Cave drawings – the powerpoint of our ancestors


Have we really advanced in our ability to communicate?

I was researching the history of story telling for my forthcoming book and of course most sources take us back to the days of the caveman. Storytelling captured on the cave walls of our ancestors. No surprise. But as I looked at the drawings, I had this strange thought: these were the powerpoint presentations of the caveman. And apparently the presentation (or briefing as it’s called in my current city) isn’t a very new thing. It’s still a visual representation of a message the author wants to share.

Actually, I think we could learn a great deal from the cave drawing when it comes to how to design our presentations. Think about the most recent presentation you experienced. Was the presenter as clear as the caveman?

  • No words, only images
  • The collection of images tell a story
  • The message is simple, clear, and brief.
  • The presentation fits the context of the situation.
  • The story expresses the emotion that connects to the audience.
  • The expected action you are to take is clear.

What really made me curious, however, was our interpretation of these drawings. In today’s world, the purely visual presentation isn’t of value without the actual storyteller – the human being telling the story. That person who uses these images to support their story is the star of the show, not the images (or in the caveman’s case, the paintings on the wall.)

Are we assuming we know the story without the author? Certainly we can use our evolved brains to make assumptions about what the storyteller was trying to convey, but unless we were actually their – it’s only an assumption.

All joking aside, we have evolved from the days of the caveman. However we still need to understand that the power of visual storytelling is in the harmony of both the visuals and the person conveying the message – even if we use pixels instead of cave walls.