Capping IT Off

Capping IT Off

Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Capgemini Group

Presenting your data

Category : User Experience

Whenever I give a presentation on presentation design I always tell people to be passionate when presenting and to be passionate about the topic. By throwing in your passion the audience will feel that what you are telling really matters, at least it does to you. People sharing something with passion can be an addiction to others.  Whatever your passion is, put it out there. There will be people that love whatever you love.

Do it like Hans Rosling Seeing you on stage, being passionate, will move people and ‘love’ you or love whatever you love. A great example of a passionate presenter is Hans Rosling. Hans is a data addict and he is known for his way of presenting data. Hans shows passion, he’s the one that makes you love what he loves.

Here a presentation of Hans presenting data. According to "You've never seen data presented like this. With the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, statistics guru Hans Rosling debunks myths about the so-called "developing world.".. and I agree and think everyone should see this one, and all of Hans his other presentations.

So here you are with all your data.. what’s next? The project, the quarter or the month (or whatever) is done, and there it is: the results presentation! We probably have been there. Excel sheets are pasted into PowerPoint, graphs are made and the result is a huge deck which everyone has to sit through. One chart after another, and another, and another. One slide after another full with text on data, and data, and data. Even sometimes a text balloon flies in to explain some point in a chart.

When presenting data to a large and diverse group you need to focus on the story, and use the data to support and explain what is happening. In other words you need to reduce. We all know it, we all want it but how do we do it? That’s the question we are focusing on right now.

Graphics & statistics Most of the times when I have to present data, for instance on crime rating in The Netherlands or market share of Capgemini in the world, I build my own charts (instead of letting Power-Point and Excel generate their own graphs). Presenting data should be like eye-candy even if your data and stats show a negative result. The great advantage of building your own chart is that you can really stand out the specific statistic you are talking about.

When you create a graph, you design something that communicates through visual perception. If you can communicate your message clearly, efficiently, and with the desired impact in a simple sentence, that's what you ought to do. If your message requires the precision of a table of numbers and text labels to identify what they are, that's what you ought to use. Never force your audience to use visual perception to interpret a graph.

Round your numbers Data is often, as not always, being shared whenever someone gives a presentation. Often people will copy and paste data straight from Excel straight in PowerPoint, and this gives an incredible sense of accuracy that may not be right. As the presenter you frequently are not completely quite sure whether this number is that detailed, and additionally long unrounded numbers look disturbing and cluttered.

Whenever presenting numbers do it like Steve Jobs always did, round your numbers! The digits behind the comma do not add anything.

Before/after Sample slides made by Garr Reynolds on how data slides should be made more attractive. You mention that the slides he made below does have a lot of empty space within it. (Click to enlarge) 


But wait, there’s more.. Creating empty space within your slide is a simple concept but it's really hard for people to apply. People feel the urge and need to fill up empty areas with more elements. According to Garr Reynolds "one of the biggest mistakes business people make with presentation slides (and documents as well) is going out of their way to seemingly use every centimeter of space on a page, filling it up with text, boxes, clip art, charts, footers, and the ubiquitous company logo".


Using empty space Empty space implies elegance and clarity. This is true with every type of design. The importance of space is in all design. Empty space can convey a feeling of high quality, sophistication, and importance. So yes, empty space has a purpose.

The emptiness is a powerful design element itself. In a slide we can really let an element pop out when there is a lot of emptiness around it. Just look at the slide design above with the syrup 'bottle' on it. This is a sticky slide, the emptiness lets the element pop out. All eyes on the syrup. Put as much of emptiness within your slides, break your one slide with bullet point in more more slides, and guide the viewer's eye. Be aware that every slide you open up next the eye will be naturally drawn to the image first.. and then to the text.

About the author

Arjen van Doezelaar
Arjen van Doezelaar

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