Here’s an example of making simple Tweaks to help your Charts Make Sense.
@clementspio Charts and visuals are there give meaning to your data. If what you show and what you say are not coherent, it’ll leave the audience with more questions than answers. When that happens, they’d be trying to connect the dots themselves, be distracted from what you are saying, or even worse, just turn off totally. Make some tweaks, and communicate your data more effectively! #communication #communicationtips #datastorytelling ♬ Little Things – Tiqta
I’ve got a client that’s preparing for this big annual update to his global team of sales managers.
It’s a pretty info-packed update, with lots of data visuals and insights.
I’d like to share an example of a particular chart which we worked on.
Of course, I can’t share the exact one from his deck, but here’s a copy with totally made up but similar data.
Now at first glance, if you were in the audience, what do you think the presenter is trying to tell with this visual?
First, For most people, the focus will be on the darker blue bars, which represent the revenue in 2023. And I will notice that it’s arrange by the countries with the highest to lowest revenue from left to right.
Second, most people will also focus on the 2 countries with strikingly larger revenue bars then the others. The takeaway will be – the 2 countries Singapore and Indoneia have done really well.
If this chart was shown to highlight any of these 2 takeaways, then it would have been clear, relevant, and served its purpose.
But it turns out, the point my client wanted to make by showing this visual was neither of those!
Instead, he wanted to
- highlight the countries that had done well in 2023,
- especially those that had done better in 2023 than in 2022.
That point didn’t pop out at all in this visual, did it?
So, let’s improve it.
First, if the intent is to compare data from an earlier time, then always remember – most of us interpret information from left to right.
Which means that, for example, when we look at the Singapore data in original chart, it may seem that the revenue has increased from left to right.
But when look at the legend, the darker column represents 2023 revenues and the lighter column represents revenues in 2022, which means that it’s actually a decrease!
Why was the chart generated this way in the first place?
Well, it’s probably just how the original data in the table was presented – 2023 on the left and 2022 on the right.
So yes, to bring out the point number 2 my client wants to make, a simple tweak will be to change the position of the bars.
Does the chart make sense now?
What about the Point Number 1?
Now obviously Singapore is not the highlight, but in this chart, it sticks out.
Also, for the countries with smaller markets, the audience can’t really see, at a glance, if the revenues have increased or decreased.
A simple fix?
Grey out the parts that you don’t want to focus on.
Now, it’s visually clear which markets have done better in 2023 than in 2022.
This graph now fully supports the points that the presenter wants to make, and he can focus his takeaways on the relevant audience.
If what you show, and what you say are not coherent, it’ll leave the audience with more questions than answers.
When that happens, they will be trying to connect the dots themselves, be distracted from what you are saying, or even worse, just turn off totally.
These are little mistakes we can learn from, which are some simple tweaks and help Your Charts Are Going to Make More Sense.
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