Slide Makeover: Data Display


As we learned yesterday, displaying data on a slide can be a tricky task.  When we have information, research, facts, and figures to share with our audience, we CAN make those visual.

Below is a typical (hideous) slide with data:


Instead of a death-by-bulletpoint approach, consider two ways to makeover your slides.

First, you can single out one piece of data that is most important for you to convey to your audience.  The fact that Americans own more than 81 million cats is astonishing, and a shocking statistic like this helps capture your audience’s attention.


Second, you can display all of the data in a simple way that follows the three-second rule of glance media.  In the slide below, the data is laid out so plainly that the audience can easily process it.  Showing more than one statistic allows your audience to see relationships and connections between the data; this may be important in your presentation.


Garr Reynolds discusses the difference between pie charts, vertical bar charts, horizontal bar charts, line charts, and tables in this post.  It’s a must-read if you’re trying to determine how to best show data to your audience.

Keep in mind that your audience needs you, the presenter, to tell them the meaning behind the data.  Hans Rosling is the man when it comes to conveying the meaning and the story of the data.  Garr Reynolds suggests we look to Rosling to teach us how to do this.  “Who says data is boring? Data is like notes on a page, says Dr. Rosling, it’s up to the presenter (the conductor) to bring the data (music) alive for the people” (Source).  Learn more about how you can move from data to meaning here.