An imperative aspect of visual communication is the correct representation of data so that it is easily assimilated and remembered by the audience. While pitching a product, the presentation usually is the make or break point, assuming that other factors are well taken care of. The thing is that nobody wants to go through boring content, whether on their phones or in the form of a presentation during a meeting.
Nobody really wants to read the black text on a white background. Poor design doesn’t ever attract the human eye, no matter how good the message it may carry. At the same time, some mediocre content may become the apple of the audience’s eyes if it is wrapped up in a neat and fascinating design.
Let’s agree on the thing that data might bore some people, and if there’s a lot of it, it might bore most people. The job of a presentation maker doesn’t only include collecting and putting data on slides but also to make it look so seamless that the viewers register it without thinking it’s a task to do so. In this article, we’ll go through 8 important data visualization tips that will take your presenting game a notch higher:
1. Adequate Use Of Graphs And Charts
Like we mentioned before, big chunks of text won’t take your presentation ahead. What people rather like to see are colorful symmetric shapes of graphs and charts encapsulating the numbers and statistics inside.
Different kinds of data employ different kinds of graphs and charts. For example, if you want to show a cumulative rise in mobile phone usage, it’s best to use the bar graph or, at times, line charts. But in this case, using a pie chart won’t be a good idea. Pie charts work best when you have to show contribution or competition between different assets in the market, such as the market share of companies in a particular domain.
2. Putting The Colors In Place
Different colors form different mental associations. In his work ‘Theory of Colours,’ Goethe, a famous German writer and aesthetic expert pointed out that “certain colors produce systematic physiological reactions manifest in emotional experience, cognitive orientation, and overt action”. Now you can be clear as to what perception you want to create while purposefully using the colors in data presentation.
To put forth some examples, it’s safe to say that Red and Yellow are known to produce emotions related to happiness and excitement, whereas the color of peace is accepted as green. So let’s say if you’re presenting parameters in the graph such as ‘environmental health’ and ‘amount of pollution,’ you can use green for the former whereas a shade of Grey or Black for the latter.
3. Conceptualizing The Presentation Beforehand
A large part of visualization is not actually visualization but conceptualization. The point being made is simple: sharpen your ax thoroughly before you ax the wood. Let’s say you’re ready with your research and waiting to start the execution part. First of all, think about what you want the viewers to know through the data, as in ‘what’s the conclusion?’ Having that in place is one of the right ways to begin.
From the previous example, let’s say you want them to know the ‘increasing levels of environmental pollution.’ So which type of graph sounds best? The simplest one would be a bar graph with the aforementioned parameters and their respective colors.
See that we have not chosen ‘pollution’ and ‘time’ as the parameters because that would not present the complete picture. Instead, we go ahead with ‘environmental health’ and ‘pollution’ because not only does it acknowledges ‘time’ intrinsically, but it also gives a relative picture of the current and the changing scenario, hence it becomes complete in itself.
4. Highlighting Certain Aspects
Knowing which data aspect to highlight and which to leave out is an important fundamental to begin with. Here the rule is that you should highlight the important data points which you want the audience to remember after the presentation should be emphasized.
There are various ways of highlighting data so that it projects out differently from the rest. The intrinsic ways include using the options Bold, Italics, and Underline to highlight it. The other seldom-used idea is to use dissimilar colors so that there remains a perceptive difference between different parameters of data. To highlight certain important aspects, you can use strong colors such as black, dark green, denim blue, or peacock blue.
5. Using 3D Graphs Only When Necessary
Certain people, even experienced presenters, use 3D graphs because “they look good” and “dynamic” on the data. No, it doesn’t cut it. First of all, the 3D graphs are not really attractive but the opposite of it, to say the least. Most times, while using 3D graphs, it looks like the data has blotted and so the clarity is lost. Hence, aesthetics cannot be the reason to use them.
Secondly, if the reason to use them is that they bring out the complete narrative of the data, then it makes sense to use. A common example can be when you want to depict data using three parameters rather than two.
6. Pictograms, The Visual-Friendly Data Graph
Pictograms, a recent addition in presentation software, are a unique type of data graphs that use the power of visual imagery to accentuate the quality of data representation. It is not a graph with the traditional x-axis and y-axis. Instead, it uses pictures or vectors so that a mental image of data is formed in the viewers’ minds.
By using the imagery of different parameters, you can literally create an overall picture in the viewers’ minds. We recommend using pictograms for a countable or discernible amount of data; otherwise, the purpose can be lost.
7. Font it up!
Fonts are what ameliorate bland pieces of data. If your complete presentation is in the default Calibri or Arial, even the most colorful pieces can slip right below the eyes. Having said that, the tip here would be to experiment. In simple words, there is no right font.
Hitting and trying different fonts for the different pieces of content is the right way to go. If you require a starting point for this experimentation, trying out Cambria, Montserrat, Nerys, Open Sans might just begin the job.
8. Make It Dynamic
Now that you’ve gone through the important rules of presenting data, it’s time to break a few conventions to make your presentation stand out. For starters, you can begin with a specialized open source video editor instead of the traditional Microsoft PowerPoint. The advantage is that the former can provide you with a dynamic video-like feel rather than a bunch of slides going one after the other.
Another addition in this process can be to add an appropriate soundtrack with the presentation. It will help you fill the gaps of silence during the presentation. If you want to derive music from a YouTube video, you can click here to convert to an mp3 file.
The bottom line that’s common to all the above points is that you need to remember the purpose of the representation at all times. If you do that, you’ll be shooting two birds with one arrow – the first one of making the data look good and comprehensible. And the second would be to use any tool for a particular reason apart from making the data look good. Therefore, you’ll achieve a balance of aesthetics and reasonable concept in your presentations.