In a Digital Age, New Media Literacy Will Enliven Presentations
By James M. Fraleigh
Unlike their predecessors, workers born since 1982—the Millennial generation—don’t rely solely on print as the ideal channel to produce and absorb information. They are digital natives, at home in an on-screen world of social media and video blogs, and familiar with the apps used to craft them. As these tools are increasingly used for designing workplace presentations, Millennials assigned to create them will add polished video, animation, and virtual environments to enliven what were once sleep-inducing slide decks full of dull facts and deadly graphics.
Millennials and other workers who compose, consume, and distribute these presentations will reflect the growing workplace need for new media literacy—the ability to develop and deliver persuasive content in the latest, most effective formats. It’s one of 10 vital skills described in Future Work Skills 2020, a report by Institute for the Future for Apollo Research Institute. Millennials and their predecessors alike will use this skill to assess emerging message platforms, select those that best express their data and takeaway, and tailor presentations to specific audiences and the channels they prefer.
As specialized presentation apps and open-source software proliferate, expect the tools for producing these vibrant presentations to be offered more cheaply or for free, which will help producers become savvy in crafting and delivering their work. Word processing and desktop publishing software brought awareness of typesetting to every desktop computer. Likewise, the fusion of video tools, easy-to-use editing and effects software, and the ability to search for answers to technical questions on the Internet will make it far easier to include video segments in PDF- or web-based workplace reports, education materials, and PR releases.
Producing new media no longer occurs in a vacuum. Widespread mobile computing makes it an interactive process, creating new roles for organizations’ outreach professionals. Content managers already know the best time of day to tweet or get YouTube content uploaded so it will be seen, favorited, and redistributed widely. They will also need to interact with multiple audiences inside and outside their organization, all of whom can make their preferences instantly known. This presents a rich opportunity to gather data on how users consume messages and which ones are most relevant to them.
Unlike producers of printed annual reports or newsletters, tomorrow’s content publishers also will need to cultivate a trustworthy online identity, both as representatives of their organization and for their own career development. Misleading messages can be more easily debunked and their creators blacklisted more swiftly than ever before. New media literacy will require users of every generation to be transparent and truthful—because in the online world, good faith can be lost with a single ill-advised social-network message, and past gaffes are only a search query away.
Learn more at www.apolloresearchinstitute.org.