Data is more important than ever. But do you know how to present data? Your audience needs information in a way that’s easy-to-follow. With charts and graphs, data comes to life.
In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to present data. The intuitive presentation of data and information is essential so that your point comes across. With our tips, we’ll help you take flat data tables and convert them to useful and explanatory charts.
Why Present Data and Numbers With Charts?
Often, you’ll find yourself presenting data in PowerPoint. It’s a useful tool to illustrate data and bring numbers to life. But if you go about it the wrong way, you’ll distract and confuse your audience. Remember, the goal of sharing data is to deliver insights.
When you think of how to present data, you’ve got several options. Words alone should be an automatic no-no. Clustering numerical data in text paragraphs will confuse an audience. Similarly, tables don’t go far enough.
Consider the example below. While this approach may work for a simple dataset, it’s hard to capture value insights at a glance. Keep in mind, you want a viewer to quickly grasp the fundamental meaning of the data instantly.
That’s why your best option is to present data and numbers with charts. These are two related ways to present data that take a truly visual approach. Charts and graphs are forms of infographics. An infographic is a visual illustration meant to show ideas. They look great, they’re easy to read, and they work.
Recent research vividly shows their effectiveness. Infographics are read at a rate of 30:1 over text articles. Pair this with the fact that visual information represents 90% of what transmits to a reader’s brain. Clearly, these are tools to keep in your wheelhouse.
Visual information is powerful, and it’s the best way to present data. By using charts and graphs, even vast datasets can be understood at a glance.
As you can see below, the table data above transforms from a complex table to a clear and concise visual. It’s the identical range of data! The magic happens in the display of it. Charts are the key to success in the presentation of data and information.
How to Present Data and Numbers in Presentations
We’ve learned that the best way to present data is with charts. Now that you’re armed with this knowledge, you’ve got many options to choose from.
Premium PowerPoint data presentation templates are your best friend. These take the hard work out of building and sharing data charts. They teach you how to present data in presentations with pre-built options. All you need is your dataset!
For our walkthrough tutorial, we’ll use the Chart Presentation template from Envato Elements. It’s a premium option with 24 custom slide designs inside. Each is easy to customize to meet your data presentation needs.
With the template downloaded and opened in PowerPoint, let’s get to work learning how to present data. Follow the principles below, and you’ll be ready to get started!
The tips for how to present data in presentations were written using Windows and Office 365. If you’ve got a different operating system or a different version of PowerPoint, your steps may be slightly different.
1. Assess Your Data
Charts come in all shapes and sizes. There are pie charts, column charts, line charts, and many more. All have many uses, but each is targeted towards different types of data. First, you’ll want to assess the data that you have, and how it would best be presented visually. Let’s work with a sample dataset like the one below.
As you can see, the data has several rows, each representing a different country. Beside these are three columns, each covering sales for a given year. In short, you’re looking at three years of sales forecasts for five countries.
Reading over the data, it’s tough to instantly gain any insights. Sure, if you look long enough, trends start to emerge. But this is a slow, manual process. And imagine if there were fifty countries and twelve years, for example!
Manual analysis would become nearly impossible in a presentation setting. But by using a chart, you can instantly illustrate trends and forecasts. Any viewer – even an untrained eye – can readily see all key points with a moment’s glance.
2. Choose a Visual
Now that you’ve analyzed your data, you can easily see that a chart is essential. But what kind? We briefly mentioned three styles of charts. When you think of how to present data in presentation form, the trick is to choose the style that best fits your data.
For our example, we’re looking at multiple data points for several categories. Here, these data points are three sales values, for five countries each. Keep these ideas for how to present numbers in mind:
- A logical visual would group each country together.
- Then, show each of the three sales figures side by side.
- You could also reverse it – group the years and show sales for all five countries.
In a case like this, a column chart is the ideal choice. These group data just as described.
But when might a different chart type be useful? Imagine if your data included details about Germany’s 2024 sales, for example. Suppose you’re presenting to your marketing team, and they’ve asked how sales of each individual product make up the total. Here, a pie chart would be the perfect option. These show how individual pieces form a whole.
But in this case, we’ve decided on a column chart. Find one in the deck, and let’s insert it. In our template, slide #15 contains a beautiful chart. It’s already built. All you need to do is add your own data.
To do that, click into the chart area, then right-click. From the menu, choose Edit Data. You’ll see an embedded Microsoft Excel spreadsheet launch right inside of PowerPoint. From here, you can simply replace the existing data with the table you already have. As you work, the chart instantly updates itself to match the new data.
In moments, you’ll be presenting data in PowerPoint with this beautiful chart!
