documents on wooden surface

Characteristics of Effective Data Visuals

Effective data visuals in our presentations will help to drive our message and findings across easily.

But in our world awash with graphs, charts, tables and many many words, how can we improve our visuals quickly and impactfully?

Here’s a guide by Junk Charts:

Good Data Visuals - The Junk Chart Trifecta Checkup
Trifecta Checkup

Good Question – Does it Hook the Audience?

This usually appears in the Title of the visual.

Think of it like the title of a website. You are looking for information and your web search results lead you to a dozen possible websites with possible answers. Which one do you click on?

The one that most likely answers the questions you have.

So yes, it’s the same for data visuals.

Your stakeholders are expecting an answer from your presentation. Make that answer clear in the title.

Even better, make the insight obvious! Give them the answer to their questions before explaining how your data supports the insight.

This not only hooks the stakeholders but also helps them stay attentive and focused on what you are about to tell them.

Good Visuals – Can the Audience Understand in 5 Seconds?

If you’re using “standard” charts, there’s a good chance the audience knows what to look out for.

Make it easier for them!

Line charts? The supporting trendline should pop out.
Pie charts? The segment(s) of interest should be clear.
Tables / Heatmaps? Highlight only the relevant cells.

So what if your data is really complex and “simple” visuals don’t do justice to bringing out the conclusion?

Then it’s your job as a presenter to guide the audience through your visuals – the concept behind the visual, how the data is arranged, how to read, and how the insights are gathered.

In any case, the basic design principles apply:

  • Big and clear
  • Ample breathing space
  • Complementary colours
  • Clever use of highlights and contrast

Good Data – Is it Sharp and Relevant?

While it’s very tempting to showcase and to make charts for all the data you’ve worked on, irrelevant data just dilutes the main message entirely.

Less is more.

The simple question to ask is – “Are these data directly related to what the stakeholders want?”

The next question will be – “Are these strong relevant data that can support my conclusions or insights?”

That doesn’t mean that all your hard work with the intermediate data will go to waste. They can still be included in the appendix or extra materials should any of the stakeholders want to delve deeper into your work.

Start Building Effective Data Visuals!

Building effective data visuals can be easy, but there are the usual traps we sometimes fall into.

Check out Junk Charts page for a comprehensive list of visuals that miss out some criteria to have a better idea.

Do also check out our recommendations on how to improve your daily data visuals!

business charts commerce computer

Everyday Data Visualisation

Data Visualisation is such a big part of our lives that sometimes we don’t even notice it.

While PR agencies and media sometimes make beautiful visualisations to get their message across, we may not have the time and effort to design an artful masterpiece in our daily business presentations.

But it doesn’t mean our usual charts, graphs and tables need to be terrible!

They still can be good visualisations.


Here’s some advice by David McCandless, author of Information is Beautiful:

What Makes a Good Data Visualisation?

Data Visualisation by David McCandles

So here’s the simplest checklist on how your data visualisation can fulfil each of the 4 criteria above:

Information – Are there Mistakes in my Data?

This is the simplest. And the most basic.

You already have the data. Just have to make sure that it’s correctly represented in your visuals.

A simple check to see if the visuals are based on cleaned (instead of uncleaned) data, using the most updated datasets, and including necessary citations will help you a lot.

After all, accurate data will ultimately lead to… more accurate insights. 🙂

Story – Will the Insight Catch Attention?

Ah yes, Insights. After all, that’s what all the data analysis work is for right?

But wouldn’t it be a waste if this insight doesn’t… pop?

A simple check on your data visuals

Is my Insight, or my “So What?” immediately clear?

If it’s hidden in the data mess, or even worse, not there at all, then find a way to make it lead from your data and stand out!

Goal – Can The Audience Understand my Data Visualisation in 5 Seconds?

Visuals are supposed to aid understanding. The goal is to have your audience scan through your visuals and have a quick understanding in 5 seconds.

Why 5 seconds? Because that’s the average human attention span now!

