Search This Blog

Monday, November 21, 2016

Will Rogers: American Humorist (a story about a flyer)

Recently a flyer was created to announce that I would be speaking on Will Rogers, the American humorist, for an older group of people who enjoy the good food at the place where they meet once a
month and know who Will Rogers is--and not necessarily who I am.

Rogers is a great subject, rich in humor and acerbic wisdom that holds true today (live your life so that you are unafraid to give the family parrot to the town gossip).   He is the most important aspect of the presentation and second to him is the audience, who has had to listen to a great number of talks in their lives and should be treated with great care and consideration. Exquisite care.  Respectful consideration.  You cannot underestimate the amount of time spent in consideration of a group of listeners and readers when it comes to creating a document that acts as a matchmaker:  it introduces two different entities to each other.  In the case of the flyer for my talk, Rogers and the audience are the two parties who need to be introduced to one another.

I am the less important part of the story told in the flyer.  But if you must tell my story to introduce Rogers' story to the audience use a picture that evokes story and interest—not a head shot or a selfie.  Figure out the part of your personality as a speaker that will most appeal to an audience and choose a picture of you to appeal to them and signal: I’m this kind of person.

People are aware that images matter, but they don’t always know how to help you with these images. 

“Are you going to dress up as Will Rogers?” a friend asked me, who had heard about the talk and likes to dress up when she gives a presentation. 

“No,” I replied, keeping the reasons to myself.   

When giving a speech, I am not acting, so I do not need a costume. 

Like a person who is not acting while giving a speech and does not need a costume, so a flyer that is telling a story of an event does not need a get-up or decorations to make it a powerful matchmaking document.

 It does require thought from the creator.  And the first thought is that the template that is chosen should not dictate the lowest possible denominator of content chosen to highlight about the event.

Each presentation should be considered in terms of which part of it is most important, less important, least important.  Once that hierarchy of significance is confirmed, choose the content that fits the template.

For the Will Rogers presentation, a picture of that lassoing cowboy should have been used in that premiere spot rather than the easily-grabbed picture of me from the church directory that is four years old and not only not flattering (lighting is bad, angle of my head is strained to help the photographer not add a garish light to my eye glass lenses) there is no story.  It is just an image of a woman from the church directory.  Because I am not a famous person there is no immediate connotative value either.  It is just an innocuous picture chosen for the flyer because it was easy to find and use.  That should never be the reason you choose artwork for your fly, especially if the artwork dominates the flyer.


The content of the photo caption and the headline for the flyer:  Will Rogers, American Humorist and Political Satirist is almost enough.  Add the date, the time and the name of the speaker.

The next time it is your job to create a flyer for an event, take the time to think about the three decisions that need to be made before you create a flyer:

  1. What’s the most important part of the event:  the subject of the event or the person talking or presenting?
  2. Who is the audience and what about that event will matter the most to them?
  3. What is the least important part of this event?  Add whatever image or piece of information that enhances that needed emphasis, like previously published books or articles.

Then, use a font and type size that is readable and almost never written in reverse print—any kind of white letters on any kind of dense, solid color or black.  Dark letters on a light or white background are more readable than white lettering on a dark background.

Stay with those three (okay, four) considerations and your flyer will draw more people to your event because it will meet the needs and interest of the audience before it tries to communicate any other message.

Daphne Simpkins offers a speech on Will Rogers through the Alabama Humanities Foundation speakers bureau.  Her latest book is Christmas in Fountain City

No comments:

Post a Comment