Conquering Data Visualization for PowerPoint Design – Presentation Design Series 4 of 4

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The last installment in our Presentation Design series is a primer on the smartest ways to make data stand out using smart visual design. We’ll calculate the way numbers and statistics—presented cleanly and clearly—can add up to a message that inspires an audience. Welcome to Part 4 of Design With STYLE -The STYLE Method!

In Part 3, we learned there are style and structure principles that go into great visual design. We looked at templates, themes and topography of slides—and we absorbed the idea that the use of color is a highly effective tool.

Now, we’re learning that the basics of matching visuals with text also apply to pairing up visuals and numbers. Imagine you’ve got the absolute best product or idea to sell—and the real-life numbers all back up your premise. Unfortunately, your slides look like a mad scientist’s scribblings on a chalkboard. You’ll never sway an audience that’s confused by your data visualization.

Scientific evidence shows people comprehend visuals quicker than big blocks of text on a slide. The same goes for overly complicated sets of numbers. Ineffectively presented data hurts your message, sullies your reputation and may mean your team misses out on the contract.

As we progress into “L” Learn Data Visualization & “E” Examples, the goal is to master the effective use of numbers, charts, graphs and statistics to tell a clear story. Visual design of data is a crucial part of getting an audience to have a positive reaction to any presentation!

Design with STYLE – The STYLE Method

The word STYLE is an acronym for creating the process of creating compelling Presentation Design. Over the course of this four-part series we’ll dig into the finer points of each letter. To recap:

S = Slideology. Learn how to recognize the neuroscience behind the art of visual design and persuasion. The Picture Superiority Effect is a real thing! Our brains process images much more quickly than blocks of text.

T = Tell A Story. Discover the secrets of storyboarding. And you’ll agree that reading from your slides can turn your presentation into a snooze-fest. We’ll look at how to rehearse/remember what to say in conjunction to each of your dazzling slides.

Y = Your Design. Yes, there are style and structure principles that go into the best visual storytelling. We’ll also talk tips about templates, themes and topography. And we’ll discuss the use—and not the overuse—of color.

L = Learn Imagery and Data Visualization. It’s been true for centuries: A picture is worth a thousand words. Wouldn’t you trade that many words for one inspirational meme, or a hilarious GIF, during a presentation? Also: The ABCs of charts, graphs and diagrams.

E = Examples. Rounding out the STYLE acronym, we’ll look at highly effective examples of everything disseminated in the STYLE Method. Our presentation design services really come in handy!

For a powerful reference to help your data stand out, download our free Introduction to Data Visualization eBook.

Understanding Data Categories

Data helps you prove the value of your product or service to potential customers. Properly visualized data is a powerful tool for persuading an audience or demonstrating value. Before jumping to the most common types of data visualizations, let’s get familiar with the different types of data and data relationships:

Data Types

  1. 1Quantitative. Can be counted or measured, and all values are numerical.
  2. 2Discreet. Numerical data with a finite number of possible values (example: number of cars in a fleet).
  3. 3Continuous. Data that is measured and a value that lies along a range (example: annual car sales).
  4. 4Categorical. Data that can be sorted by category (example: types of cars sold).

Data Relationships

  1. 1Nominal Comparison. A simple comparison of quantitative values (example: number of visitors to various websites).
  2. 2Time Series. The change in a value of one metric over time (example: the population of a city over 20 years)
  3. 3Correlation. Data that has two or more variables that demonstrate a mutual relationship.
  4. 4Ranking. How two or more values relate to each other in relative magnitude (example: population density of a country).
  5. 5Deviation. How data points relate to each other and how far a given data point differs from the mean (example: number of concert tickets sold on a rainy day versus a sunny day).
  6. 6Distribution. Visualization of how data distribution surrounds a single value (example: the heights of players on a college basketball team).
  7. 7Part-to-Whole. Showing a subset of data that compares to the larger whole (example: number of goldfish sold in a pet shop that sells lots of different animals).

