Most presentations are filled with truck loads of data, communicated through slide after slide of mind-numbing bullet points. The likelihood of your audience extracting the significant facts from this data dump is low.
Data is dry and lifeless until you make it come alive.
Enter the infographic.
Wikipedia defines infographics as "graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly." Infographics help an audience better understand complicated data and see patterns and trends. These graphic pictures provide context and tell a story which makes it easier for the audience to find relevance in the information.
The concept of graphically representing complicated information has been around for ages but infographics are currently popular partly perhaps as an antidote to those bullet point-laden slides and partly because of new tools which make them easier than ever to produce.
Here are a few of the tools that will help you create infographics to make your presentations clearer and more memorable:
Easel.ly :: This is a free, web-based app that creates professional-looking graphics. There are a variety of pre-existing themes where you can insert your own text and customize background colors, icons and fonts by dragging and dropping. The tool is easy to use and your infographic can be downloaded as a jpeg or png for your presentation.
Venngage :: Another drag and drop tool with many templates, themes, charts and icons. You can upload data as a CSV to create your chart. The free option only allows for online viewing and sharing while the premium option [currently $19/month] enables you to export as a pdf or png.
Charteo :: This takes the concept of PowerPoint templates to a whole new level. There are over 15,000 slides in this PowerPoint library in a wide variety of charts, graphs, diagrams and tables as well as background images, graphic metaphors, icons and symbols. The slides are 100% editable, including color, and can be downloaded for either Mac or PC. You can purchase an individual slide, an entire presentation or a subscription service.
With any of these tools, it's easy to be seduced with the clever designs and cool bells and whistles. But remember that your primary job is to decide what message, story or pattern you want to communicate with your data and then...and only then...choose the appropriate tool to visualize that data for your audience.
flickr/Proctor Archives C.C. 2.0