Creating the Perfect Research Charts/Slides
Wow, perfection! Quite a challenge. Well, let us soften the objectives to “great” then.
Many of us spend hours crafting charts on PowerPoint slides. We love ‘em don’t we? Getting the perfect data, selecting the right chart type (Who likes pie charts? Who prefers bar charts?), selecting nice pictures (thank you Google), dropping in punchy, or at least slightly punchy commentary. We might even go as far as putting in “so what?” boxes (We like those!).
You may have noticed two schools of thought emerging these days. There are the ‘big picture’ folk, who drop in a very big picture of something pretty (maybe a kitten or a baby?) and a big chunky number, often supersized to make it impactful. We also have the data types – “Gotta have a bar chart, let’s get all the data in there”, but who decorate it with some visuals to soften the pain.
The good news is with chart automation you can prepare data charts very quickly. So most of us spend a disproportionate amount of time on the “prettification” or glamming up. But is that really worth it?
As a side note, we must make it clear that we are largely talking about quant research here.
So aside from the typical “there is no one perfect solution” comment, and recognising one could write a book on this (and others have!), here are some key thoughts on producing clear, effective, shopper research debrief slides and charts:
- Keep it brief – but not too brief!
Show the minimum amount of data to allow the audience to reach the same conclusion as you did. But don’t just show one number, that assumes they will trust your conclusions. However, don’t show extraneous data: if your point is made by a 4 number time series, don’t show 10, just because you can. You are wasting the audience’s precious attention span.
- Keep the slides clear
Don’t be scared to split your information into two sides to make things clearer. At some point, we’ve all been told that one slide is one minute and we had to stick to x number of slides. That’s nonsense. Yes, you want to keep to a time limit, but you need to use the slides to convey the information effectively. A short but confusing presentation is counterproductive.
- Get the layout right
Make the numbers chunky and legible but use at least 1/3 of the slide to make the “take out” points; it’s the take out you need to “land”. We like to put the take out in as the header (why waste key slide real estate on the title of the chart, that can go on the bottom in small font!), and then put the “discussion” in as a text box over the chart (it’s a nice approach to have your take outs running as the slide titles and makes it very easy to follow the story)
- Make it obvious
Decide what comparisons are going to be the critical ones, and mark them out on the slide, a simple arrow or circle works fine. Don’t expect the audience to find the right number on their own quickly just because you are talking about it
- Be careful with colours
Colours need to have a clear meaning. They are useful to label e.g. a line chart or highlight a key point that needs to be seen quickly, but too many colours can backfire.
- Use ‘artistic’ visuals carefully
We are referring here to pictures, which are overused nowadays, but make sure to only include artistic visuals if they add to the message or help convey your point. Don’t add images just to make the chart look pretty. Human psychology is such that the audience’s brains will be distracted by your picture and stop looking at the data and listening to you. This applies particularly to photos of attractive people or animals!
- Compare charts and your presentation
Make sure to put on the chart what you actually want to say. So often we find the presenter saying really important things, none of which are written on the slide. The audience starts splitting their thoughts between what they are looking at and what they are hearing, detracting from your points in both your slide and your presentation. If the two are working together, you are on to a winner.
- Avoid builds
Stay aware of animations, effects and spinning titles unless they are critical. Good builds should be used when you want to convey sequential points that genuinely build upon one another. Bad builds replace what should be two separate slides. How many decks achieve the magic “30 slides” requirement by forcing 3 points onto one slide.
Keep these 8 tips in mind and it should help you to start creating the perfect, or great, research charts. For more information on research charts or Shopper Intelligence, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org