“L” Learn Data Visualization

The goal of good data visualization is to connect with an audience by making them work as little as possible to comprehend your numbers. With Moxie Institute’s SlideSTYLE: Visual Storytelling Workshop, participants will access the skills to create presentations using the same principles taught to professional designers, including the best ways to show how data can be visualized using:

  1. 1Bar charts. Best for showing change over time, comparing categories and parts of a whole. Can be vertical, horizontal or stacked.
  2. 2Pie charts. Great for making part-to-whole comparisons. Most impactful with a small data set. Standard pie charts use the whole circle; a more stylized variation is called the donut, which has an open center where you can add a graphic that fits the data set.
  3. 3Line charts. Good for time-series relationships with continuous data. They help show trend, acceleration, deceleration and volatility.
  4. 4Area charts. Also depict time-series relationships, but are different than line charts in that they can represent volume. Use of color helps delineate measured data.
  5. 5Scatter plots. For large amounts of data, they can show relationship between two sets of variables.
  6. 6Bubble charts. Good for displaying nominal comparisons or ranking relationships. Or, can be used to visualize values for specific geographic areas.
  7. 7Heat maps. Used to show categorical data, using intensity of color to represent values.

A Clear Example

Now that we’ve covered data types and data relationships, lets walk through a real-life example of how to best visualize data.

We took this directly from a Moxie Institute client at a big Boston consultancy. They showed the entire slide but only needed to talk to just a few points of data.

powerpoint design

The most essential action is to delete, delete, delete! Remove all the unnecessary components until only the most important points are left. The steps below help guide you through this process.

1. Meaning: Ask yourself why is this slide being used? What will your audience gain from seeing it? Sometimes you may decide remove it entirely and that actually help a presentation flow better.

2. Simplicity: Get rid of sections (don’t be afraid of white space). In this example above, the side table and footers are distracting and can be removed. The key can be simplified and/or talked to.

3. Clarity: Delete subheads and extra numbers. Be conservative with the number of colors you use and ensure each visual is large and easy to see.

4. Focus: You want your audience to focus on you. Take out as much text as possible so they listen rather than read.

This is how we improved the slide above.

  • First we removed needless headers and footers.

powerpoint design

  • Then we removed the side table that didn’t get referenced.

powerpoint design

  • Then we removed the data that wasn’t needed and re-imagined the design to be easier to read and less distracting.

Here’s the meaningful, simple and clear final product:

powerpoint design

This is much simpler and focuses the audience’s attention on the data being discussed. You can show the first slide if you want to demonstrate the breadth of your research but always aim to get to and talk at the simplest slide as soon as you can.

If you’re starting to get a headache, there’s an easier option. We can create an impactful presentation for you tailored to your voice. We also specialize in training individuals and teams on how to create and deliver top-tier presentations to take your business to the next level.

Finally, our last chapter ties everything you’ve learned together.

“E” Examples

Our four-part DESIGN WITH STYLE series has included a bevy of tips and techniques for awesome slide design. Here’s a last look at some slides that re-affirm great visual design practices:

Long blocks of text are a no-no.

Large images and color make visuals “pop.”

Get creative with numbers, and remember that bigger font sizes stand out.

Add visuals and color to a bar chart; make sure all text is horizontal and legible.

Presentation Design Services

Visualize a Meeting With Us!

When you need professional assistance with data visualization–individually or as a team–Moxie Institute can help you with:

  • Business Presentation and Slide Design
  • Presentation Design Coaching
  • Design Team Training and Workshops
  • Slide Review Services

The MOXIE Method!

In our next series, we’ll begin the first chapter of the MOXIE Method for preparing and delivering a memorable speech. The Moxie Institute can help you take your presentation from boring to bravo! The first chapter in the MOXIE Method is “M” Move Your Mouth. Learn to form your speaker persona. With a public speaking coach, become the most articulate, dynamic and eloquent version of you!


Schedule an easy 30-minute call using our calendar. We’re here to help!


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