Presenting data in PowerPoint in visual and effective ways
Presenting data in PowerPoint is easy. But presenting data in PowerPoint in visual and effective ways take a lot more time and effort. It’s not hard to bore your audience with the same old formats of data presentation. So there is basically one simple golden rule. Make it not boring.
When used correctly, data can add weigh, authority and leverage to your message. It should support and emphasise your ideas, giving real representation to a concept. Below, we have outlined both your options for data presentation and how to use those options effectively. Knowing what methods you can use is important. But even more important is knowing how to use those methods in their most visual and effective ways.
So read ahead for more information about how to present data!
Consider your options
First, it’s important just to know what your options are for presenting data. Sure, the information is vital. But knowing how to display it is even more significant. People won’t engage with the content if they can’t understand it. Different types of data require different methods of presentation. And there are many different choices out there. We’ve outlined some basic options and some more out-there suggestions to get you started.
For more advice on how to visualize data, check out this useful article from Sinsense.
Line charts are a classic. This can make them boring. However, if done originally, line charts can be striking and effective. Their popularity comes from being able to show a trend over time. It is something concise and consistent on an understandable scale. You can easily compare with other sets of data.
Use a harmonious colour scheme to enhance the visuals in this way of presenting data. Keep it simple, but not mundane. Add pictures and personalise your data to reflect your attitude and message. Line charts are very simple – which gives them plenty of creative freedom.
Column charts are another classic choice. Again, that is because they are simple and easily recognisable and understandable. They are also brilliant for comparison and open up an opportunity to be creative with colour. While column charts also have the pitfall of mundanity, they can easily be made original and fun. Such a simple design is infinitely adaptable.
Venn diagrams are quite popular thanks to their simplicity. They are used to show the relationship between multiple groups and show crossovers, similarities and differences. Using the form of overlapping circles, you can quickly and easily see common features between separate ideas. The shared space of the circles shows what is the same between the groups. But items in the outer parts of each circle show what isn’t a common trait. This makes them fantastic for comparing and contrasting groups of data.
An indicator is a sharp and visual method of data presentation. It is very simple and gives an instant message. It is best to show a single piece of information and make an impact. Indicators can also show a progression or a target for the future. The needle is a way of saying, this is where we are. And the scale shows, this is where we want to be. Through such simple data visualisation, the result of conveying information is very effective.
Pie charts are a great way to show different percentages of a whole. They immediately identify the largest and smallest values. Yet many people use pie charts incorrectly by overpacking them. As a rule, try to stick to six sections of less. That way, the data is striking, not confusing. Once again, the powerful presentation of data is in simplicity. Then make the pie chart your own with small, individual details and designs.
Pictograms use pictures in place of numbers or icons. They add a playful visualisation to a typical chart. For example, some use icons of people when talking about population statistics. Or you might use stacks of money to show financial profits. Similarly, try using heart shapes for dating data or globes for travel statistics. It might not represent the data as precisely as numbers, but pictures are much more attractive and gripping. They draw in the audience. And in the world of presentations, that is more important than facts and figures.
Bubble charts playfully present data in a very visual way. They show different values through varying circle size. Squeezed together, the circles also show a holistic viewpoint. The bigger bubbles catch your attention. Yet a lot of small bubbles also show how the data is split between many small values. This kind of instant analysis can be very useful. For example, when determining the spending distribution of money. You can instantly see your biggest costs or notice how important finances are getting lost in a sea of bubbles.
This method of visualizing data depends upon geography and location. It helps to put data in a real-world context. You usually take a blank map and use colour for the important areas. Value is then represented by blocks, circles or shading. It is often significant to know the location of certain data, and through a consistent colour scheme, you can also show the importance of values in each area.
Go beyond PowerPoint
Above, we have outlined the most basic methods for presenting data. But in a world of constant PowerPoint presentations, some of the old classics have become tedious and boring. If you really want to present data in visual and effective ways, you should go beyond the basic formats. There are infinite ways to present data. And many methods can be adapted to fit the style and theme of your presentation.
That’s why templates like ours at 24Slides are so powerful. They let you step out of the confines of PowerPoint and into a serious standard of design that spreads your message in a way consistent with your style. Check out our templates page for more information.
