by Adam Noar
Unless you’re numbers oriented, looking at data is very BORING. That’s why it’s your job to make the data not boring!
To help get you on the right path, we are going to cover 5 smart tips on how to present data effectively in your next PowerPoint presentation.
Believe it or not, beyond trying to help people fall in love, Match.com has made us fall in love with their data presentation skills based on their recent ppt survey report, Singles in America, which presents insightful data about singles, dating, and more.
Let’s go through some slides examples from their survey presentation and discuss what they did right!
PowerPoint Data Visualization Tip #1 – Mix and Match
Looking at their slides, we love the way they mixed up their presentation of the data, using numbers on one side and a simple chart on the other. It flows really nicely, and they make sense together, but it mixes up the style just enough to keep you engaged.
Charts can be super helpful – they are great for when you are trying to talk while your audience is looking at the slide. You can use them as a visual aid to complement what you are talking about, instead of the text on the slide competing with the words coming out of your mouth.
Charts are also often a very clear way to present your data because the visual cues are a lot easier to get across. You can use a couple nice colors to make it stand out, and easily compare things like profits across years or responses across different ages. That kind of stuff is hard (and boring) to present using just text.
But not all data is like that. You see in the slide above that they are highlighting numbers from just one group, or results from a single question. This is an excellent example of how to present numbers in an interesting way. It looks great to have the text with the number highlighted by being a bit bigger. Those are some impressive stats, too, which draws the eye right to it – 270% is quite the attention-getter.
But to mix things up on the other side of the slide, they presented the data in a simple donut chart. It’s a really nice visual contrast to the left half of the slide and makes the slide as a whole way more inviting and engaging. Wouldn’t you agree?
As a side note, we also love their overall presentation on the slide here. The text both complements the slide and stands out, and they used one of our tips that we recommend in this article about how to overlay text on an image: the white text on a transparent shape technique. It allows the image to still show, but be more in the background, and really lets the text pop. It is an easy way to use an image that is super relevant, but too busy to put text directly on.
PowerPoint Data Visualization Tip #2 – Avoid the PPT Default Trap
Sure, the PowerPoint default chart is easy. But it is also boring, and you are better than that!
For all the effort you put into creating amazing slides, you do not want to just slap your results into a basic, default chart (with the same tired default color scheme) and be done with it. You want to go beyond the standard PowerPoint chart defaults and look for CREATIVE ways to display your information.
If you look, you will see that there are defaults for everything; there are even PowerPoint presentation templates for surveys. But who wants to present their survey the way everyone else is?
Using the default charts is easy, sure. But it just does not look that great – it takes a little more effort to make them look awesome. Expert presentation designers always find a way to go above and beyond the standard formatting that PowerPoint provides.
Taking a look at our example, notice how the pie charts have their own unique style to them. The minimalist style, with the larger yellow portion representing the results, contrasted against the smaller blue portion, is fantastic and very unique. There is also no data shown on the chart itself, but instead, it is shown in large bold font in the text underneath the chart.
Even when they present the data in the text underneath the pie charts, they keep it simple. They only highlight the important portion, and when they reference the percentage, the font color is the same as the corresponding part of the chart. The minimalist text really complements the overall simple presentation.
We definitely do not mean simple in the way that we refer to the PowerPoint default charts here. For sure, these took some work to make them look this great. The difference here is that the design is purposefully simple and clear, to enhance the presentation and make it easy to scan and get the key takeaways quickly. Ultimately, it is simple for the audience, not for you. But it is so worth it!
Another thing we love is their use of color. Notice how bright and fun the slide looks. They used colors that contrast beautifully (teal and yellowish orange) with the white text, which was an excellent choice. If you love these color choices but are a little confused at how to do that yourself, check out our list of tips on how to pick colors for your PowerPoint presentation.
PowerPoint Data Visualization Tip #3 – Sometimes the Best Chart is No Chart
We know, that seems like kind of a funny tip on a list about how to present data effectively in PowerPoint – your mind kind of automatically jumps to charts and graphs – but just hang in there.
This is a bit of the “less is more” kind of advice. Sometimes all you need is the data highlights and a nice way of presenting them on the slide.
