good news is that a more visual world will be better for our children. After all, kids aren’t born with a natural fear or dislike of others. They can only learn it. A visual world will provide more evidence as to why those who look or think differently have so much in common. The point is that the more we see one another the more we understand one another. Visual interaction will bring us closer together, globally.

Picture Yourself on TV
From your own personal perspective, the Visual Age will change the way you communicate. The growth of visual communications will place you in view, mainly through the eyes of a camera. The more you adapt to the changing technology the better the chances of your success. But keep in mind that to prepare for the visual changes ahead, you will have to develop your current skills and become a more visual presenter. If you don’t have the basic skills required for the media, chances are you will appear less effective and your message will have less impact.

So, what are you waiting for? Get used to picturing yourself on TV and before you know it you’ll be staring straight into the camera lens saying:

I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille!

About Tom Mucciolo
Tom Mucciolo, president of MediaNet, is a recognized industry expert regarding visual communications and business presentations. He has served as a presentation skills consultant for major corporations since 1985, concentrating on the script, visuals and delivery associated with presentations, especially electronic events. High-profile communicators, including corporate leaders, politicians, media personalities, as well as those at any organizational level, demand his coaching expertise.

For more information and a free tip-of-the-week, visit MediaNet’s Web site at www.medianet-ny.com.

Copyright 1999 by MediaNet, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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