E book 14 tips to present awesome charts[1]


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E book 14 tips to present awesome charts[1]

  1. 1. Free E-Book By Vivek SinghAuthor of the blog All About Presentations www.allaboutpresentations.com
  2. 2. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsI hereby give you every right to distribute this e-book. If you are reproducing or quoting any part of this e-book you must mention my name and link to the blog (www.allaboutpresentations.com) Page 2 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  3. 3. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsWhat is this E-Book about?This e-book will help you make awesome charts in 14 simple steps. You will be able tocreate charts that are effective and smart looking. These tips were first published as a seriesof 14 posts on the blog www.allaboutpresentations.com. This is a revised and conciseversion of the entire series. You can read all the posts online here.Who will benefit from this e-book?If you make charts and present it to others (through reports, presentations or any othermedium) this e-book is for you.This e-book focuses more on presenting charts and not on creating them. Hence it does notcover the basic steps of entering data and creating a chart from scratch. It assumes youknow how to make a simple chart (in MS Excel and/or MS PowerPoint).However, in case of advanced usage (like adding a secondary axis to your chart) each andevery step is explained in detail.Please Note: 1. All the tips on creating charts are based on MS PowerPoint 2007. However, people using older version should not find any problem is using the tips contained in the e- book. 2. This e-book uses the words ‘charts’ and ‘graphs’ interchangeably. Page 3 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  4. 4. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsContentsTip #1: The Bigger Picture .................................................................................. 5Tip #2: Do you really need a chart? .................................................................... 7Tip #3: Which chart type should you use? ....................................................... 10Tip #4: What is your key message? .................................................................. 15Tip #5: Chart Title............................................................................................. 17Tip #6: Number of Data Points ......................................................................... 18Tip #7: Data Labels ........................................................................................... 20Tip #8: Chart Legend ........................................................................................ 21Tip #9: Chart Axis ............................................................................................. 23Tip #10: Data Source ........................................................................................ 26Tip #11: Chart Colours ..................................................................................... 27Tip #12: Chart Animation ................................................................................. 30Tip #13: Highlighting ........................................................................................ 32Tip #14: Chart Aesthetics ................................................................................. 35 Page 4 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  5. 5. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsTip #1: The Bigger PictureWhen you create a chart you make a series of decisions (consciously or otherwise). Youdecide on the chart type, chart colour, etc. What is the starting point of it all?It all starts from what is the point you are trying to make. You create a chart from raw datawith a purpose. Your purpose can be the following:  To share information, or  To prove or disprove somethingYou might be trying to prove that sale in your area is growing very fast. If you just say this,not many might believe. Hence, you support it with data. But, how do you present this datawhich will prove your point (that sale is indeed growing well)? You can do the following:  Create a chart (the most obvious choice, but not necessarily the best one)  Create a table  Make an infographic (more on it in Tip #2)  Simply type out the data on the slideMaking a Chart: A 4 Step Process 1. What is your key message? 2. Do you really need a chart to support your key message? 3. Which chart type should you use? 4. How should you design your chart? Page 5 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  6. 6. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsAfter deciding to make a chart, there are two broad areas which you need to consider.  Chart Core, and  Chart DesignYour key message, the need for a chart and the right chart type form the chart core. Theycome first and have to be answered. Chart design includes the other ten areas;  Chart title, data points and data labels  Legend, chart axis, source, colours  Animation, highlight and aestheticsChart Core or Chart Design: Which is more important?Many people worry only about the chart core. These people spend more time on the firstthree areas of making a chart: key message, need for a chart and chart type. They totallyneglect chart design. This neglect might come from ignorance or lack of care. I call themNorth Pole Presenters.Then there are presenters who get lost in small details and forget the overall picture. Theyspend more time on chart design. They try various kinds of line colours, markers, shadowand gradients. You can throw them off balance if you ask, "What is the point you aremaking?" Amidst all this design they forgot the key message. These are South PolePresenters. Where do you find yourself in this world? The best place to be is in the middle. Give equal importance to Chart Core and Chart Design. It is very important to crunch data, choose the right chart type and know what you are presenting. But if you are unable to get it across (which is the role played by chart design) then all this preparation falls flat.Chart core has more to do with what you are presenting and chart design has everythingto do with how you are presenting it. A healthy mix of both is the recipe for an awesomechart.[Click here to read the original blog post] Page 6 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  7. 7. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsTip #2: Do you really need a chart?You have by now understood that your key message is the point you are trying to make andchart is just one of the mediums to do that. We will now answer the following questions:  What is a Chart?  When should you use a chart?  What are the alternatives to a chart?What is a Chart?Chart (or Graph) is a visual representation of raw data serving many purposes: 1. It makes data easy to understand 2. It reveals relationships between data 3. It amplifies the impact of data 4. It converts raw data into useful information for managerial decision makingWhen should you use a chart?You have some raw data which will support the point you are trying to make. Before makingthe chart, ask yourself this question. “What value do I add when I present this raw data inthe form of a chart?” What happens if you just presented the raw data in the form of atable?If your chart does not add any value and does not fulfil any of the four objectives above, donot make it.Example 2.1: Your organization has grown leaps and bounds in the last 30 years. This is yourkey message. To prove this to the new recruits you have this raw data. If you present this raw data in the form of a table, do you think you will be able to impress the new recruits? The impact of this table is nil. How about presenting it like the bar graph below. Page 7 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  8. 8. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About Presentations These New York Skyscrapers will nail the point in the minds of the audience very well. This visual representation meets objectives 1 (easy to understand) and 3 (amplifies the impact).Use charts only when you have more than one data pointNever make a chart with one data point. A chart which has one bar or a pie which has onenumber does not make much sense. In these cases, try some other option.Example 2.2: You conducted a market research and found that your product’s market shareis 5%. This is very low and you want the management to take strong cognizance. Here aretwo ways of presenting this information: It is much better to put the number in limelight and initiate a discussion rather than putting just another pie and diluting the power of this information.What are the alternatives to a chart?You have decided that chart is not a good medium to deliver your key message. In that caseyou have the following options. 1. Create a table 2. Simply type out the data on the slide 3. Make an infographicPoint 1 and 2 are simple to understand. In example 2.1 we saw a table and in example 2.2we saw how to type out the data on the slide. Page 8 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  9. 9. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsInfographic: This is a very unique and interesting way of presenting information. Look at thefollowing example:Example 2.3: 16.7% of the world population lives is India. How do you present thisinformation? Because you have one data point, you should not use a chart. How about this? This is a much more evolved way of presenting information. If you are comparing the sales of three countries, instead of making a table, you can try plotting the numbers on a map.Make charts which add some value to the information and enhance audienceunderstanding. Keep your options open. Be ready to look beyond charts.[Click here to read the original blog post] Page 9 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  10. 10. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsTip #3: Which chart type should you use?After you have decided to go for a chart, the first decision you have to make is about thechart type. How do you decide which chart to choose?Do yourself a favour by not going to ‘Insert Chart’ in MS PowerPoint. PowerPoint gives you74 types of charts under 11 varieties. There are pies, donuts and even spiders up for grabs.Which chart type to use depends on what you are doing with your data. So instead ofworrying about 74 chart types, answer the following question:What are you doing with your raw data?You can do the following: 1. Compare data 2. Break data into smaller parts to see what it is composed of 3. See data over time 4. Discover correlation between two sets of dataBecause correlation is an advanced usage and is used very rarely, we will keep it aside. Wenow have three main usages of data. Look at the following image. This is the framework which will help you choose the right chart type. Look at the image carefully. We are going to study 6 types of uses a data can be put to. We already covered 3 above. A. Compare data B. Break up data into parts C. See data over timeFrom the interplay between A, B and C we get 3 more cases. D. Break data into parts and compare the sub-parts (D=A+B) E. Comparing data over time (E=A+C) F. Break down parts of data and see over time (F=B+C)We shall deal with each one of them with simple examples from real life. Page 10 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  11. 11. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsA. Compare dataWhen you are comparing data you are pitting them against each other. What’s the best wayto compare your height with your sister’s height? Make both of you stand near each other.Rings a bell?When you are comparing data, use a bar graph. Bar graphs are of two kinds; column(vertical) and horizontal. Though both the graphs serve the same purpose and can be usedinterchangeably you should prefer vertical graphs because it is easier for the eyes tocompare vertical distances.Example A: Per Capita Consumption of Shampoo in India in USD The chart on the left has been taken from Hindustan Unilever’s investor presentation. The presentation is comparing per capita consumption of shampoo in India to other countries. I have recreated the same in horizontal bar as well (right). The vertical one looks better.B. Break data into partsWhen you break down data to analyze what it is comprised of then you can use pie charts,stacked bar graphs and normal bar graphs. However a pie chart is the most preferredchoice. Some examples of what it means to break data into parts are as follows: i. How much sales of your brand comes from North, South, East & West India? ii. What is the market share of various soap brands in the US?Example B: Shareholding Pattern as of June 30, 2009 of Infosys.Here you are breaking down the equity share holding of various entities and hence youshould use pie charts. This data can be presented in three ways. Page 11 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  12. 12. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsThe chart in the middle is a normal bar whereas the one on the extreme right is a stackedbar graph. I advise you to stick to pie charts when breaking down data into parts.C. See data over timeFor presenting data over time , you can use line graphs, area graphs and bar charts.Examples where you compare data over time are: i. Stock price for last 12 months ii. Sales & profits of a company over time iii. Number of employees in an organization over timeExample C: You want to invest in the shares of Reliance Industries so you want to see itsstock price over the last three months. Here are two ways you can present this chart. The area chart and the line chart serve the same purpose here. The area graph actually accentuates the movements of the stock price. The same data can actually be presented as a bar graph. However, bar graph will make the chart cluttered because the number of data points is very large.D. Break data into parts and compare the sub-parts(Compare + Break data into parts)Example D: In Example B we saw how to break down the shareholding pattern of Infosysinto its sub-parts. I now ask you to compare the shareholding patterns of Infosys with Wipro& Polaris (as of June 30, 2009). How would you present this chart?Because we are breaking down shareholding into its sub-divisions, we should use pie charts.Going by the old logic our slide looks like this: Page 12 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  13. 13. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsSuddenly, the pie is complicating things. First we need more space for 3 charts and second,it is tougher to understand and compare while looking at 3 charts. Look now at the right way of presenting. This Stacked Bar Chart looks better. Remember you have done two things here. One, you broke up each companys shareholding pattern. Second, you compared the smaller chunks with each other. The analysis here could be that Wipro is far more closely held (high promoter holding) than Polaris and Wipro. To do any meaningful analysis you need to understanddata first. Stacked Bar Chart helps you do that much better than a pie chart.E. Comparing data over time (Compare + See data over time)When we compare two or more pieces of data across many time periods we can useBar Graph or Line Graph.Example E: You have sales and profits data of your company for the past 17 years. How doyou present this data? The line graph and bar graph both can be used. However, as the number of data points keep going up, you should prefer line over bar. Having 15-20 vertical bars make a slide cluttered. Avoid bars as soon as the number of data points crosses 15. Page 13 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  14. 14. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsF. Breaking data into parts and seeing it over timeWhen you have to break down data into parts and then see how the parts shape up over aperiod of time what should you use? You can use both these charts; stacked bar graph andstacked area graphs.Example F: You are studying worlds consumption of cooking oil over time. This is the datayou have (it is a hypothetical data). If you look closely, we have broken down world consumption into four oil sub-types. Then we are looking at how the sub-types change over time. You should present this data using either a stacked bar chart (right) or a stacked area graph (left).SummaryYou should remember these six cases or six treatments which your data can go through.Here is a ready reckoner to remind you of which chart to use when. I have not discussed about special charts like bubbles, radars and donuts because they are complex. They tend to confuse the audience and don’t add much value. Avoid them.[Click here to read the blog post] Page 14 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  15. 15. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsTip #4: What is your key message?The process of making a chart starts from the key message. Every presentation has anobjective. You are making an argument in the presentation. Each chart adds to thatargument in a small way.How you arrive at the key message is beyond the scope of this e-book. You should knowwhat you want to talk about. We are concerned only with how to present it in the form of achart.How should you present your charts’ key message?To make an awesome chart, you need to know the following: 1. Know what your key message is. Know what point you are trying to make/prove/disprove with the help of your chart. 2. Do not have more than one key message for every chart. Two is just too many. 3. Write down the key message on the slide in one complete sentence. Dont eat words and make it small. Dont be verbose and make it too long. 4. You should write down the key message on your slide header. You can also write it in a box near the chart. Make sure it is clearly visible and readable.Example 4.1: Look at this chart from the investor presentation of Hindustan Unilever (HUL). HULs spend on advertising and promotion (A&P) has gone down in this quarter. Being the biggest spender in India on advertising, their investors might be worried seeing this chart. So they have added a key message below the chart. They say, even though they are spending less yet they remain competitive in spends on brand building. Investors have nothing to worry. Page 15 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  16. 16. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsException to the Rule:When you are just sharing information and there is nothing ‘key’ to share with the audience,the chart need not have a key message. Look at the chart from Starbucks below: Example 4.2: Starbucks performance in its Annual Report, 2008 This chart merely tells you that the number of stores is on the rise. There is nothing more that they want to communicate. Hence, no key messages here.[Click here to read the blog post] This marks the end of our topics on Chart Core. We now move on to Chart Design. Page 16 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  17. 17. