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Whenever possible, express data in terms of visual, graphical terms, rather than numerically. Converting your data into a chart will help your audience understand what they're looking at much faster, which means they will have more time to listen to your message. As you create your chart, consider the message from Chapter 2's Reducing the Text video. Keep things short and simple. Provide handouts for the details. For example, your annual budget could show four quarters instead of all 12 months, or you can group a dozen line items into just a few categories.
Our sales presentation has a table that would make a perfect example. We will head down to Slide #14, Quarterly Sales. We have monthly numbers for each product's revenue, but this level of detail isn't necessary for a presentation like this. So, one improvement would be to sum the three months into a single column. I will click on the table and from the Table tools>Layout menu, choose Insert Right. With my new column, I will add these numbers up. We will call it Quarter 2 (Q2).
it very clear that our R-9000 product is taking off and beating the other products by revenue. In fact, with our new column, let's go ahead and just delete the three that we no longer need. I will use my mouse and select the three columns and from the Table tools Layout tab, choose Delete, then Delete Columns. Much cleaner! But let's go further and turn this into a chart. From the ribbon, I will click on Insert, pull down the Chart menu, and choose a chart appropriate for the kind of content I have.
In this case, I will choose a Column chart. With Excel open, I will copy and paste the data from my original table right into the spreadsheet. I will click into the table, select everything there, hit Ctrl+C to copy, return to Excel, and Ctrl+V to paste. I am not worried about the formatting, but I do need to drag the lower right corner of the range to match. I can glance over to PowerPoint and see that my chart is there with the correct values and labels for each column.
Let's go ahead and close Excel. Now that I have my new chart, I think I can delete the table completely. Again, we can provide this data in a handout if we want our audience to have it. Note that when I delete the table, the original text placeholder appears. We can leave it there; it won't show to the audience when you run in full screen. But if it bothers us, we can go to the Home tab and pull down the Layout menu and choose just Title Only. This eliminates the other placeholder. Now it's just a matter of making my chart look great.
I'll start by eliminating things that are redundant like the Legend and Title. A simple click and the Delete key will get rid of them. I should resize my chart object. That way it doesn't hit the title or the background. At this point, I could make it wider or narrower and if I adjust the axis, I will reduce quite a bit of clutter. Let me right-click on these numbers here and choose Format Axis. We will move the window aside so you can see the effect.
I will change the Maximum Unit to just 4 million. I will click Fixed in the major unit and make sure that Excel uses exactly 1 million as the mark. Now normally, we want things nice and big for audience to see, but this font is so large it's making my text go diagonal. With my entire chart selected, I will click on the Reduce Font Size button a few times to make things fit. Note that if I want to make my dollars a little bit bigger, I can click just on the axis and make them larger.
In fact, I can adjust everything individually if I feel like it. To further reduce the clutter, let's get rid of the horizontal lines that appear in the background. Again, I'll click my chart, go to the Chart tools Layout tab, pull down gridlines, and under the Primary Horizontal Gridlines, choose None. The last thing I want to do is modify the color. I would like each column to be its own color. So I'll right-click on a column and choose Format Data Series.
From here, I will click on Fill and choose Vary colors by point. You can see that the chart now shows the same colors that we have in our palette. I will click Close and the last thing I am going to do is make sure that my chart is centered on the screen. I will click the entire chart boundary, return to the Format tab, pull down the Alignment menu, and choose Align Center. Let's see how this looks full screen with Shift+F5. I think I will adjust it down just a little bit. I will click on the Chart boundary and drag the chart down just a little bit, and there is the finished product.
We are going to save those balloons for a little bit later. One of the reasons we spend so much time exchanging tables for charts is that we want the audience to spend more of their time listening to the speaker. The easier our slide is to comprehend, the more time they have to pay attention. And remember, if the data isn't absolutely essential for your presentation goals, get rid of it. In the next video, we will take the numbers of our slide show a step further and see if we can make them even more powerful by adding meaning.
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