Issue #130 March 20, 2007

PowerPoint Tip – Ideas for More Visuals

I have been talking recently to more and more clients about how to get away from text or number filled presentation slides and move towards using visuals to represent the ideas we are sharing. This ranges from sales staff to finance professionals to admin assistants. Today’s tip is a web based resource that can help stimulate your thinking about what visual could represent the point you are making. The web site is a project from some academics who are studying ways to represent concepts visually and it is an interesting site. The specific page I suggest as a resource is at: . This page contains a large number of potential visual ideas organized into categories based on the periodic table of elements (there’s the academic influence showing through). Notice that they have organized the visual methods (as they term them) by color to represent what you are trying to visualize (data, concept, strategy, etc.) and they have added letter colors and symbols to further categorize the methods on the basis of process vs. structure, detail vs. overview and divergent vs. convergent thinking. I know this may seem a little too academic, but stay with me. By rolling your mouse over any of the boxes in the table, you will see a popup example of the visual relating to that method. It is interesting to see some of these examples. There are some common ones like pie charts, line graphs, venn diagrams and timelines. There are also some less common ones such as the data flow diagram, concentric circles, iceberg and performance charting. Almost all I could see being valuable in certain situations. Spend a few minutes rolling your mouse around the page and consider whether each visual you see could be a good idea for an upcoming presentation. What’s missing is a list of best practices for each of these diagrams. My fear when using diagrams or visuals is the tendency to make them too complicated that the audience can’t understand them. That’s why in my ebook “Transforming Text Slides into Visual Slides” I demonstrate 15 of the most common situations you will encounter in business and how to take a normal text slide and create a visual slide from it. The ebook also include a list of best practices for each visual so you know how to create it correctly. You can get your copy from