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsTip #5: Chart TitlePurpose of having a Chart TitleA chart title tells the audience what the chart is for. It helps the audience read andunderstand the chart faster. Try removing the title from a chart you would have presentedrecently. The audience will take more time to grasp it. Remember that the audience getsonly a few seconds to see the chart and make sense of it while you are presenting.What should a Chart Title be like?The title tells the reader what the data on display is and helps him/her understanding itfaster and better. 1. Chart title should be descriptive and not too short. 2. Chart title should also have the time period mentioned. The year should be written in full. 2008-09 is better than 08-09.Example 5.1: Take a look at this chart from an investor presentation by Hindustan Unilever(HUL).What is the pie chart showing?Break up of sales (turnover) orprofits (EBIT)?Obviously sales? You know thisbut the investors do not. Howdoes an investor figure this out?You are (subconsciously)assuming your audience knowswhat you know. Hence you omitsome information by mistake.Having a proper title willeliminate such confusion.SummaryUnderstand who your audience is. Realize they have limited exposure time to see andunderstand the chart. Admit that it is they who will decide whether your charts are good orbad.A simple solution to all your problem is this: Put chart title in every chart you make.[Click here to read the blog post] Page 17 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  18. 18. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsTip #6: Number of Data PointsAfter choosing the chart type and giving a chart a proper title, you now need to considerhow many data points to display on the chart.What is a Data Point?If your pie chart has 10 parts then it has 10 data points. If the bar chart has 4 vertical bars,there is 1 bar for each of the 4 data points. If you are making a one year chart of the stockprice of Infosys, then you will need 365 data points (actually you would need somewherearound 310 because there are 52 Sundays plus some holidays when the share market isclosed).How do you decide on the correct number of data points?As you know, a chart is used to prove or disprove a point to the audience. In order to do theanalysis, you might need 20 data points but to prove the point in the presentation youmight only need 10. So when you present your chart you must have only 10 data points.What to remember while choosing the number of data points?1. The more the data points, the more complex the chart becomes. Audienceunderstanding is inversely proportional to the no. of data points your chart has. The moredata points your chart has, the lesser the audience will understand in a given time.2. When presenting data over time, choose data points at equal time gaps. Example 6.1: KK Consultants (name changed) are making a presentation to the new employees of their organization. They are sharing how their organisation has grown leaps and bounds in the last three decades. This is how the chart looks. We have seen this chart already in Example 2.1 (Tip #2)Good. But think of the new employee looking through this and trying to read 14 data points.The key message here is that our organization has grown leaps and bounds over the lastthree decades’. To make this argument, you might need to analyze 14 data points, but topresent you can manage with only 4. Take a look at this new chart. Page 18 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  19. 19. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About Presentations Great! An audience to understand 14 data points will take time and does not add much value. By reading 14 data points, it is tough to draw this conclusion (added 2 employees per day!). Humans cannot mentally analyze so many data points. But with 4 data points, the audience gets the key message far more easily and far more powerfully.Example 6.2: Look at this chart from the American Heart Association. It talks about the heartdisease mortality rates (deaths in thousands for males and females). Look closely at the chosen data points; 1979, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2005. While 1980 to 2005 are at 5 year gaps, there is also an unwanted 1979. Visually all data points look equally far away from each other in time. But they are not. This situation should be avoided. Choose equidistant data points.[Click here to read the original post] Page 19 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  20. 20. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsTip #7: Data LabelsAfter you have chosen the number of data points and created the chart, you now need tolabel your data. We discussed in the last post that you might require 30 data points to doyour analysis but you can present it with only 10. Do you still need to label all 10 datapoints? Need not.You are showing the share price of Reliance Industries from April to June 2009. Will youlabel all the data points? No. Because that will make the chart cluttered and will serve nopurpose. You can just label a few data points which help you convey the key message.What you must remember about labelling your data?1. All relevant data points should be labelled. There is no compulsion to label every datapoint. It depends on what point you are trying to prove with the chart (key message).2. The labels should not clutter the chart and hurt audience understanding. Space them outand make them legible (greater than 18 font size).3. Position the label properly on the chart. Labels on a pie chart can be inside the pie oroutside. The objective that drives this choice is how easily readable and understandable thelabel is.Example 7.1: Take a quick look at this chart from ACC and answer this question. What is thecapacity utilization (%) for the 5 years (see the line graph)?86, 93, 18.7, 19.9, 20.8. Right?Wrong! Take a look again. For thefirst two data points, the label forthe line graph was above the line.For the next three, it went belowthe line and changed its colourfrom black to white.The solution: If you put a % afterthe numbers it will be far simplerto read the chart. Also, beconsistent with colour coding ofdata labels and don’t mess withtheir positions.Use different colours for labelling different graphs (in this case, use different label coloursfor bar and line graph). Use this colour coding when the labels appear so close to eachother. When the labels are far away, colour coding is not needed.