Look at the example slide for this – notice that there is no chart showing the proportions or anything. Really, it’s just a few stacked boxes with some text and numbers. If you’re wondering how to present numbers in PowerPoint, this is it. The background image helps a lot because it relates to their biggest finding, so it is relevant and creates interest.
Also, notice that there are only three data points on the slide. We bet the survey included a lot more answer choices – but who cares? The presentation designer probably ignored those on purpose. But why?
It is likely that they understand their data, they understand their audience, and they know that they just need to focus on the most important findings. Is the audience really going to care if 2% of singles got the best results when they flirted at their local zoo? The audience does not really care about the lower numbers because they want to know what to do and where to go to have the most success. These are the most important results, so those are what are shown on the slide. This is the type of survey results PowerPoint example that shows how you can really edit down the data and make the slide look great.
Do you feel like something is missing from their presentation? We don’t! We get the message, it is easy to read through and understand quickly. This is the information we want to know, we don’t need a complicated bar chart showing the percentage of EVERY option presented in the survey.
Also, as a quick tip, you may notice that the percentage of the three answers adds up to more than 100%. This means that they let their audience choose more than one option, which means it would not work as a pie chart even if you wanted it to.
When you have data like that, where the audience was allowed to choose more than one and your audience really only cares about a portion of the findings, a simple numerical presentation like this is the simplest and most effective.
PowerPoint Data Visualization Tip #4 – Think Outside the Box
We know the phrase “think outside the box” is an overused buzz word but you really should be thinking outside the box and having fun with presenting your data.
Before you go running for the standard bar chart or pie chart, do a little brainstorming to think about some potential ideas of how presenting your data could be a little more UNIQUE.
It is geographical, like the example above? A map is an easy reference point, and it is just as easy to see what they are trying to get across. If your data is about a group of people, try using icons to represent them instead of the bar in the bar chart. There are all sorts of fun ways you can play with your data. Data visualization in PowerPoint doesn’t have to mean graphs! This is a really fun way to turn your survey results into presentations that are interesting and fun.
You can see in our example that it looks so much cooler than something you would see in a typical bar chart. We all know the map of the U.S. pretty well, and we know where we live. It is easy to see where those locations are, and they have them labeled on the right for clarity as well.
Of course, don’t go extreme with it:
We’re not saying you should always avoid charts – sometimes charts are genuinely the best choice for your data. All we are saying is to think about how you can present your data well. This especially applies if you have a ton of data to present (which is sometimes unavoidable) because bar chart after bar chart is going to put your audience to sleep. Experiment with different styles and colors and images to keep it interesting!
PowerPoint Data Visualization Tip #5 – Overlay Data Onto Images
A super cool way to make your data look awesome is to find images that match the topic of your data and overlay your data onto the image. This will immediately cue the audience into what you are talking about, and help them remember it – and of course, it will look great!
Look at the slide for this example. The theme of the slide is communication, so the data is presented over the length of the megaphone image in the background.
This image is even a little more clever than that because it is talking about annoying dating advice. Who is more annoying than that guy with a megaphone, shouting useless cliches about love at you? This checks all the boxes for us.
Of course, creating slides like this takes a bit of effort. You have to find just the right image to work with your data and layout, and there are a lot of factors that go into that. On top of being relevant, it has to be high quality, with enough white space to write on, and not too busy to distract from the information. We know, it is quite a list of demands!
The end results, though, are worth it. If you pull it off, you’ve got an awesome and engaging slide with a clever visual cue sitting in the background. It’s really one of the best ways to present data in PowerPoint.
Presenting data in PowerPoint is fun stuff, right?
Hopefully, after reading this list of some of the best ways to present data in PowerPoint, you agree with us that it can be!
There are definitely a lot of things to keep in mind when you are putting data into your slide, but it is all in the spirit of creating a great presentation: make it beautiful, clear, and interesting.
Data is a part of that, and it is always worth it to put in some time into making sure it fits those criteria.
Here’s my question to you:
How do you feel about presenting numbers in PowerPoint? Do you use the standard bar charts and pie charts, or do you make it all your own? Or do you do a combination of both? Also, do you have any data visualization tips we missed or resources that really help you out? We would love to know what they are! Share them in the comments below.