• open panel
  • Home
  • Conference Presentations
  • 5 Techniques for Representing Complex Information on Your Presentation Slides… So Your Audience Can Actually Consume It – Part 2

5 Techniques for Representing Complex Information on Your Presentation Slides… So Your Audience Can Actually Consume It – Part 2


For the times when you don’t want to say to your audience, “I know you can’t read this…” consider this approach:

Technique #2

If having no data doesn’t seem appropriate, then ask yourself how can you simplify the information to something you know your audience cares about.

So for instance, let’s say you’re addressing a group of data centers who support small to medium sized businesses.  And you know they care about the fact that Microsoft will stop supporting XP, server 2003 and Office 2003 in 2014.

Now could supply a chart like this one which breaks down by percentage of users who uses the different operating systems.

Better PowerPoint Slides

Let’s say these data centers only support Windows OS, so they don’t really care about the last two column with the Mac and Other statistics.

With less data, you can get your text bigger.

Better PowerPoint Slides with Data

And come to think of it, this data is arranged by size of the population.  Maybe you want to reorder from most recent release to oldest release so that makes more sense.

Better PowerPoint Slides with Data

Then we could draw our audience’s attention to the number they care about with a red circle.

Improving PowerPoint Slides with Stats

Better than where we started.  But we’re not really representing the information graphically.

So maybe instead, we move to a pie chart.  Now here is the default way could represent the data.

Improving PowerPoint slides

Notice how small the print is.  This slide would be torture to read.

With some manipulation, we can enlarge the chart – put the names of the OS next to the information they represent.  As in the slide below.

Improving PowerPoint Pie Charts

Easier to see.

Then for emphasis, maybe we circle the Windows XP as the market segment to go after.

Emphasize what's important on your PowerPoint slides

But what if we pushed ourselves further.  Do we really need to list all the operating systems?  Don’t we really want people to focus on one number?  The 37%.

So what if we did something like this…

We start with this slide and say…Of all the computer users out there…

Better PPT slides

Then click to the next slide and say, it’s estimated that 37% of all users will be impacted by this change.

Way better PowerPoint slides


Technique #2 – Take away data our audience doesn’t care about – see if you can even get it down to just one data point.


Technique #2 ½

So you think, “Does this technique apply to the data you’re communicating?”

If you’re still not sure, let me give you 2 and a half.


For the One Guy Who Just HAS to Have the Numbers

What if you think you could get down to one number or a very few numbers, but you know there’s that one guy in your organization who HAS to have all the details.

Then you might consider combining how you present on the slide with some NON-slide methods.

Maybe you have a handout.

Maybe you offer send out a white paper to anyone who gives you a card or who emails you.

(By the way – if you’re in a sales role, you want to be the one responsible for the follow through so ask them to hand you a card or fill out a form while they’re in the moment – then you take the initiative to follow up.)

Another alternative is to use a QR code right on your slide.

If the venue is small enough, put a QR code on your slide for those who want details.

As long as the venue it’s too big, your audience can scan the QR code from the screen and be directed to a website or a form to provide an email address to get a full report with the details.

(If you scan this QR code, it will take you to my newsletter sign up!)

Two quick notes on this – Not everyone will know how to use a QR code and will be embarrassed to ask.  So explain.

Say something like, “If you’re not familiar with QR codes, you can use them with your smart phone.  Just go to the App Store for your phone, search on QR reader apps – lots of free ones out there – just down load the app and scan the QR code with your phone.  Most often, the QR code will take you to a website and it’s from there they can download your white paper or get a copy of your handout.”

Technique #2 1/2 – Use supplemental materials for those people you just knooooow are going to want the details.