At a glance: which visualization for which message?

There are numerous ways to illustrate your messages in PowerPoint graphically. To help you find the right one quickly and easily, we’ve summarized various visualization types with hints for their use:

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Text slides

A clear text structure helps your audience understand your presentation. Break up long lists under separate headings. Use as few words as possible and avoid continuous text. Otherwise your audience will be concentrating on the slide rather than on you, the speaker.

Tables

Only use tables when you really need to show and discuss specific data. Some situations, e.g. trends, can be communicated much more effectively using diagrams. If you do use a table, show only the most relevant data, so that the slide is easy to read and understand.

Diagrams

Our tips for choosing the right diagram type can be found in a separate blog post (Horses for courses: Which diagram for which data?). Diagrams are ideal for revealing data relationships. You can highlight important aspects, e.g. a change in trend or a phase of continuous growth, with appropriate formatting.

Graphs

Graphs use nodes and connecting lines to display relationships between several elements. Examples include organization charts, family trees or route maps for trams and busses. To make them easy to read, ensure similar elements have the same formatting, e.g. the same size and colour for the members of one responsibility level in an organization chart.

Concept charts

Concept charts illustrate processes and the relationships between the elements in a system. To find the right type of chart, be guided by key words in the text. A simple example: ‘in three steps’ or ‘in four phases’ would indicate a process arrow chart.

Images

Well-chosen pictures can catch your audience’s attention, and make your presentation more convincing. But be careful: less is more. Leave out merely decorative images, and use a few meaningful images that underscore your content.

Graphics

Graphics, e.g. pictograms, are symbolic representations of objects or information. They can also help to structure presentations and guide the audience.

Maps

If you want to illustrate geographical relationships, edited maps are a very good choice as they enable you to highlight the exact region you are interested in. Google Maps and other map software can also be very helpful here – allowing you, for example, to position the logos of your customers or competitors on the map.

Videos and animation

Targeted use of animation allows you to build up complex illustrations step by step. Embedded videos can be a very effective way to anchor messages and let others ‘have their say’.

 

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