One of the reasons you should use presentation slides is when you have graphs to share. Graphs provide are valuable as people can understand a lot of information from them in a relatively short time.
Just like slides, people invented graphs for a certain goal. To reap most of its benefits, you need to use graphs properly. Moreover, there are common graph mistakes that can destroy your presentation, so you need to avoid them. There are two main types of mistakes you need to avoid to get the best out of your graphs:
- Using graphs when you do not need them. If you can explain and sell your idea without the graph, then do it. If showing the graph will make your point clearer, simpler and stronger, then use them. Otherwise, you will be adding clutter to the presentation and confusing your audience.
- Design mistakes. Most people use exactly the same graphs for slides that they used in written reports or analysis sheets. Building a graph for analysis, a written report or a slide should not be the same. In each case, the graph you need to adapt the graph for properly fitting your need. Accordingly, if you decided to use graphs for your presentation, you will need to adapt them properly. The rest of the post will focus on the design mistakes for your presentation graphs.
Some of the most common graphs mistakes you see in presentations:
- Using the wrong type of graph. Having the wrong type of graph is a true showstopper for your presentation. Check this article for a good background on when to use each type of graph.
- Showing too many variables. Maybe in your study or research, you had to analyze 10 different variables. This does not mean you need to present all of them. Show only variables that make your idea clear to the audience.
- Using axis with big numbers and steps. The bigger numbers on the graph, the more difficult for the audience to understand it. Simplify numbers in the axis and in the overall graph, put a notation whether the numbers are in millions or thousands.
- Showing insignificant results. Graphs only support your point of view if they visually show your conclusion with no question. Regardless of the value or difference in % for the actual results and statistics, the graph needs to give visual results. For example, if you say that there is a high-correlation between two variables, then the plotting points for the two graphs should be moving together clearly.
Just like PowerPoint slides, use graphs in your presentations when you need to. If you avoid the common mistakes above, you break the common practices and stand-out among the crowds.
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