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Great Presentations Are Your Best Calling Cards

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on March 22, 2010

Powerful visual presentations with great charts and graphics can make all the difference. They are critical to winning new business. They reinforce your brand and build your reputation.

Visuals can be more compelling and memorable than words. An effective chart can drive home to decisionmakers the breadth and depth of your customer base, your leading performance records, and the competitive growth outlook for your company. Yet often charts and graphics are confusing, misleading, and underutilized.

How do you make a professional and polished presentation when you have limited time and resources? Here are some ideas for making your graphics persuasive and effective:

• Choose the right chart form for the data. Use lines for trends, vertical bars for discrete quantities, horizontal bars for ranking, and pies for shares of the whole.

• One chart, one story. Don’t throw everything you know into one graphic. Stay on point and tell a clear, crisp message.

• Admit colors into your charts gracefully. Use as few colors as possible to get your message across. A change in color signifies a change in information.

• Pies: limit the slices to no more than five. Always start the biggest slice at 12 o’clock.

• Put numbers into context. Numbers that are important to your business may not be apparent to your audience. For example, $10 million is arbitrary. It can be 85% of the total or a mere 1% of the market. Context makes the difference. Help people see your company in a new light by showing results against your competitors or compared to prior years.

Always focus on the meat, rather than the sizzle. Every presentation is an opportunity to engage and connect with your audience and leave a lasting impression.

Dona Wong
Strategy Director, Information Graphics
New York

Reader Comments

Prof.P.Madhu Sudana Rao &Mulgeta damie

March 23, 2010 5:01 AM

I n the present days of globalisation.liberalisation and privatisation, many innovative and electronic items are being manufactured,with more and more consumer and user friendly accessories,and features.There is need for a business analyst in any organisation to explain the buyers about how their product is superior to the products of rival companies.For this purpose,he should go in for deep and analytical study and present to the prospective and existing customers in a most convincing and logical way.Then only consumers can understand how the product is superior.The analyst must have good communicative skills,logical way of presentation,convincing and pleasing personality.

Jo Krukowski

March 23, 2010 11:32 AM

I just finished reading Dona’s new book, The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics (Norton) and it has even more useful tips. It’s a great guide for using color, lines, and design to create the perfect visual for conveying data—and its principles apply across the board for websites, documents, and presentations. Dona’s book will definitely help my work stand out at the next board meeting.

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