How to present statistics clearly and cleverly in a presentation
In this day and age there are quite a number of tools at our fingertips when it comes to visualising statistics in our presentations. Some of these are online tools, others are contained within the software we use every day, such as MS Excel and PowerPoint.
Before we even think about how we are going to present our findings we need to determine who our target audience is. What do they know? What do they want to know?
Secondly, keep in mind what it is you are trying to get across. Try to work the data into a story, make sure it is relevant to your audience, it needs to catch their attention quickly, and it must be easily understood with no room for misinterpretation.
Remember that a picture is worth a thousand words, graphics attract the eye, and they can simplify complex information.
Tables are a great way of minimising data, when you have reams of data you need to extract the most significant variables that are important to the story you are telling. A well designed table will usually include a title, column headers, row tubs, footnotes and a source line at the bottom of the table. It is important to set out the table in a way in which key information can be easily seen. Formatting tip: values should be right-aligned and displayed with one decimal place.
Statistics can be more easily understood when they are presented in a chart as opposed to a table; examples include bar charts, pie charts, line charts, etc. A great chart will grab the audience’s attention; the information will be clear and not ambiguous.Formatting tip: Sort your data from smallest to largest values so that they are easier to compare.
Maps are powerful instruments that can help people identify and highlight distributions and patterns that might not be apparent in tables and charts. Formatting tip: Keep it simple.
Online tools available currently to assist with data visualisation include Piktochart, Tableau, Exhibit, May Eyes, and Visual.ly just to mention a few.
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Ref: Making Data Meaningful, Part 2, A guide to presenting statics, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.