What Does Your Word Cloud Reveal?

I recently reviewed a few newspaper articles that I’d saved for later consideration. One item that caught my eye was written before the November election. It created a “word cloud” of one of the presidential debates. A quote from a political consultant interested me – since, being a dinosaur – I hadn’t heard of a word cloud. The consultant said, “Word clouds display the narrative and trajectory of a campaign’s emphasis and direction. They are extremely helpful in cutting through the clutter to visualize the strategy of a campaign.”

Word Cloud of California’s Special Needs Guide

Here’s what I’m wondering: What would a word cloud created from your presentation at a safety meeting tell about what’s important to you? What would such a cloud created from your enthusiastic “back –to-school” orientation reveal about your “emphasis and direction” for the year? How often does the word “safety” actually come up? Do words of caring and compassion for children play a big role? Are their words that are significant because of their absence, and words that demonstrate your strategies when depicted visually that you really hadn’t intended to be prominent?

My web search of “word cloud” tells me there are a lot of tools available for generating a word cloud of written text. Most of them come across as neat ways to create an art form: “You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes”; create something which is “visually stunning.” Others, however, focus on a word cloud as a means of analyzing a speech.

Political campaigns use word clouds to gauge the message they’re sending. Similarly, it could be interesting for each of us who communicates by written or spoken word to occasionally use one of the word cloud generators to see if we are saying what we mean, and are getting across points that are consistent with where we really want our emphases to be.

I think I’ll try it as I prepare for upcoming conferences. Perhaps you’ll consider doing the same for your own presentations. Let me know how/ if it works for you.                           — Peggy

Posted on February 7, 2013, in Modern Life and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. IL Association for Pupil Transportation

    I would like to reprint the “Word Cloud” article in our ILAPT February “TIPS” newsletter.

    I did put a put a blurb in the December issue about the Clearance Lights blog.

    I would reference that it is written by Pete and again reference your blog.

    Just want to make sure it is ok.

    Vicki Mattson

    Executive Director, IAPT

    Phone: 224-637-6984

    Fax: 847-244-9851

    email@ilapt.net

    • Vicki,
      We’d welcome your reprint. This piece was actually written by Peggy, but I edited/posted it. As was mentioned in the post, Peggy’s a bit of a “dinosaur” on using this newfangled technology. She’s working on it though. Please encourage your readers to drop by on the blog and share their comments. We’d really like to use our ideas to encourage discussion.

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