3. Style Your Visual
With your chart placed on the slide, you now have an array of design options. Remember, the goal is to make the chart work perfectly for your own data. These options primarily live on the Chart Design menu, which you can find on PowerPoint’s ribbon. With the chart selected, click on Chart Design.
The template has a beautiful color palette, but you can add your own. It helps to choose a color profile with plenty of contrast. This makes your visual even clearer and easier to read.
To add a new palette, click on the Change Colors drop-down menu. You’ll see an array of color swatches display. Click on one, and it’ll apply to your chart.
You can add a new background by launching the Chart Styles section in the center of the Chart Design menu. For example, you can choose one with a gray background to make the colors really stand out on the slide.
Also, it’s possible to add more context to the data. The horizontal axis in our example is clear enough, listing countries. But there isn’t any explanation of what the vertical axis represents, or the colorful bars. Follow these steps:
- Open the Add Chart Element dropdown near the upper left of the ribbon.
- Click Axis Titles.
- Choose Primary Vertical.
- You’ll see Axis Title appear on the chart. This is a text box, which you can select and type into.
Finally, back on the Add Chart Element dropdown, choose Legend, and pick a location like Top. Three colorful squares listing the three years shown in the chart will be added to the drawing. These labels aid in the presentation of data and information.
It’s easy to see how to present numbers in chart form, using PowerPoint. Start with a premium template like this, and then customize the chart inside to fit your needs.
4. Add Notes Where Needed
You now know well that charts are the best way to present data. But they don’t have to stand on their own!
Often, it’s useful to add more context. Audiences may understand the data perfectly but have questions. For example: Why are sales for one country climbing, while they are falling in another?
By adding notes where needed, you can add supporting details. It’s best to keep these off of the chart itself. If you clutter up your visual, the value of it diminishes rapidly. Check out an improved example below.
On our slide example, the paragraph section on the left may become a series of quick bullet points. These add supporting details that more fully explain the data shown in the chart.
Again, you may not always need to do this. But never think that a chart must be all-encompassing, explaining every piece of information by itself. The trick is to boost understanding, while remaining clear and concise.
5. Consider an Appendix
You may have extra details that you need to include in your slides.
In our example, imagine that you’ve got three sales offices in each of the five countries featured. Each of the fifteen makes up a certain percentage of overall sales. This may be key data for your audience, but it would complicate the visual that you just created.
Here, it’s a good idea to add an appendix. An appendix (often at the end of your slide deck) includes more detailed data. You might not review it with a live audience, but they can look at it later in a handout or digital format.
To add an appendix, go to the end of your presentation, and click New Slide on the Home tab. Here, it might be appropriate to share the detailed data in the form of a table. Or, you can add a pie chart, suitable for this style of dataset.
To add a chart from scratch, go to the Insert tab, then choose Chart > Pie. The embedded Excel window will return, and again, you can insert your data.
An appendix may not always be necessary. But you should include one (or more) if you’ve got meaningful data that you aren’t placing into the main slide deck.
The Best Source for Data Presentation Templates (With Unlimited Downloads)
Envato Elements is the best place to find top data presentation templates. For a low monthly rate, you’ve got access to unlimited downloads of PPT chart templates. You can try as many as you want, finding those that work best for you.
And that isn’t all. As an Elements member, you also have unlimited access to stock photos, music, fonts, and more. These are digital assets that pair perfectly with your data presentation.
Elements is an unbeatable offer because of the unlimited flexibility. With premium templates, you gain access to powerful features not found in free designs:
- beautiful data visuals that are pre-built and ready to customize
- stylish, custom fonts to help text stand out
- media placeholders to add supporting images and videos
- fully flexible layouts that adapt to your data and other content
The advantages are many. You save hard work, by leaving the slide design tasks to experts. This gives you the time needed to refine your message. Plus, the finished product will wow any audience, thanks to the expertly-crafted graphics. Truly, Envato Elements is the best value for creatives today.
Need a template, but don’t want an unlimited subscription? We’ve got you covered with templates from GraphicRiver. You’ll pay-as-you-go, and these templates give you everything you need. They’ve got pre-made designs for the best way to present data with less work than ever before.
Now Practice the Best Way to Present Data in Presentations
You just learned new ways to present data. Essentially, you saw how to present data in presentations so that your audience can understand it. Great presenters think of the audience first. They’ll thank you for your thoughtful work in how to present numbers and more.
Now, it’s your turn! Put these tips on how to present data in presentations to work. Take a flat table in a presentation and convert it with our tips for presenting data in PowerPoint. Just download a template and get started.