So choosing the right visualisation tool that suits your goals is very important.

If you need help, here’s a very helpful resource: The Data Visualisation Catalogue

Visual Form – Is it Pleasing to the Eye?

And finally, while you may not want to hire an artist or scour through stock photos to beautify your visuals,

the best you can to do to is to make sure there’s enough “breathing space”, the colours don’t clash, and the font is professional and legible!

When in doubt, stick to your organisation’s (or PowerPoint’s) default colour palette. 🙂

Hope these help! Now go ace and impress with those charts!

man pointing laptop computer

Don’t Use “If” In Your Pitch

The word “if” is such a simple word.

But when used in a pitch to a client, using “when” is psychologically more impactful!


💡When pitching your solution to the client, replace your “IF”s! 🤑#learningisfun #communication #tiktokclass #salestips #pitching #fyp

♬ BARELY BREATHING – Grant Averill

We work with a lot of sales professionals and what we realise is that this is one of the unconscious self-sabotaging words most of them use.

Consider the 2 phrases:

If the problem happens, our product can help by…”

When the problem happens, our product can help by…”

What “If” means?

If triggers a Yes/No consideration

IF triggers a yes/no condition – it may or may not happen.

The client may or may not need it.

WHEN assumes that the condition will always come true, it’s just a matter of how soon.

This lets the client think deeper about how your product or service can change their lives.

Of course, when the client thinks deeper, more questions may follow and here’s how to tackle any question smartly.

Make this one simple conscious change, and see how your sales results improve.

Check out our Tiktok for more content.

How to Tell Someone You’re Offended

Everyone seems to be easily offended these days.

Yes we’re talking about that slap.

But instead of resorting to violence or having always to give in, we can always communicate our displeasure, professionally:

Before Saying Anything, Control Your Emotions

It may be easier said than done but this is a crucial step.

Confronting the perpetrator while hot-headed will most definitely trigger a defensive response.
And it will only end up with Flight (the perpetrator avoiding you, leaving the problem unsolved), or Fight (well, fight. Or maybe an uncontrolled argument)

Take a deep breath. Set your intent to state your displeasure professionally.
Then confront.

Next, here’s how you can structure what to say:

1. What You’re Offended By

Be objective and specific. Sometimes people don’t know what they’ve done wrong.

Being specific also lets the perpetrator know that it may not be the entire conversation that’s offensive, just certain parts of it.
Be clear in the Ws – When, Where, What, to/at Whom it was directed to.

“Hi. Just now, you mentioned casually to my friend that….”

2. Why You’re Offended

In a firm and rational manner, explain why that action or speech offended you.

This is when the perpetrator might get defensive so no matter how angry you are, refrain from any name calling, insults or even expletives to avoid unwanted escalation.

You want to set things right, not to start a fight.

“I think it’s not a nice thing to say to her because she is very affected by it. So affected that she is now…”

3. Best Course to Rectify

Before things escalate to an argument about something that happened in the past, shift the focus onto the future course of action.

Something reasonable, achievable and meaningful would help.

Taking into account the other party’s ego, likeliness to understand and existing relationship, a reasonable rectification can be a simple apology to an agreement to not commit the same act again.

“I’d appreciate it if you could just apologise to her.”

At the end of the day, the ball is in the perpetrator’s court now.
It’s up to him/her if he/she appreciates your point of view and wants to make things right.
Or maybe take the chance to explain any misunderstandings.

Whatever it is, being firm and showing some empathy is far better than resorting to violence straightaway.
And the world can be a more peaceful place.

pensive ethnic man listening to answer in paper cup phone

Answer Questions Better!

Someone asks you a question. After doing the smart steps, you know what to say and can respond immediately if you want to.
But wait! Here’s how we all answer questions in the “best” way possible so that we can stay on topic, be coherent, and be more relatable:

Yes, it’s all down to a simple Framework!

