Video Introduction

Too many presentations of financial results and analysis contain slide after slide of spreadsheets. In this video, I explain why spreadsheets on slides are a problem, the top reasons business professionals put spreadsheets on slides, and a different approach that allows you to communicate your messages visually. (The video is from a live session in May 2019)

Here is a quick summary of the key points in the video:

Many resources for selecting charts use an approach of considering the data or the relationships between the data elements. In a presentation, I think you should choose the chart based on the message you want to communicate.  Since the chart will play such an important role in helping the viewer understand your message, it is important that you are very clear on the message before you select the chart.

One way to become clear about your message is to write a headline that summarizes the point, similar to how newspapers write headline for their articles.  The headline should succinctly explain the importance of the message to the viewer.  This engages the viewer and makes them want to look at the chart and hear your explanation.  If you struggle to write a headline for a slide, you need to consider whether you actually have two messages and need two slides, or whether you don’t really have an important message and should cut that slide from your presentation.

In my experience of analyzing thousands of tables and charts, I have concluded that there are six categories of messages that cover almost every situation business professionals will encounter when presenting numerical information:

  • Trends
  • Comparing Values to a Standard
  • Comparing Values to Each Other
  • Contribution of Segments
  • Rank
  • Portion of a Total.