Presenting Facts and Figures Clearly and Effectively
September 25, 2012, Graphics, PowerPoint Design, Presentation Delivery, Presentation Design
Figures, facts, and data ‒ they are integral to reinforcing your statements and helping you drive your message home. But often data is presented in a boring way, losing the attention of the audience. Moreover, data can be presented in a way that leaves the audience confused forcing them to make their own interpretations. In order for facts and figures to effectively support your argument or findings, the data needs to be presented in a way that is clear, easy to understand and inspires action.
Here are some tips to improve how you present data.
1. Determine your key points. You have a bunch of raw data, but what do you want your audience to really take away from all this data? Is it just that your company has grown, or that you’ve taken market share? When your key points are clear, it makes it easier for the audience to absorb the information, and easier for you to steer the audience to the same conclusion.
2. Don’t rely on text alone. Nothing is more boring than reading text off of a slide. Worse, when the audience is faced with a sea of text, it is difficult to decipher what is the main point of the slide. When you ask people to think too much, they lose interest.
3. Choose the right visual representation for the job. Pie charts, bar graphs, timelines… we are all familiar with the common ways to present data. The key is choosing which represents the type of information you are sharing to best drive your message home. Are you comparing two numbers or looking at changes over time? For example, bar graphs make it easy to compare different scenarios, such as earnings over different fiscal years.
4. Be clear. Graphs and charts should convey your information, not distract from it – an overloaded chart will surely distract. Make sure to remove anything repetitive or ornamental. If you have a lot of raw data, choose the few data points that deliver your message strongly and represent those. A rough guide is to make one to two data points per slide. Remember, you can always add more slides if needed.
5. Use images. Charts and graphs aren’t the only ways to present facts and figures. If you distill your information into key points, you can use images to represent each point . While it can take a little time and brain power to understand a chart or graph, images are processed much faster. They also have the ability to increase the audience’s emotional engagement, and convey the essence of what’s being communicated. Images are also easier to remember than facts, and in a competitive environment it’s important to stand out.
6. Make it fun. When presenting facts and figures in-person, you and your visual aids are working to keep the audience’s attention. However, when you need a standalone way to present data, such as on your website, you need something more dynamic. Create a video that tells the story of your information. Craft a visual narrative that strings your statements and evidence together, while leading the audience to your conclusion. Add professional animation and music to keep the viewer engaged. Talk the audience through an infographic to carefully explain a process. Videos are a fun way to get your point across.
Data can be complicated, and complexity can be boring. But a good visual representation can make data meaningful and send a clear message in an instant. When your audience can easily understand the information you are presenting, the more likely they will stay tuned in.