I fly a lot for work and have become an expert at analyzing airport departure boards. I have noticed a major between the departure boards in European airports and the departure boards at airports in Canada.
In Europe, departures are arranged chronologically. The flights about to part are at the top of the screen whereas later flights are at the bottom. As flights take off, they are removed from the board and the other flights all shift up.
For example, to the right is a photo that I took at the international airport in Brussels when I spoke at a conference there in January.
When I traveled to Canada last summer, I flew from, or to, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. At each airport, I noticed that the departure boards were organized differently from those in Europe. For example, the next photo is one that I took at Montreal’s Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport. Do you notice the difference?
In Canada, they organize the departure boards alphabetically by destination. This board also provides the logo of the airline company instead of just the call letters as in the photo above.
Between the two, I prefer the Canadian one—and no, not because I am Canadian. It is because I can find my flights a bit faster when I am in Canada.
If you randomly stopped 100 people in an airport and asked them when their flight was departing, many of them would have to check their tickets to be sure of the precise time. But if you asked those same 100 people where they were flying, all 100 could tell you immediately.
At the Canadian airports, I find it a bit easier to locate my flights. Even when there are multiple flights to the same destination, as is the case with London/Heathrow in the photo above, I can quickly narrow the field and find my flight. The three flights to London/Heathrow at 22:25 were the same flight, just different flight codes. What was odd—and not helpful—is that they placed the 20:05 Air Canada flight to London/Healthrow in the middle of those other flights and out of order chronologically.
In a completely unscientific study, I watched passengers in both airports to gauge how quickly they could find their flights. The amount of information was about the same in both locations. The screen in Brussels above is bigger than the one in Montreal, but there were more screens in Montreal. It appeared to me that people spent less time searching in Montreal than in Brussels.
The lesson, when it comes to presenting, and particularly slide presentations, is that you want to make your ideas as easy to understand as possible. Have one main idea for each slide; don’t use too much text; eliminate distracting visuals and colours; bring bullet points in one at a time; give concrete examples; highlight the relevant data in a chart or graph; don’t flip through the slides too quickly.
Every time you present, you take your audience on a journey. Make sure they reach their destination!