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Twelve Tips to Presenting Graphics

Presenting graphics and charts can be a terrific way to quickly get numerical data over to your audience in an easily understandable format. And if using PowerPoint's slide layout templates, charts can be so easy to produce. But don't get too carried away with the technology. PowerPoint is only a tool, and like most tools it can be a great friend if used correctly, or a terrible enemy in the wrong hands.

Here are twelve nice tips to consider when presenting graphics and charts:

  1. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid!) – Your audience should be able to assimilate the basic information from the chart within 5 to 10 seconds. If charts are overly complicated, your audience will still be trying to digest the information when you are talking. Remember people can't read one thing and listen to another thing at the same time (at least I can't!)

  2. Use a range of colors to make the graphics easier to understand and more visually interesting.

  3. Make sure the colors you choose work in a "real life" situation in the presentation room. Pay particular attention to adjacent colors. They may look okay and easy to distinguish on your computer monitor, but may be difficult to differentiate when using a projector and screen. Experiment!

  4. Select a font of at least 18 point for a medium sized room.

  5. Line graphs are good for representing trends over a certain time, for example exchange rates or sales figures.

Good example of a Line chart

  1. Don't make the lines in the graph too thin or they become difficult to see. This also applies with certain colors. A yellow line on a white background, for example, is often difficult to see clearly.

  2. Use a maximum of five lines on a graph. And use different colors for each line.

Poor example of a Line chart: too much information

  1. Bar charts with vertical side-by-side columns are good for comparing related data at various time intervals.

Bar chart

  1. Pie charts are good for illustrating how component-parts make up the whole. For example, to show how each region contributed to the total sales revenue of an organization.

  2. Keep pie charts down to a maximum of six wedges. If there are a lot of small wedges, consider grouping them under a single heading.

  3. If you want to draw attention to a particular area, use a "floating" wedge.

Good example of a Pie chart with "floating" wedge

  1. For clarity, keep the text outside the pie chart.

Poor example of a Pie chart: too messy


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Twelve Tips to Presenting Graphics


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