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# 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
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
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
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
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
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
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