PRESENT TO SUCCEED LESSONS LEARNED

How to Present Dense Data Visualisations with Ann Emery

PRESENT TO SUCCEED LESSONS LEARNED

How to Present Dense Data Visualisations with Ann Emery

Most people tend to cringe at the sight of giant Excel sheets crammed with numbers only. It’s just hard for us to process numbers. However, with the help of tools like PowerPoint, even the largest Excel sheet of data can turn into super digestible visuals, and this is exactly what Present to Succeed 2022 speaker Ann Emery talked us through. 

Depict Data Studio Founder, Ann Emery does data visualisation for a living and she does it so well even the strongest chart opponents would get the urge to make one. Let’s quickly go through her tips on how to present data in a simple way and without losing your audience. 

Make the final slide first

But what does that mean? Ann says that having a specific chart broken up over multiple slides is a good way to pace the presentation and help the audience engage better with the content. The process goes as follows:

1. Create the chart in PowerPoint or copy it from Excel directly, so you can edit it later. Make sure it has all the data in it and it looks just the way you planned. It has to be the finished, polished, final graphic you’ll be presenting to your audience.

Create the final chart first

2. Next up. When you created the storyboard for the presentation (you did that one, right?), you came up with a plan how the presentation would unfold for your audience, which elements will come first, second, etc. Now create a series of slides, each describing these stages. Copy the final chart (see step 1) and paste it onto each of those slides.  

3. Start deleting and covering up the elements which you won’t need for the beginning of your presentation… 

Hiding elements on a chart

so you end up with the slide your audience will see first. In Ann’s case, it looks like this: 

Initial slides

Watch the recording for Ann’s tips on how to mask different chart data points. 

4. Repeat the same steps on each of the following slides. As you add more data points to the chart, it will start to take the intended shape.  

5. Slide by slide, you’ll have reached your destination. The good news is you already have the final slide! 

Ann doesn’t suggest you shouldn’t use animation to populate the chart with data points. Nothing wrong with it! But her method will help you plan how the presentation would unroll and which slices of data you need your audience to be introduced to first. Plus, Ann says, it will be easier for you to control the pace and keep the connection between what you’re saying and what the audience is seeing. 

More tips for better data visualisation 

1. Use generous spacing to tidy up your slides and help the viewer perceive categories better. This will also allow you to employ larger font sizes, like 18 and above, to facilitate reading from mobile (who doesn’t join a meeting from their phone every now and then).

2. Try to remove all the details that you can go without. For instance, you can delete the legends and use direct labelling right next to the data categories and colour code them to enhance the connection between labels and data points.

3. Make the most of what you have at your disposal, like using the everyday software that you use. The point is to work with what you feel comfortable with and what your audience will know.

Watch the whole session for more of Ann’s tips on how to create the data viz slides as quickly as possible or how to deliver data presentations so that you don’t lose your audience.  

Psst! Our own free ebook PowerPoint Tips & Tricks is available here. 

There’s a lot to learn from all the speakers on the Design panel at Present to Succeed, so why not consider getting the whole track recordings? If you design presentations professionally or want to become a pro, get your ticket for the Present to Succeed conference in April 2023.  

Join Present to Succeed - the biggest presentation skills conference in the world

Whether you are part of an organization or running a business, how your slides look will always factor in your success. Learn how to become an influential speaker by joining our 20+ industry-leading speakers’ sessions.

Start engaging your audience better and influencing them to embrace your concepts, hire you, or buy your products. Now is the best moment to get your ticket!

Join Present to Succeed - the biggest presentation skills conference in the world

Whether you are part of an organisation or running a business, how your slides look will always factor in your success. Learn how to become an influential speaker by joining our 20+ industry-leading speakers’ sessions.

Start engaging your audience better and learn how to influence them to embrace your concepts, hire you, or buy your products. Get your ticket now!