Abe Lincoln, Visually Speaking

I just got back from the Lincoln Museum in Springfield Illinois, which is, without a doubt, the museum with the widest range of multimedia elements I have ever seen.

Whether you are 6 or 60, the exhibits are engrossing and visually compelling. One life-size exhibit showed a slave mother being torn away from her child and husband. While I looked at the wax figures, I also read the statistics on the number of slaves sold, year by year. Beside me a child was mesmerized by the raw drama that the figures embodied.

Artifacts, movies, wax figure displays, live actors, and holograms bring the dry details of history into vivid reality. Even if you’re a reader, as I am, you find yourself drawn to a video that starts just because it is colorful and kinetic. In contrast, the Lincoln Library next door has many important, framed documents, but none of the imagery or excitement.

What’s the take-away for business? What insight does this museum offer a presenter? That in speaking to a group, a presenter walks the fine line between information and entertainment. Strong images (instead of PowerPoint text slides) make information come alive and pull in the viewer. And it’s just plain entertaining as well.

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