What NOT to do! Don’t cut and paste your graphs from excel or word into your slides!

Be careful when using graphs on your slides. Graphs are commonly used in corporate presentations to highlight trends and show comparisons. We know, ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’. And it does, as long as you can see it!



In my experience most people tend to copy and paste graphs from an existing document (like a report) into their slide presentation rather than re-create them for this different medium. The problem is that a report is a document meant for reading carefully in the reader’s own time. It’s also intended that a report will be read on paper at close range, so graphs in reports are often very detailed.


What should you do instead?


I recommend you shouldn’t just copy and paste the graph from a report into a slide show. Instead you should reproduce only the important parts of the graph for a slide presentation. The slide show is a different medium and intended to be seen at a distance, not close range like a report, and presenters only give you about 10 seconds per slide. This means the graph on the slide should be way simpler than a graph on a paper report. If you need your audience to see the details, then create a simple graph on the slide and give the more detailed version of that graph on a handout or electronically as a pre-read.


People from one company I work with often say to me that it’s just too much trouble to re-design the graphs when they have been pre-designed by a computer whiz who knows how to create fantastic graphs. So, let’s go back to the reason you are presenting. Is it so you can bamboozle your audience, or have them switch off because they can’t read what you are showing them? Or is it so you can influence them to be engaged by your results?


It is going to be a little bit more work if you decide to reproduce graphs from scratch with just the important information – and it’s worth it! 


Happy Presenting!



© Michelle Bowden 2020.  Michelle Bowden is an authority on presentation & persuasion in business. Michelle is a CSP (the highest designation for speakers in the world), co-creator of the PRSI (a world-first psychometric indicator that tests your persuasiveness at work), best-selling internationally published author (Wiley), and a regular commentator in print, radio and online media.

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