PREP Framework to Answer Questions

  • Position
  • Reason
  • Example
  • Position

So let’s say, someone asks you a simple question like…

“What’s your opinion on having pineapples on pizzas?”


What’s your answer to the question? State your position immediately.

This is the easiest part if you just want to give a “short answer”.

“Personally I’m ok with having pineapples on pizzas.”

But, you’d want to justify your position. RIght? 😉


Before the audience can even ask “why?”, let them know the reason.

A logical explanation helps give weight and substance to the answer you just gave.

“This is because food cultures change with time and while having fruit on pizza may not be ‘traditional’, it fits well and I like the mix of sweetness on the dish.”


Want to engage your audience further?

Throw in a story, a personal experience, or any narrative example!

In fact, my favourite pizza when I was a kid was the Hawaiian Pizza.

I wasn’t a big fan of fruits and vegetables back then so I remembered my parents would ask for more pineapples on the pizza order so that I would end up eating more fibre in my diet!

I wouldn’t have thought that pineapples on pizza would be out of the ordinary!”


End off your answer by restating and reminding the audience what your answer is, just to.. make your point clear. 🙂

“Hence, I’l ok with having pineapples on pizzas.”

Why Is This a Better Way to Answer Questions?

First of all, giving more than a one-sentence answer helps your audience understand you more.

Furthermore, this structure caters to the left-brainers and right-brainers in your audience –

The Reason satisfies the ones craving logic and rationale.

The Example satisfies the ones looking for more colour in your reply!

Works wonders. Try it, and sound smart every single time. 🙂

crop psychologist taking notes during appointment

The First Thing You Should Do Before You Answer Any Question

Do you jump in to answer straight away whenever a question is thrown at you?

Here’s a smart thing you can do!

It can be almost instinctual to answer any question straight away, especially if it’s an “easy” question to which you already know the answer too.

But what if the question is a little trickier?
Or if it’s one you do not have the answer to?
Or if it’s something you do not want to get wrong?

Here’s what you can do.

#1. Pause and Think

Think before you answer

Does a quick answer make one sound smarter?

The person answering may seem so, but usually, it doesn’t make. a difference if you pause for a little while to think.

In fact, research has shown that silent pauses for up to 3 seconds can show that you are more deliberative and may help with negotiations!

So what can you think about during this period of pause?

  1. What is the question really about?
  2. What does he/she/they want to hear from me?
  3. What are some of my experiences or expertise I have in this domain?

This may help you give you some clarity to choose the better answer.

#2. Ask Questions

If you’re really ‘stuck’, counter-ask a question!

Some of the questions can be

Clarify before Answering

e.g. “Are you asking about the Christopher Nolan series of Batman films? Or the recent Matt Reeves version?”

Asking for Details

e.g. “What about Batman would you like me to talk about?”

Simply Repeating the Original Question

e.g. “You’re asking if I can.. talk about my views regarding the Batman films?”

The answers that you get may help you get some idea on what to talk about!

So yes. The next time you stumble on a tough question, fet not.

Try these little tips, and take your time to give a good answer that justifies your knowledge!

black woman comforting upset friend

Empathy vs Sympathy

Has someone ever poured out their problems to you before?
How did you react?
Was it with Empathy?
Or did you unknowingly show… Sympathy?

Both are forms of showing concern.
But what’s the difference?


Sympathy is often more disconnected. If you show sympathy, you are understanding someone’s situation from your point of view.

For most people, it’s easier to sympathize, as there is rarely a need for a deep emotional connection.

How do you know if you are showing sympathy?

When you

  • Dismiss the negative situation
    “It’s ok…”
  • Try to comfort by highlighting positives
    “On the bright side…”
  • Offer a differing perspective to distract
    “At least…”

Is it wrong to sympathise with someone?

It definitely isn’t.

Especially when you are not directly involved in the conversation,
are not expected to provide emotional comfort,
or are ok with understanding the situation from a purely logical context.


So what about Empathy?

Empathy may not come as easily or naturally to some of us because it’s a 2-step process – to step into one’s shoes & relive the situation, and ask ourselves “how would I feel if I were you?”

