Where is data visualization applicable

Step by step to data visualization in presentations

We live in the age of digital information overload. Credibility and verifiability are important currencies in conveying information. Numbers and facts take on a new meaning, but they often find it difficult to assert themselves against the significantly better performing visual content.

Data visualization is the art of converting connections, relationships and developments that are derived from verifiable data into visual objects so that they can ideally be grasped and understood at first glance. Popular formats are infographics, pie and bar charts or network displays.

But how do you get a meaningful picture from larger amounts of data? In five steps we explain to you what you should pay attention to when creating diagrams, charts and graphics.

Step 1:

The data evaluation

Companies usually have a large amount of data. Be selective in choosing the data you want to communicate. Assess the informational value and the gain in knowledge of the data sets. The same applies to graphics, diagrams and charts as to any other content in a PowerPoint presentation: keep your presentation as short and concise as possible and do not overload it with unnecessary information.

Data is relevant if, for example, you:

  • Show developments that allow predictions for the future.
  • Describe deviations from patterns that indicate trend changes.
  • Make connections clear that were previously unknown.
  • Confirm assumptions that have so far not been proven.

Our tip: If you are not sure whether certain data is important for your presentation, put it in a backup or in an attachment. If a discussion or questions about the topic arise in your presentation, you can fall back on it spontaneously. This shows that you are well prepared and that you have created your presentation very carefully. And be able to focus on the essentials for your recipient.

Step 2:

The message

Data is often multi-dimensional, which makes it complex and difficult to understand. When it comes to data visualization, it is important that you focus on the main insight and make statements simple and clear. But that also means: leave out unnecessary things. A diagram doesn't get any better when it gets more detailed. A key statement does not become more concise if it is supplemented by secondary aspects. When dealing with data, one likes to fall into the trap of following a quasi-scientific claim. But most business presentations are not about science, but about key insights. And they become clearer the more reduced they are worked out.

Our tip: Do you have the feeling that too much information is being lost by reducing it to one message? Then check whether you can process individual aspects separately. Use the possibilities of visual storytelling and combine different data representations into a well-structured reading story.

Step 3:

The target group

Take a close look at the target audience of your presentation and consider how adept the audience is with handling data. Data is considered evidence of certain statements, but it is not uncommon for it to raise new questions. Always state the data source and be prepared for any questions you may have about the survey methodology, period and context.

Be careful not to overwhelm your target audience. Remember, this is the first time your audience will see tables and charts that you have been studying for a long time.

Our tip: take the 15-second rule into account for your data display. Anything that does not lead to an aha moment for your target group during this time is definitely too complicated or complex. Take a test with colleagues and reduce your statement if necessary.

Step 4:

The orientation

When doing data visualization, only apply principles that will help your audience orientate and capture the message. Designing a table with colors because it “looks nicer” is not effective, it can even be confusing. The human brain subconsciously perceives a lot of information and sorts it. There are certain principles of perception that you can use. Give your audience everything they need to understand and easily grasp your portrayal, for example:

  • A clear introduction on the soundtrack
  • A clear heading with the main message of the slide
  • Colors with emotional significance (red = danger, yellow = neutral, green = desired, company color and competitor colors)
  • Compliance with the reading direction (from left to right and clockwise, e.g. according to meaning and proportion in the pie chart)
  • Reduction of labels and accompanying texts to the necessary, avoid repetitions
  • Learned symbols, e.g. B. Female and male symbols or flags
  • Emphasis on important information through size, color, highlighting elements

Step 5: implementation

Only when you know your data and have identified the main message can you determine the type of data that goes with it. It is not the visual attractiveness of a form of representation that is decisive, but its function. Relationships can be represented differently than gradients. Relationships require a different format than proportions. A list of the most common forms of representation and their areas of application can be found here.

When visualizing data, it is essential to consider the corporate design of your company. Unfortunately, PowerPoint masters are often sketchy when it comes to data visualization. That is a shame, because uniformly designed tables and diagrams convey professionalism and underline the credibility of the information. Data representations are an essential part of a brand identity.

If you would like to know how to professionally implement data in PowerPoint in your corporate design, please contact us.

Further information:

Please also note our 5 criteria for successful PowerPoint presentations and follow the OSCAR principle, which is also applicable to data visualization.