How to Make Data Compelling in Your Presentation

by Improve Presentation Last Updated: 2018.08.01 Data Compelling Blog Post Infographics

Data is a buzzword in today’s business environment. From big data and data mining to data analytics and everything in between, data now reigns in an era based on technology sourcing information from each and every angle. The benefits of data are enormous—entire industries have evolved around it—but it can also be a daunting task to make sense of the enormous amount of data we have.

Given data’s prominent role in today’s world, there’s a strong chance your presentation incorporates it in some way. Whether you’re sharing the breakdown of your organization’s profit over the last three years or the conversion rate of your firm’s newsletter, data can be found in many forms. Sharing data with your audience will make your presentation more effective. The key is to present data in an easy-to-understand manner.

Imagine that you’re sharing insight about employees in your current organization. All employees completed the annual survey HR doles out to measure job satisfaction and see ways in which the company can improve, among other matters. While your presentation will focus on sharing the summation of the survey, it would be beneficial to show the data that’s influencing your takeaways.

This doesn’t mean you need to go each individual survey from your company and say, “Well, Sharon from accounting rates her current job satisfaction as a four out of five, while Robert in sales rates his satisfaction at a three.”

Instead, consider presenting the aggregate data in a pie chart, showing the percentage breakdown of total responses. You can tell your audience, “80% of employees responded with a 4 or 5, indicating that they are very to extremely satisfied with their current job.” By both verbally stating and visually displaying the data, you allow both auditory and visual learners to grasp the points. Presenting a point in multiple ways also emphasizes the information as individuals gather it in a variety of ways.

Quantitative data can be arranged in a variety of ways, with each graph or chart lending itself best to different types of data presentation.

Bar graphs (whether horizontally or vertically integrated) can show differences in volume over time. Compare the number of customers in September 2013 to September 2014.

Line graphs can highlight trends over a time period represented on the x-axis. For example, they’re perfect for showing the revenue over the last twelve months.

Pie graphs are best for showing how different segments compare to the whole (think ratios & percentages). Pie graphs can demonstrate what percentage of the organization’s costs came from each department.

Data, while frequently thought of as quantitative, can also be found in a qualitative form. When doing an analysis of your company’s industry’s competitive landscape, you will have both statistics and characteristics. While the size of the market and percentage of market share your firm holds are examples of numbers, you’ll also find yourself with research about overarching trends in your industry. Qualitative data may not fit into a pie chart, but it can still be presented visually to help emphasize your point.

When performing a SWOT analysis, for example, each different element can be analyzed on its own slide with the key points highlighted on the slide. Since we recognize the value of clearly presenting all types of data (including non-numerical information), we even offer a specific template for SWOT analysis.

Qualitative data can extend beyond SWOT analysis. To present other types of qualitative data, remember that clear, concise slides are more effective than slides brimming with too much information. In fact, all our presentation templates are designed to let you use as few words as possible to present your idea.

The key takeaway is that data is everywhere and, as a result, is likely somewhere in your presentation. Use graphs, charts, or other visual depictions to share data with your audience and make your presentation more compelling. A picture—whether a Kodak photo from the company outing or a graphical snapshot of your company’s financial health—is worth a 1,000 words.