However, most of the time, the friend that needs consoling doesn’t need to know how you feel.

Your friend just wants to know that you are there for him/her/them.

A genuine reply like

  • Acknowledging your support / presence
    “I’m here for you…”
  • Appreciating their situation
    “Thank you for opening up to me…”
  • Affirming their feelings
    “If I were you I will also feel the same way…”

may be more comforting and reassuring than any solution or silver lining that you can offer.

All of us have different ways of showing empathy and connecting to our own feelings.

It greatly depends on our personality profiles too.

But hey, it never hurts to empathise more, for deeper personal connections. 🙂

woman behind gold paper

Eyes Communicate Too!

Have you ever felt super frustrated having to speak to someone but he/she just cannot connect to what you are saying?

Well, it might be because you aren’t speaking in their “thinking style”.
Specifically, the VAK (Visual, Auditory or Kinaesthetic style of thinking.

And here’s a simple trick to figuring out how a person really processes the information he/she gets:

Look at their eyes!

If they tend to look up UP while thinking, they are most likely Visualising concepts, images or playing out scenarios in the air.

Use phrases like “Can you see…”, “Imagine”, “Picture this…” or simply being more descriptive to help them visualise your ideas better.

Eyes looking sideways - Auditory
Image by Anemone123 from Pixabay

If they tend to look Sideways, or even tilt their head while thinking / listening to you, they are most likely trying to Hear you better, or recall what has been said or what they have heard previously.

Use phrases like “Hear me out”, “It sounds like…” and being more deliberate in repeating certain phrases, using soundbites or simply, speaking slower. This will help them process your information and understand you better.

Eyes looking down - Kinaesthetic
Image by 坤 张 from Pixabay

Finally, if they tend to look Downwards, these are the emotional people. They are most likely trying to figure out how they Feel (or maybe even talking internally to themselves).

And how do we communicate better with them? Use words like “I feel that”, “You’d be happy to know that “, “My experience is that…”. Using more sensory words to guide their feelings help too. The beautiful thing about communicating with Kinaestethic people is – you’re most likely able to foster a deeper connection with them.

So the next time, do observe your partner’s eyes more when you are speaking to them. You’d be able to find out some traits about them that they may not even be aware of!

Of course, if you’d like to find out more about yourself, a do check out the IEQ9 Personality Tests that we offer.

Also, do follow us on Tiktok for more fun content!

Ditch The Phrase “I’m Not Nervous!”

The first post was about controlling nervousness with one simple trick.

Now, let’s also talk about one common mistake we always make to combat nervousness – tell ourselves we are not.

Ditch this phrase!

As in the video, when you were told to NOT think about a hot pink unicorn, could you?

Most likely, you’d be thinking about the unicorn first, then try to cancel it out!

Why? Because our mind can’t “unthink” something.

So, when you say phrases like “I’m not nervous”, you are actually reinforcing the nervousness first, before trying to cancel it out.

So, Ditch the Phrase!
It’s making things worse!

So, next time, instead of saying “I’m not nervous”, go with positive reinforcements like

“I’m Confident.”
“I’m going to Ace it!”
“It’s going to be Cool.”

Ditch the Phrase "I'm not nervous!" and feel confident

You’re going to feel so much better!

Follow on TikTok for more content!

Control Nervousness with This Simple Trick

Getting on to do something really important but feeling the nervousness?

Increased heartbeat? Cold sweat? Legs shaking?
It’s perfectly normal. 🙂

All these are just symptoms.
And you know what else has similar symptoms?


So, while the symptoms are the same, all you have to do is to

Change the Diagnosis.

It’s a simple mind hack to control nervousness and help you feel so much better and get positively psyched up for your next engagement.

Control nervousness and by re-diagnosing symptoms

Of course, if you want more customised diagnosis of your fears, do consider our Personality Reports or Coaching Sessions. 🙂

Follow on TikTok for more content!