[Click here to see more examples in the original blog post] Page 20 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  21. 21. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsTip #8: Chart LegendWhat is a legend?A legend, as you know, is a guide that helps the audience read your chart. If you arecomparing the share prices of Microsoft and Yahoo and your chart has two line graphs, thenyour legend tells the audience which line denotes which company. The legend is a visualsymbol of the data series that has been plotted on the chart.When you dont need a legend?By definition, a legend tells you which bar or line chart is for which data series. Hence, youneed a legend only if you have more than one data series on your chart. You dont need it ifyou are showing the growth of sales over time and have just one line graph (or a series ofbar graphs). Most of the graphs you would have seen in your life will have a legend evenwhen there is only one data series. Why?Reason 1: Because the legend comes by default in the software.Reason 2: Because of your ignorance.Where do you place the legend?The legend by default is always placed to the right. But there are in total 5 places where youcan place it. Top, Right, Left, Bottom and Inside the Plot Area (along with the data points).Where you place it has a huge impact on the usefulness of the legend. Remember theobjective of a legend is to make the chart easy to read.Few examples of legends Page 21 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  22. 22. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsLesson (pie charts above): Placing the labels outside the pie chart (without having a legend)is much better. Pie chart on the right looks much smarter and friendly.Lesson (bar charts below): The legend should be in sync with the bar graphs. If your bar goesfrom left to right then you legend should be read from left to right.Lesson (line graphs above): Labelling the lines on the right is better than a legend.To Summarize:1. Do not use a legend when you have only one data series (example, sales over time).2. When making pie charts, put the series name with the data labels outside the pie itself.Do not create a legend.3. Place the legend where it is logical. Make it sync with the way data has been presented.4. When using line graphs, label the line graphs instead of putting a legend.[Click here to read the blog post] Page 22 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  23. 23. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsTip #9: Chart Axis1. What is an axis?An axis in a chart or graph is the line along which we measure our variables. It is nothing buta scale (or a ruler). The x-axis and y-axis tells you what are being measured and lets you readthe measurements.2. What should you know about an axis?First, you should know the purpose of an axis. An axis tells you what is being measured andalso lets you read the values. As an audience, you should always check out the axis beforelooking at the bar or line graph.Second, because the axis tells you how to read the chart, you have to label the axis withwhat is being measured and the units of measurement. This is however theory. It is better,at times, to write down the chart title as ‘Sales (in $mn)’ than to say just ‘Sales’ in chart titleand put ‘in $mn’ in axis title.3. Playing with the axis?Left click to select the axis and then right click to choose Format Axis. 3a. Line Colour & Styles Choose vertical y-axis -> Format Axis -> Line Colour. Solid Black. Then Line Style -> Width 4. Again, choose horizontal x-axis -> Format Axis -> Line Color. Solid Black. Line Style -> Width 4. You chart will look better with a thicker axis. 3b. Axis Options Choose the vertical y-axis -> Format Axis -> Axis Options -> Change the Minimum from Auto to Fixed and enter 80. See what happens. The y-axis now starts counting from 80. The growth in sales now looks far better than it looked when the axis started from zero. Which one is better? What should Page 23 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  24. 24. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About Presentationsyou do?Companies in their annual reports do play this trick very often. You should as a rule, alwaysstart you axis from zero. In case you are not doing so, for some justified reason, then youmust inform the audience of this aberration.4. When and how should you use secondary axis?Let us take an example. You have to make a chart to show the financial highlights ofSpaceTel (a hypothetical company). Here is the raw data.Using our framework from Tip #3, you can create a bar graph or a line graph (because youare comparing data over time). You create a bar graph. Here is how your chart looks like: What is wrong with the graph on the left? The software looks at all the values and tries to fix a scale (axis) which includes the maximum value of 500. Hence, it has taken the scale up to 600. By doing this, the profit percentage data which is maximum 35% (=0.35) becomes invisible. How do you solve this problem?You need a different axis in the same chart. That other axis is called secondary axis. Onthis we measure the profit percentage. Page 24 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  25. 25. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsAdding a secondary axisStep-1 Choose the data series profit percentage byclicking next to the profit bar in red.Step-2 Right click -> Format Data SeriesStep-3 Series Options -> Choose Secondary Axis ->CloseAre you in deeper trouble now?No. Click on the data series again (one click on any green bar will select all bars). Right clickand select Change Series Chart Type. Choose a Line Graph. Click Ok. Your chart is ready.Summary of what you learnt about Axis:1. Axis is a scale which tells you what is being measured and its unit of measurement.2. These two pieces of information have to be present in every chart. You need not labelthem near the axis. You can mention it with the chart title.3. Your axis should start from zero. In case it does not, inform the audience about it.4. When you are measuring variables (like sales, profits) whose values are different fromeach other or the gap between maximum and minimum value is too big, then add asecondary axis.[Click here to read the detailed blog post] Page 25 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  26. 26. