Five Tips for Displaying Numbers on PowerPoint Slides
Author: Danny Rocks
Date Created: October 5th 2010
Last Updated: June 12th 2012
Rocks is a speaker, a trainer and an author. He has
published five DVDs designed to help users get the most out of
Microsoft Office programs. Also, Danny has posted over 200 video
This article started from a blog post by Geetesh Bajaj on how people start using PowerPoint like an extension of Word or Excel. Danny wrote this article to provide tips on displaying numbers more effectively on your PowerPoint slides.
When presenting financial results on a PowerPoint slide, do not overwhelm your audience. Use the power of your numbers to support your conclusions. Do not make the mistake of thinking that “the numbers speak for themselves.” They do not! Do not allow your numbers-filled slide deck to overshadow you, the presenter.
Your audience came to listen to you; to hear your opinions and conclusions; and to see the trends that you have discovered during your analysis. Use the power of your numbers strategically during your presentation. Reveal your numbers point by point as you direct the discussion of the meaning of the numbers. Displaying lots of numbers on a slide is boring and mind-numbing for the audience. Discussing the meaning of the numbers engages your audience. Don’t allow numbers to be passively displayed on the screen. Bring your numbers to life; give them meaning. Animate your charts to liven up your presentation!
Here are five tips to help you to effectively present numbers during your presentation:
- Create a Relevant Handout. Do more than simply use the “four
slides on a page” thumbnails as your handout. Your handout should
contain relevant facts and resources. Your slide show is not your
- Use the Notes Page in PowerPoint to Create
As you create your slides, develop the habit of using “Notes View”
in PowerPoint for listing your sources and your background notes.
Then you can “polish” your notes and use them as your handout.
- Communicate Trends with Graphics on Your
Slide. Notice that
I said “graphics.” In addition to using charts, you can use tables
to compare options or use SmartArt Diagrams and other shapes to
illustrate concepts. When you do use actual numbers, display only
the relevant numbers. You can put the details in your handout.
Consider your audience. Don’t force them to squint and strain their
- Use the appropriate Chart Type on your Slide. Understand
the purpose of each chart type: Column Charts show comparisons,
usually over a time period. Bar Charts show results in a “Top to
Bottom” order. Pie Charts display the parts that make up 100% of
a category. Line Charts illustrate trends. With all Chart Types,
be careful to only display “significant” numbers. For example,
limit your pie slices to four: The top three, and all of the others
combined into the fourth slice.
- Animate Your Charts to Direct
the Discussion. When appropriate, apply Custom Animation to your
Chart Slides in PowerPoint. With animation, you can introduce one
series or one category at a time. This helps your audience to see
the correlations in your numbers and to compare one category or
series with the other. Used effectively, chart animations will
engage your audience in the discussion and this leads to improved
comprehension of the topic that you are presenting.
Always remember that when you are in the front of the room, you are the presentation. Design your presentation so that the numbers enhance the quality of your presentation. Do not allow numbers to overwhelm your audience and to make your comments irrelevant to the presentation.
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