Mix it up
It’s quite popular at the moment in PowerPoint design to mix up how you present data. Don’t feel restricted to a single format. Instead, perhaps use two different types of data presentation on one slide. It will make the data more attractive and interesting to the audience. For example, try using a bar chart on the left and a pie chart for different data on the right. Mixing and matching different styles is engaging.
Then why not shake up the fonts, colours and text size too? Like in the example above, make the important stuff bigger and clearer. Increase the text size of numbers and percentages – the data that you want to pop for the audience. The example has mixed a very simple, yet original, pie chart with numbers and text. The text is secondary and should only reaffirm what you are saying. But it’s the numbers and the chart that stands out in very effective ways.
Keep it simple
Stick to a consistent colour scheme and design style. Don’t overload your audience with information. Let the data speak for itself. If you write text below a chart, keep it as minimalist as possible and highlight the key figures. The important thing in a presentation is displaying data in a clear and digestible way. The heavy facts and figures can be detailed in a report. But never on a PowerPoint slide.
To really keep it as simple as possible, you can even avoid charts altogether. Numbers are also a very visual way to present data. Sometimes you don’t need to show values or proportions or percentages. In those cases, just numbers are enough. Numbers can literally speak volumes. So use them to your advantage. They jump out from a slide and give solid, simple information in both a visual and effective way.
One of the best ways to make your data impactful is originality. Take time to think about how you could uniquely present information. And try to make it link into the style or theme of your message or company. Data presenting in fun and creative ways will stick out to your audience. Don’t just run straight to standard formats. Think of a whole new concept and play around with it. The unique form will draw them in and make the data more digestible. Even if it’s not yet perfect, people will appreciate the effort at originality.
Sometimes charts and graphs are unavoidable. If you have lots of data to present, they are often the only option. But in that case, at least create an original colour scheme. Experiment with different shapes. Include images or visuals. Add a company characteristic to give it a spark of creativity. Ultimately, try to stand out. What makes your data different from others?
For more advice on originality and creativity, check out our article about getting more creative with your presentations.
It might seem obvious – but to present your data in a visual way, try using images! Pictures jump from a slide and grab the attention of your audience. They draw people in so that the text becomes more attractive. So if you have to present data, there are many ways to include images in an effective way that actually supports the readability of your information.
One powerful way to use images is by placing data over a picture. It will make your data and image seem like one thing, helping your audience remember it. For example, present travel statistics over a world map or famous landmark. Display communication data over the image of a microphone. Or set a picture of money behind your next financial report. It might seem simple, but it will immediately set the tone of your slide and let your audience know what it is about without you having to explain.
Try not to be tacky in your picture choices but select something high-quality and easy on the eyes. Watch out for colour clashes. Make sure the data is still the highlighted information on the slide. So don’t distract through images – but use them to support your message.
Highlight the important stuff
The importance of not distracting your audience brings us nicely to our final point. Highlight the important stuff. Make your slides entertaining and gripping as well as informative. But being detailed and informative is not the most important aspect of a presentation. More importantly, you should grab and keep the attention of the audience. Make them listen to the bigger message of your words, not just the exact details. All the smaller particulars can be confirmed later.
Your listeners don’t want to know the facts and figures to the nearest decimal. They want the whole number, which is easy to spot and understand. The meaning of the number is more important than its numerical value. Is it high or low? Positive or negative? Good or bad for business. These are the questions to which you want the answers to be clear.
Don’t shy away from explaining your data. Make some sections larger if they are more important. Highlight numbers in a different colour to text. Caption your charts which descriptions of the meaning of the data. Basically, make it as easy for your audience as possible.
For more advice on how to present data in PowerPoint, check out this useful SlideShare presentation from Matt Hunter.
Presenting data can actually be fun. It can be a creative activity that shows off your ability to transform something potentially dense and boring into something entertaining. You can make almost anything interesting with an original enough twist. So experiment with your own creativity and let your unique style shine through in your data presentation. After all, no one can make the exact same thing as you. You are truly unique – and that goes for your data presentation skills too!
For even more information, check out our other article on data visualisation. There is a lot to remember. But if you put the effort into making your data visual and effective, the results will reward you!