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsTip #10: Data SourceYour chart is made from raw data. But this raw data is not a fiction of your imagination. Ithas a source. A place from where you culled out the data for analysis and representation.Why you need to worry about the source?You are in-charge of new product launches in your company. You have studied the fairnesssoap market for men in India and in your presentation to the CEO you are recommending tolaunch a new soap brand. In the process of research you would have come across lots ofdata. During your presentation, your CEO might ask; "Where did you get this data from?" Allthat he is asking for is; tell me the source of data.For the audience to accept your charts key message (the point you are trying to make), theyneed to know if the chart is credible. They might not ask for the source always, but having iton the chart enhances the credibility of your argument.When should you mention the source and when you should not?Though every chart has a source, you need not mention it all the time. It is required whenthere is a need to boost credibility. Talking about credibility, there are two situations youneed to consider:i. Internal Credibility - Source of data is optionalii. External Credibility - Source of data is necessaryWhen you are presenting something from your area of expertise (domain), you do not needto compulsorily mention a source. The credibility comes from you (the presenter) and youraudience knows about your expertise. They trust you. But, it is possible that you arepresenting something outside your domain. In which case, the audience would like to knowthe source of your data.Remember, the taller your claim, the more credibility you require to support it. You cant getaway by simply making bold claims and recommendations and not backing it up.How and where to mention the source?The source is generally mentioned below the chart in a font size that is easy to read. But inhow much detail you should mention the source?Ask yourself this question and you will know in how much detail you should write thesource: "If your audience wanted to check your data with the source, can they do thateasily." If no, then re-write the source to make it easier to verify.Remember, you trust yourself more than others trust you. You are honest does not meanyou will not furnish the source of your data. [Click here to read the original blog post] Page 26 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  27. 27. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsTip #11: Chart ColoursWhile we are talking about chart colours, I can see many eyebrows rising. "We make formalpresentations and all this colouring has no place in our company. Lets talk data."This post is not about how to make your chart colourful and get noticed. This post is abouthow to balance the colours on a slide so that chart colours become invisible.The way I look at colours is:"Colour is that ingredient of your dish (chart) which does not have a taste of its own. Itenhances the taste of the dish without getting noticed. If the colour of your chart is gettingnoticed, you have failed."The role of colour is thus two-fold:1. It has to make the job of audience easy to read the chart2. It should not distract and draw attention towards itself Example 11.1: Look at this chart from the presentation of the FMCG major, Emami Limited. Do you even feel like reading the chart? Would you be proud of presenting this chart?How many colours should your chart have?To colour a chart you need to take care of many things. It is not only the colour of the bar orline graph. You need to consider the following four:1. Colour of the bar/line graph2. Colour of the plot area3. Colour of the chart area, and4. Colour of the slide. Page 27 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  28. 28. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About Presentations Look at this image. When I talk about chart colour I am talking about the colour of these 4 elements (slide, plot area, chart area and bar/line). The colour of your bar cannot be seen in isolation from the colours around it.Steps in colouring a chartStep – 1: You start by taking the slide background colour as given. You do not decide theslide background colour after creating the chart. Hence, if your background colour is whitethen you have to start from that point. It is always better to have a white slide backgroundcolour.Step – 2: Merge the Chart Area, Plot Area and the Slide Background. If the slide backgroundis white, make the other two white as well. To change the colour of the chart area, click onthe chart area and choose white colour from ‘Format -> Shape Fill’.Step – 3: You now have to choose the colour of bar/line graphs from the five types on theleft (see image below).It is better to use solid colours for the bar graph which provides good contrast with thebackground colour. Using gradients and images will reduce visibility.If your chart has more than one data series (sales & profit) then you have to differentiatebetween the bar graphs representing these data series. You can use shades of the samecolour (light and dark blue) if there are two data series. If you have more than two dataseries use multi colour bar graphs. Page 28 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  29. 29. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsSummary1. The fewer the number of colours you use, the better your chart becomes.2. Do not do anything that draws attention of your audience towards the colour of thechart.3. Stay away from gradients, flashy colours and using images in your bars. They reduce thevisibility of your chart.[Click here to read the detailed blog post] Page 29 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  30. 30. