Friday, September 29, 2006

When a Graph is better than a Table

In working on a presentation for a client this week I realized again the importance of using PowerPoint slides as a visual support for your message. In this case, the original slide that the executive had was a table of figures showing revenue growth over five years. It was factually accurate, but did little to convey the message strongly. I converted the data to a graph, just a simple bar graph, and the message of strong revenue growth leapt off the slide. By making a simple shift to recognize the power of a picture, we were able to improve the message immensely. The lesson here is to examine the tables you are using in your slides. Does the message jump out, or is it lost in the lines and numbers. If you are using a laser pointer to wave it over the numbers in the vain hope that the audience can see which figure you are pointing to, trust me, they have no clue what you are trying to say. The key points must stand out. Try using a message title, callout devices for the key numbers or changing the color of the box the key figures are in. This way, a table can deliver a message. Even better many times - see if the figures in the table can be represented graphically so that "a picture can tell a thousand words."


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