How to select and create an effective visual for your business presentation

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Why do so many business professionals only use bullet point slides and the standard simple graphs in their PowerPoint presentations? This slide deck explains the four reasons why this is the case for many professionals. It shares an approach that works for people like analysts, accountants, engineers, and technical experts who don’t want to become designers just to create effective presentations.

Published in: Business, Technology

How to select and create an effective visual for your business presentation

  1. 1. Why is it so difficult for most business professionals to break away from the standard bullet point lists and basic graphs in their presentations? I think there are four main reasons.
  2. 2. Second, they don’t have a process to use when selecting a visual. They often ask, “Which visual should I use?”
  3. 3. Finally, they think they need to be a designer or graphic artist to create effective visuals.
  4. 4. You don’t need to be an artist What you do need is: 1. A process that you can follow 2. A library of visuals to select from, and 3. The skills to create the visuals using the tools you already use.
  5. 5. How do I know this will work? Because it has worked for me. My name is Dave Paradi, and I am a presentation expert. I have authored seven books and I am one of only thirteen people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the PowerPoint Most Valuable Professional Award. I don’t have a design background. I have a degree in Chemical Engineering and an MBA.
  6. 6. Over the last 15 years I have figured out how business professionals like you and I can create effective visuals for our presentations. They may not be as fancy as a high end designer, but they effectively communicate the important messages we are presenting. And that is what matters most. Let me share what I have learned.
  7. 7. Here is the process I use. Have a Clear Message Select Message Category Select the Visual Create the Visual Let’s start with the first step.
  8. 8. You must be clear on the message you want the audience to understand from this slide. Without clarity, the next steps won’t work. Write a headline for the slide, like a newspaper writes a headline for an article. Keep it to one single message. If you have multiple messages, create multiple slides.
  9. 9. Now comes the tough part for most business professionals. Selecting the visual. I start by selecting which category of message I am communicating.
  10. 10. Here are the six categories of visuals that I use (with some sub-categories): $62K 56% A relationship between numbers/value/size A relationship of sequence A relationship over time A relationship between entities A person, place, or object An example Sub-categories for numbers/value/size: • Comparing values to a desired state • Comparing values to each other • Showing components of a total/whole • Showing a trend
  11. 11. Use the previous breakdown to determine which category your message falls into. Now I’ll show you some visuals for each category and some tips on creating those visuals.
  12. 12. Examples of visuals that communicate comparing values to a desired state
  13. 13. Tips & techniques for creating visuals that communicate comparing values to a desired state A dashed line on a graph is easier to understand than columns or bars side-by-side. Graphs can be created in Excel or PowerPoint (if you use Excel, sign up to receive my e-book on presenting Excel data to executives). If you are using a stoplight dashboard, add a letter to indicate the color to help color blind people understand the visual.
  14. 14. Examples of visuals that communicate comparing values to each other
  15. 15. Tips & techniques for creating visuals that communicate comparing values to each other You can create graphs in Excel or PowerPoint. To create a graph in PowerPoint, watch this video. To clean up the default graph in Excel or PowerPoint, watch this video. To create proportional shape comparisons, use this calculator to determine how big each shape should be. A bullet graph (the bottom right visual on the previous slide), is a clustered column graph with the column in front set to appear on a second axis.
  16. 16. Examples of visuals that communicate showing components of a total/whole
  17. 17. Tips & techniques for creating visuals that show components of a total/whole A waterfall graph is a stacked column graph that has one segment invisible. For tips on creating this visual and making the calculations easier, use this calculator. A diverging stacked bar chart (the lower left visual on the previous slide) allows the viewer to compare the relative size of two groups of related data. This calculator helps you create this type of visual. Treemaps (the lower right visual on the previous slide) are an alternative to pie charts. This calculator will make sizing the rectangles easier.
  18. 18. Examples of visuals that communicate showing a trend
  19. 19. Tips & techniques for creating visuals that show a trend A line graph is a much better choice than a stacked column graph for showing the trend of multiple related data series. Add text box labels for each line in the same color as the line instead of using the legend. A dual axis graph should only be used to show the correlation (or lack of correlation) between related data series. It should not be used to put unrelated data together to save space. Use another slide if there are two messages to communicate.
  20. 20. Examples of visuals that communicate a relationship of sequence
  21. 21. Tips & techniques for creating visuals that communicate a relationship of sequence In almost all cases, it is easier to draw a diagram using the shape tools in PowerPoint instead of the SmartArt tool. It creates a more flexible diagram that is exactly what you wanted to create. To make objects on the slide perfectly align with each other, use the technique in this video. The Shift key is a great time saver. Hold it while drawing a line to keep it perfectly horizontal or vertical. Hold it while drawing an oval to keep it a circle and while drawing a rectangle to keep it a square. Hold it while rotating a shape to get it a multiple of 90 degrees.
  22. 22. Examples of visuals that communicate a relationship over time
  23. 23. Tips & techniques for creating visuals that communicate a relationship over time To quickly create an evenly spaced timeline, use the technique shown in this video. When using side-by-side graphs, make sure they are the same size so that the comparison is valid. An easy way to create a calendar visual is to insert a table in PowerPoint. Add labels for the days, months or date numbers as needed.
  24. 24. Examples of visuals that communicate a relationship between entities
  25. 25. Tips & techniques for creating visuals that communicate a relationship between entities When using a table to show a relationship, use the left column for the criteria, and each of the other columns show how each option/element measures on the criteria. Text slides are in this category. Don’t think that you can only use bullet point text. Use text points separated by space, text in shapes, and text in columns. This video shows some text formatting techniques. Hierarchical diagrams are best created using the drawing shapes and text boxes in PowerPoint. It is a more flexible approach than the SmartArt tool.
  26. 26. Examples of visuals that communicate a person, place, or object
  27. 27. Tips & techniques for creating visuals that communicate a person, place, or object When using a screen capture or any image, crop the portions that are not important for your message. This keeps the audience focused on the point you want them to remember from this visual. To place text on top of an image and have it easily seen, add an outline and glow to the text in a contrasting color (ie. white text with a black outline). Use the snapshot tool in Acrobat to copy images from PDF files. This video shows how. This video shows two screen capture techniques in Windows.
  28. 28. Examples of visuals that communicate an example
  29. 29. Tips & techniques for creating visuals that communicate an example To highlight text in a quote, use the technique in this video. When using audio or video clips, make sure they are short (30 seconds or less), of good quality, and are edited to only provide support for the one point you are making on this slide. Case studies should have four parts: the problem that was faced, what it was costing, the solution that was implemented, and what benefit the solution brought.
  30. 30. Hopefully I just increased your visual inventory with the examples in the previous slides. You also have tips for creating these visuals and links to videos or other resources to help when creating the visuals.
  31. 31. Update May 2015: Since creating this SlideShare, I have further developed all of these ideas and they are the basis for my new book, Select Effective Visuals: The Business Professional’s Guide to Selecting & Creating Effective Presentation Visuals. Learn more on my website here.
  32. 32. ©2014 Dave Paradi Thanks for viewing this slide deck. Share it with others on social media, like it on SlideShare, and use it to improve your presentations.

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