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsTip #12: Chart AnimationBy animating a chart we mean animating that line graphs or bar graphs of the chart.Animation would make each data point or series of data points come one after the other,with a clear purpose.When to use animation and why?Animation is a powerful tool. It brings your presentation to life. When slides after slides arestatic, animation comes in to break the monotony. It draws the attention of the audienceand gets your point across very effectively. You should use animation when:1. You want to draw the audience attention to an important point2. You want to share information in a phased manner3. When you have too much information to present in a chart, it is better to animate andpresent in a sequence.How to animate a chart?We will understand chart animation with the help of an example.Example 12.1: You, the CEO of Red Soaps, is presenting at a press conference ahead of yourIPO (new share issue to public). Because your soap brand (Red No. 1) is not advertised it isnot popular in the media. Your charts key message is that your brand is much bigger thanthe 4 more popular soap brands in the market. These four brands regularly advertise andare more popular than Red No. 1. How do you draw the attention of the public who aregoing to give you $100mn if your presentation impresses them? Here is your chart. You can present this chart at once and make the point; "You know these big brands. But did you know we are bigger than them?" A better approach: Create a story. Animate the five bar graphs (animation effect: wipe from bottom) and ask the audience to guess the turnover of each brand. After they guess for one brand, you animate and show whether they were right. At the last, when your brands bar goes past all these popularbrands, your audience will get the message loud and clear. They will remember thisanimation and will also remember the message. Page 30 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  31. 31. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsStep 1: Right click on your chart -> Edit Data -> Arrange the series in ascending order ofsales. (Your source data has to be in the ascending order)Step 2: Click on the chart to select it -> Animations Tab (in version 2007) -> CustomAnimation -> Add Effect -> Entrance -> WipeStep 3: In Custom Animation -> Make Direction from Bottom -> Speed Fast -> Start On ClickStep 4: Drop down menu -> Effect Options -> Chart Animation Tab -> Group Chart ByCategory -> Do not Start animation by drawing the backgroundThe result: In slide show mode, the axes and title would be present. Your bar graphs willcome one by one mouse click.How to avoid animation misuse?Animation is a special effect which works when used very few times. Then only it breaksthe monotony and draws audience attention. Do not do the following:i. Do not animate every possible chart in your presentationii. Do not use wrong effects (line graph coming as wipe from bottom, horizontal bar comingas wipe from left)iii. Do not use wild & weird effects. Use simple effects like fade, zoom, wipe, ascend,descend, expand, compress, etc.iv. Do not use more than 1 type of effect in a chart. Every sub-part of pie should come asfade in. Do not make one part zoom in, another zoom out and the third fade.If used prudently, animation can become the secret weapon that will give yourpresentation an undue advantage over others.[Click here if you wish to read the complete blog post] Page 31 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  32. 32. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsTip #13: HighlightingTo highlight (verb) means to make something more prominent. It is different from the nounhighlight which means the most important part. We are concerned with the verb form here.What do you highlight?You highlight a data point or a data series or a relation between two data points (or series).When do you highlight something important?By definition, you highlight something that you want to make prominent. It is not alreadyconspicuous (obvious to the eye). Some instances when you highlight are:i. You highlight to point out the change in values of a variable (a growth in sales over time).By looking at the graph, the growth is obvious but the percentage is not.ii. You highlight to give a reason for change in values of a variable (a sudden fall in sales, adip in share prices). The reason is not captured in the graph and hence needs to beseparately mentioned.iii. You highlight to make something stand out. Something that is already there but as part ofa crowd. Like your companys sales graph when compared to 9 other companies.iv. You highlight to bring out the relationship between two variables. You have plotted sales& profit bar graphs but profit percentage is not captured in the graph. You can highlightthat.Examples Illustrating Instance 1 & 2: Chart #1 shows the sales growth of ACC over time. They have highlighted the number 5% which is the change in sales. It is possible that industry was in a bad phase and 5% is something to take consolation from. Remember: Never highlight what puts you in a bad light unnecessarily. Page 32 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  33. 33. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsChart #2 has been taken from FMCG major Dabur. They are showing quarterly revenuegrowth over the last 8 quarters. They are giving a reason (a clarification) that the goodgrowth of 22.1% is not coming majorly from acquisition of another company Fem. Thegrowth is mainly organic (which is a good sign).Examples Illustrating Instance 3 & 4 Chart #3 is from the website of Reliance Industries. Talking about worlds largest refining companies they highlight their own place among 16 other companies by giving their bar a red colour. This is a good way to stand out. In the same chart, they have also marked state- owned companies and made them stand out by giving it another shade of blue. But it does not stand out. They should have used another colour.Chart #4 presents the sales and profits of a hypothetical organization. Profit as a percentageof sales is important to know and has not been captured in the graph. To bring out thisrelationship between sales and profits they add a text; 46% is the 3 year averageprofitability.How do you highlight something important?If you have carefully observed you will notice that colour and shapes are used to highlight.Merely text is not sufficient. In Chart 3, if the RIL bar was given a gradient, the effect will notbe as great. Using colour is better and using red even better as it attracts our eyes the most.You can highlight by:1. Using shapes and colours along with text, and2. Using animation Page 33 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  34. 34. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsAnimation is a medium you should use to highlight something important. In Chart #2, afterhaving presented and discussed the growth rates in sales, the presenter can, on mouse click,circle the 22% and make the attached text appear. Read more on animation in Tip #12.Highlights & Key MessageChart highlight is not the same as key message. While talking about key message wediscussed that key message is the point you are trying to prove with your chart (to readabout key message click here). Highlighting can be a good way of supporting your keymessage.The key message for Dabur in Chart 2 above could be; "We have grown very well over theyears purely due to the efforts that have been put by the company. Contrary to popularbelief it has not come from acquisitions like Fem in 2009-10." The highlight in this casesupports the key message.[Click here to read the original blog post] Page 34 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  35. 35. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsTip #14: Chart AestheticsAesthetics deals with beauty and taste. In our context, chart aesthetics would mean theoverall look and feel of a chart. For an audience to understand and read a chart, they needto like it first. It does not mean that a chart has to be a piece of art. It simply means thechart has to fit in the slide and should not look out of place. It has to be such that youraudience can easily read and remember the chart.Why bother about chart aesthetics?After all you are a serious presenter. It is a presentation in your college or office. And here Iam teaching you aesthetics. So why should you bother? Let me show you two formal charts.Assume that you made these charts. Would you be happy showing these to your boss?Chart #1 (Left – Dabur): Do you think your boss would even like to read this chart?Chart #2 (Right – BILT): Will you ever be able to prove your point when you present a chartlike this? (Notice that each bar has numbers written inside it. A data label which your bosscan never read)Go back to Tip #11 on colour and check out the chart by Emami Limited. Do you thinkpeople would even like to read such a chart? What will they think about you after you havepresented this chart?How to enhance the appeal of your chart in 10 easy steps?Aesthetics is a vast subject and leaving it at a theoretical level will not be good. Here is atechnique you can use to dramatically enhance the aesthetic appeal of your chart in 60seconds.Technique: After you have made your chart, go through these 10 steps (in any order).Follow all the steps and within 60 seconds you will have a dramatically improved chart.Step 1: Remove all the grid lines (major and minor). Page 35 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  36. 36. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsStep 2: Adjust the size of your chart to balance it with other elements on the slide.Step 3: Check for the font size and font colour of axis, chart title and data labels. If you havere-sized your chart, you must re-adjust the font size.Step 4: Merge the colours of the slide, chart area and the plot area. Ensure good contrastbetween colours of the bars/lines with the background colours. Aim for better visibility.Step 5: Make the line graph thicker to enhance visibility and appeal. See Tip #9 to knowhow.Step 6: Change the location of your legend. This will free a lot of space.Step 7: Delete some data labels which you dont need, without causing a loss of information.This reduces a lot of clutter.Step 8: Club your axis title with your chart title. Instead of writing In 000 tons above y-axisyou can always make the title as; Sales (in 000 tons). This will free some more (valuable)real estate.Step 9: Make the axis lines thicker. This gives a good frame of reference to the eyes to viewthe chart.Step 10: Convert your three dimensional chart to a two dimensional one (3D to 2D). Why?Because the extra D spells disaster.If we use these 10 steps on the 1st chart we can get a dramatically better chart. Here is theold chart and the new and improved chart. Page 36 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  37. 37. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsIf you find any problem in applying these ten steps you can check out the detailed step-by-step explanation on the blog here.RememberYour chart will be read only if it appeals to the eye. You dont need a piece of art. But thatdoes not mean that your chart totally ignores basic design principles. Every presenter is adesigner and its time you stood up and took notice.[Click here to read the detailed post which will explain the entire ten steps above asapplicable to the makeover example] Page 37 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  38. 38. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About PresentationsWhat Next?To continue to learn more about presenting charts, you can do four things.1. Extra Effort: The next time you are going to make a chart, spend some extra time thinkingabout the four areas (key message, chart need, chart type and chart design).2. Develop Basic Charting Skills: Develop your basics through practice. Know how to playwith excel charts. If you get stuck refrain from calling your colleague. Solve it with help fromyour inbuilt software and from Google search.3. Learn from Others: Download and watch investor presentations of large multinationalcompanies from their website. Visit slideshare and check out the most voted presentationsin your area of interest. Every time you see a chart, stop and ask why you like or hate it?Seek help and feedback from others. After a presentation, you can always ask yourcolleagues on how they liked the charts. Were they able to understand it easily or wassomething missing? People will always share candidly. You just need to ask.4. Take Interest and Discuss: Follow a presentation blog (like my All About Presentations)which writes about charts regularly. Start a conversation to try and understand what isbeing said and why.Best of luck on your journey to make better charts. Be rest assured that that you are notalone. You will always find a co-traveller in me. Ask your friends and colleagues to also joinin the fun. See you on the blog! www.allaboutpresentations.com Page 38 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com
  39. 39. E-Book: 14 Tips to Present Awesome Charts All About Presentations Disclaimer: All the charts that have been taken from corporate websites and investorpresentations have been used for purely academic purposes. The e-book does not intend to comment, in any which way, on the style of working of any organization. Page 39 of 39 www.allaboutpresentations.com