Join John McWade for an in-depth discussion in this video Charts and diagrams, part of Learning Graphic Design: Presentations.
- Charts and diagrams are more interesting to some people than others. To an audience of analysts, they might be very important. Your marketing people might find them boring. You use charts and diagrams to portray pure data. They can show structure, movement, relationship, comparison, and trend, to name only a few. Here are some basic guidelines.
There are two common artistic styles that you can use, solids and lines. Pick one and stick with it. Don't change in the middle without a reason. In this case, a change in style show that this item is different from the others. Fine lines and sharp edges convey precision, and are good for technical topics. Perhaps those analysts.
They also can look sophisticated. Be aware that fine lines don't project very well. Rounded corners are softer and generally friendlier. Fat lines are easy to see and understand. Charts can be boring, so it's tempting to dress them up. Resist that temptation. This chart is too plain, but this chart is too fancy.
Beautiful, but much too complicated. The best charts are in the middle. Simple, but attractive too. 3D is dress up. Avoid it. In fact, I'd say never use 3D in a presentation. It adds complexity without adding clarity. Remember that slides are not good at showing complex data. Design slides only for a quick look, like a billboard going by.
You're not making a document that people can examine in detail. This timeline is fine on paper or your computer screen, but for a big room, make the elements bigger. You can even animate them. Use a pie only to show big differences. Your audience will not perceive these small differences. Much better.
Better still. Keep the bars to a minimum. A chart that builds one bar at time can be more detailed than a static chart. That's because each build is a glance, and your audience remains focused on you. This kind of chart is better over three slides instead of one.
Diagrams, of course, are not limited to pies and bars and lines. To show relationships, they can overlap, and radiate, and stack, and move. They can show difference and structure. Many thing.
The thing they all have in common, though, one drawing style, change it only on purpose, and keep it simple.
Good presentations take time and thought. Design is too important to leave to a computer! Use these techniques to make personalized, thoughtful presentations that both educate and inspire.
- Putting data in a story form
- Using a simple background
- Choosing the right typeface
- Incorporating charts, photos, and illustrations
- Connecting emotionally with your audience