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Slide Makeover #82: Showing trends as lines, not clustered columns

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When your message is the trend in data, this slide makeover shows how it is better to use a line graph instead of a clustered column graph.

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Slide Makeover #82: Showing trends as lines, not clustered columns

  1. 1. Slide Makeover #82: Showing trends as lines, not clustered columns Based on Dave Paradi’s ideas at www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com
  2. 2. I’ve recently seen a clustered column graph used to show the trend in multiple data series. Here’s what a client slide looked like …
  3. 3. Call volume in five centers 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 Syracuse Lexington Columbus Scranton Wilmington Averagecallsperday Jan Feb Mar Apr May
  4. 4. And here is how the Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada used this type of graph:
  5. 5. A clustered column graph is not a good way to show trends in multiple data series.
  6. 6. Call volume in five centers 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 Syracuse Lexington Columbus Scranton Wilmington Averagecallsperday Jan Feb Mar Apr May Columns force the audience to mentally connect the middle of the columns to see the trend
  7. 7. Call volume in five centers 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 Syracuse Lexington Columbus Scranton Wilmington Averagecallsperday Jan Feb Mar Apr May The sets of columns are spread apart, making it harder to compare between call centers
  8. 8. When your message is a trend in a data series, use a line graph. Draw the line for the audience, don’t make them draw the line between the columns.
  9. 9. When you have multiple data series, use a multiple line graph so it is easy to compare the trends to each other.
  10. 10. Finally, trends should have a time based axis, usually the horizontal axis. Like this …
  11. 11. All call centers have seen increasing volumes this year Syracuse Lexington Columbus Scranton Wilmington 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Averagecallsperday
  12. 12. The trends are easy to see over the five month period of time and it is easy to compare the different call centers because they are close to each other.
  13. 13. This is a standard line graph created in PowerPoint. You can create in Excel just the same way if you’d like. Here are a couple of tips.
  14. 14. All call centers have seen increasing volumes this year Syracuse Lexington Columbus Scranton Wilmington 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Averagecallsperday Place the data on the tick marks instead of between the tick marks so the line takes up the whole width of the graph
  15. 15. All call centers have seen increasing volumes this year Syracuse Lexington Columbus Scranton Wilmington 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Averagecallsperday Replace the legend with data labels on just one of the data points. The last data point works well here, but you can use any data point if that fits better for your graph. This article explains how to do this.
  16. 16. Before After Lessons: 1. Use a line graph instead of a column graph to show a trend 2. Trends should usually have a time based horizontal axis 3. When comparing multiple data series, put the data close to each other so it is easy to compare Quick recap: More makeovers available at www.SlideMakeoverVideos.com
  17. 17. If you would like me to help your team create presentations that have a clear message with focused content and effective visuals, get in touch: P: 905-510-4911 E: Dave@ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com W: www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com

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