Why is this important?
Because if your job or schooling involves research you’ll probably have to present some sort of statistical information. And one way that you’ve been doing that has probably been with tables. Something with some rows and columns neatly labelled and copied and pasted into a PowerPoint slide.
Well, the problem with that is that YOU may be very familiar with that data, but your audience won’t be.
Even if they’re your peers, during a presentation, they won’t have much time to fully understand what you’ve been working on for weeks or months or more. And if you have a long presentation, there’s no way they will remember the data you had in a table they saw 30 minutes ago. The other major problem is that tables are kinda ugly.
So, let’s fix that problem…
Watch the video below by clicking the image or download it here if YouTube is unavailable in your area: How to present data without using tables (Length 3:28)
Or keep reading… 🙂
Okay, here’s a typical table and I’ve only included 3 categories and some corresponding data: (Click to enlarge)
The big problem with this, like I said, is that people will not be able to remember your data and the other problem is that this is just plain f-ugly. You can look up the meaning of that yourself. Anyway, the way to fix this f-ugly thing is to separate the categories and put them onto their own slide with their own headings.
For example, like thisâ€¦
Now the audience can focus on one piece of information at a time, which makes it much easier for them to remember what they saw. Also notice that I summarized the data to make it simpler for the audience to understand the trend. That’s something you’re gonna need to do, as well, because it makes your message a lot more clear.
If you don’t summarize the data, you’ll end up explaining it and possibly confusing your audience.
The other problem is the audience will sit there trying to figure out what the data means while you’re talking. In other words, they’ll be too busy to listen to you.
Now let’s take these slides one step further by using a picture that represents the category you’re talking about.
For example, like thisâ€¦
As you can see, the picture creates a stronger impression because it’s totally visual. Just as before, be sure to summarize the data for the audience. You’ll also notice that I’ve removed the category because the picture and my accompanying explanation will be enough. But you can certainly do it without the picture.
In fact, most Apple presentations will show just a number so you know it’s ok when Apple does it.
- Take your data and separate it into individual categories.
- Put each category onto its own slide with just the number.
- Or use the number plus a picture.
The key is to not get stuck in the habit of just copying and pasting a table and thinking that your audience is going to understand it; and equally importantâ€¦ thinking they’ll remember what you told them.