Every PowerPoint presenter wants to be regarded as an expert in their given field, and presenters often use statistics to drive their points home. Unfortunately, too many statistics or poorly presented statistics tend to undermine the efficacy of PP presentations. If you're considering presenting statistics on your slides, you'll need to take care to choose the right balance of statistics to send your message. Thankfully, doing that isn't tough. Take these five steps to use statistics in PowerPoint successfully.
1. Set a Purpose for Statistics
Using statistics in PowerPoint presentations can be a great way to increase audience buy in, but that only works if you know how and why to use them. The first question you should ask yourself is
- am I using statistics to convince my audience that my information is correct? or
- am I using statistics to convince my audience that I've done my research?
Knowing why you're using statistics will help you select the right stats and present them in a way that increases audience understanding of the topic. If you're not using statistics to meet either of these purposes, it's probably best to find something else to fill your presentation.
2. Identify Key Takeaways
Imagine that you're creating a 30-minute presentation for your organization. You can stack all of that time with statistics, but will that really keep your audience engaged? No. Too many stats will bore and overwhelm your audience, and their overuse may actually make the audience think you're trying to hide something. Instead, you'll need to identify the key takeaways of your presentation and develop stats that support those points.
When it comes to identifying takeaways, you'll want to look for no more than three key points that you want your audience to remember long after the presentation is over. Once you've identified these takeaways, you can start looking at statistics that support them. There might be other information in your presentation that can also be backed up by stats, but there's no reason to go overboard.
3. Choose the Right Statistics
Once you know the key takeaways of your presentation, you can work to identify statistics that support them. Choose the most compelling stats or those that best illustrate the point you're trying to make. When using statistics on slides, try to limit yourself to one stat per slide. Crowding slides with tons of numbers or charts will overwhelm your audience and be counterproductive. Whenever possible, choose statistics that have strong real-world applications as they tend to be memorable.
You can use statistics garnered from your own research as well as those that you've collected from outside sources. If you're using stats from outside sources, though, remember that fact checking them is absolutely essential. Use statistics only from reliable sources that you've verified yourself in order to avoid embarrassment.
4. Present Compelling Statistical Visuals
Statistics can be boring, and there's no exception to that when you're presenting them in PowerPoint. That's why creating compelling visuals to illustrate at least half of your statistics is essential. Use charts and graphs that help your audience get a good grasp on exactly what the stats are saying. You can create charts yourself or you can hire a designer to do so on your behalf. Whatever your course of action, make sure that your charts look professional and not like something you'd see in a child's school report.
When making charts or graphs, it's also essential to be sure that you're drawing attention to the information that backs up your takeaway points. Use only one chart or graph per slide so that your audience members aren't overwhelmed by information. You want audience members to get a clear picture of how an individual statistic backs up a main point. Shoving too many stats onto one slide will confuse your audience and muddy your argument.
5. Make Statistics on Slides Come to Life
Charts, graphs and other visuals are a great way to convey statistics to your audience. Unfortunately, using just these tactics might fall short of impressing your audience. You should also present statistics in easy-to-understand ways that make them come to life. Imagine that you're giving a presentation about blueberries. You want to share that one cup of blueberries has 13,427 antioxidants.
That's a cool statistic, but it's unlikely that your audience will remember the number 13,427. Instead, use a comparison or equivalent. For example, you could say "one cup of blueberries has ten times the daily recommended amount of antioxidants." That information will be much easier for your audience to remember, and it will make what could be a boring statistic come to life.
Like most presentation tasks, using statistics in PowerPoint is more an art than a science. Using the right balance of statistics will help your audience both understand your points and invest confidence in what you're sharing. If you're not sure if you've used statistics successfully in your presentation, ask a coworker or trusted friend to go through your presentation with you and offer feedback.
Of course, working with PowerPoint design professionals is also a great way to strike the perfect balance of statistics. At Synapsis Creative, we've designed hundreds of PowerPoint presentations. We know when and how to present statistics for maximum impact. If you're struggling with the statistical balance of your PowerPoint, give us a call.