When you need to convey a lot of data or a complex idea quickly and simply, the best way to do it is with a visual image – and that’s the meaning of data visualization. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools available to help you do just that.
Most everyone is familiar with Microsoft Office applications like Excel and PowerPoint; some people are more proficient than others, but these tools are popular because they’re versatile and easy to learn.
Used together, Excel and PowerPoint are ideal for basic presentations and business meetings, with standard charts that can illustrate information in a variety of ways.
Essentially, the Excel spreadsheet contains your data, which you can use to populate PowerPoint for visuals.
In PowerPoint, you can choose from thumbnail pictures of different chart layouts. Then open a worksheet in Excel with your data and click on the cell to create your graphic.
You can also add charts and graphs to an Excel worksheet by highlighting cells in a worksheet and choosing, for example, column, line, area, or scatter, then selecting a layout. Really, it’s as simple as pie (chart).
But equally simple and considerably more sophisticated are new tools that are designed expressly for data visualization.
This is the way to go when you want to make a bigger impact and a bigger impression – often the case, given the attention deficits most of us face today. It’s also the right choice when you have mountains of data that you want to slice and dice and illustrate in different formats.
And have you ever thought about working with data collaboratively with teams? You can do that, as well.
Let’s take a look at how easy it is. The first step is to identify the message and key takeaways you want to deliver. You can use the software to uncover the answers you need in your data. Next, select the right chart type based on the goal of your narrative.
Then, with minimal time and effort, you can create beautiful analytics in a format best suited to the data. You can create a colorful infographic for an at-a-glance look at several different data points, combining various chart types and images relevant to the message. You can create a geographic map using different shading, coloring, or symbols to indicate values in each area – with an animation to show changes over time.
People or teams with different points of view or presentation needs can build dashboards in real time, even working remotely. And these new tools actually allow you to interact with the data.
That’s a far cry from one-dimensional tables and charts that can be viewed only as static display. Now, you’ve not only captured attention with compelling graphics and made your case; you’ve engaged your audience in your presentation. Impressive!
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