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The End of Boring PPT.

Do you always have a fear of a boring ppt? The information can be shown in multiple ways. Each person perceives information in different styles. The same importation can be twisted and spun off in other different ways. Presentations can be made and explained better by introducing data in them. But what matters the most is the right selection of data! Consider pitching your business idea to a client, or selling your services to a vendor, you need the right data to support your story. The right story will result in better clients.

With the increase in the adoption of machine learning and data-driven services, the need of developing and delivering data-driven presentations has become a crucial and in-demand skill for my professionals. Data is considered as the new oil. The availability of data is in abundance. The right usage of data is a vital and in-demand skill that is not everyone’s cup of tea. Stories become compelling and engaging when there are numbers to support them.

Ah, that’s simple, you would say! … A couple of histogram charts, maybe a bar graph, and yes, the pie chart and we have all the information displayed.

Well, you may be right, while a good presentation consists of data, data alone does not guarantee a mind-boggling presentation. It is not just the presence of data and charts that makes the presenter superhero. It all comes down to how this data is presented. What story are you trying to convey with those charts!

The Data driven World

Thanks to the technology boom, creating charts has become a child’s play. Software Like PowerPoint, Prezi, Canva, Visme, Haiku Deck, and other nonsensically named platforms, provide easy step-by-step processes and templates to create your first chart. But I am probably sure that you have encountered a scenario when you were confused with a chart you saw at a meeting or heard the presenter say, ” You cannot see this diagram, but all it wants to convey is …” What could be a bigger chart fail than the chart itself being rendered useless?

To help you not fail in such miseries, Let’s iterate over 7 approaches to make your presentation speakable!

#Show the data!

This is the lamest but very important and often missed point. It might sound obvious but sometimes you’re too close to your presentation - literally. What might be readable to you on your laptop may be very tiny when projected on a screen. Your audience won’t stay with you if they can’t see what you wish to present. To avoid the debacle of sheepishly translating hard-to-see numbers and labels, rehearse your presentation with colleagues sitting as far away as the actual audience would. In case they fail to learn what you wish to display, redesign to make the charts easier for the eyes.

#Decode data for your audience

For all you DC fans out there, find yourself as the Wonder Woman, and data as your magic lasso — a tool that strengthens your impact but has no value until you apply it purposefully. Don’t make it the job of the audience to decode your data. It’s your game to explain to them how the data supports your decision points.

“Data slides aren’t really about the data. They’re about the meaning of the data,” explains presentation design expert Nancy Duarte. “It’s up to you to make that meaning clear before you click away. Otherwise, the audience won’t process — let alone buy — your argument.”

When you correlate data to the fundamental subjects it supports, the transition should be explicit and sound like this:

“This data shows…”

“This chart illustrates…”

“These numbers prove…”

These transitions can be as valuable as the outcomes themselves because you’re drawing the audience’s attention to those outcomes.

#Focus on one chart at a time

The first rule in the art of confusing people is by sharing too many details at once. The only data points you should share are those that significantly support your point — and ideally, one point per chart. To keep your charts as concise as possible, ask yourself, “What’s the single most important learning I want my audience to extract from this data?” That’s the one learning you should convey. If you have several significant points to make, consider demonstrating each with a new visualization.

The blunder many presenters make is assuming they’re constitutionally obligated to share every bullet, idea, and data point on a slide. But if you’re sharing a pivotal trend that grew dramatically between 2014 and 2017, what happened in 2013 may be pointless. If 77% of respondents prefer one product and 21% prefer another, what the remaining 2% prefer may also be too insignificant to justify mentioning.

Data-presentation guru Scott Berinato says, “The impulse is to include everything you know, [but] busy charts communicate the idea that you’ve been just that — busy, as in: ‘Look at all the data I have and the work I’ve done.’”

#Label Charts for the kids

Creating your presentation is usually spread over several days. While you have seen the same chart for days, your audience sees it for the first time or let us say for the first few seconds. It is highly advised to make sure each tiny bit of the chart is comprehensible. The data should be designed by using simple, clear, and complete language to identify X and Y axes, pie pieces, bars, and other diagrammatic elements. Try to avoid abbreviations that aren’t obvious, and don’t assume labeled components on one slide will be remembered on subsequent slides.

Some members of your audience are visual learners (like me!) who process what they see much better than what they hear, so your chart’s visual intuitiveness and clarity are crucial.

The Data driven World

#The “Aha!” zones

Every valuable chart or pie graph has an “Aha!” zone — a number or range of data that exhibits something essential to your point.

Smart presenters demonstrate the significance of the “Aha!” zone orally, sharing the learning, trend, or story the data is telling.

Better presenters describe it out loud but also address it on the slide as a bullet.

But the best presenters do all of the above AND visually highlight the “Aha!” zone itself with a circle or shading to reach the differentiated (aural, verbal, visual) learners in their audience, as well as to triple-reinforce the most important data takeaways.

#Effective title slide

The page title is the first item the audience will notice and process even when data is presented effectively on a slide. Using generic terms like “Statistics” and “By the Numbers” serves no practical purpose. Likewise when the titles are specific, like “Millennial Preferences” or “Campaign Awareness,” they can still be elevated with more point-specific titles like “Millennials Prefer Mobile” or “Campaign Awareness is Increasing.” Being very focused with your title keeps the audience intact and helps them find the core relevance of the slide.

#Present to your audience, not to your data

Where do you usually look while you are presenting, if you are one of those who look at the slides while you speak, I would say, please stop and look towards our audience. Your only audience is your audience, and, as fellow human beings, they receive your points best when you look them in the eye. This doesn’t imply that you should never look at your data — just don’t have a conversation with it. Glance at your slides for reference, but make critical points directly to your audience.

Explain it to the audience

Finally, the importance of clear presentations cannot be emphasized more. When presented clearly and pointedly, data can elevate your point’s credibility and trustworthiness. Presenting data poorly not only squanders that opportunity but can damage your reputation as a presenter. Like Wonder Woman’s lasso, it’s a powerful tool to draw out compelling truths — wield it wisely.

Last updated: Nov 07, 2021