Handling data in PowerPoint

Audiences don't resist change; they resist the unknown.
And when you don't first tell them what they're looking at,
they tune out.

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Click "question?" at any time to ask Steve for more.

Some 189 students, faculty, and administrators from MD  Anderson, Baylor College
of Medicine, and Rice University packed Onstead Auditorium for Steve Toms' workshop.

Rule of 3s

It's easier to internalize data
when it's presented in groups
of 3-4 subsets.

How many can you name without having to pause
and think of the next one?

  • Name the U.S. Supreme Court Justices

  • Name the planets

  • Name the pieces found on a chess board

Here's an even better one. On a sheet of paper, write down responses
to the following. But stop when you have to think of the next one.

  • Names of life insurance companies

  • Brands of laundry detergent

  • Ice cream flavors at Baskin-Robbins

If you're like most members of your audiences, you had to pause
after the third or fourth response: "Um..." This what we call your
perceived set—info that's easily available to you.

It's the way your long term memory is organized.

That's the way you like to take in information?

  • Telephone numbers: 3-3-4 (area code, prefix, number)

  • Social Security: 3-2-4 (explained at Wikipedia)

  • Credit cards: 4-4-4-4 (look this one up on Wikipedia

One last test to prove how we take in and process data:
Ask someone to recite their phone number. Then ask them to do it again
at the same speed, only backwards.

You make it easier for your audience to take in data if you
present it in groups of  3-4 subsets.

No more than 3-4 bullets on each slide, or
you risk turning off a portion of your audience.

And never display a bullet point until you plan
to discuss it. As we discussed in the workshop, audiences can think at 3,000 words/minute versus your ability to speak at only 125.

They scan ahead, and then tune out.
Click here to learn how to animate bullet points.

Tip: Change something every 30 seconds
(bullet point, slide, tone of voice, movement,
or just silence). And when it's important,
repeat it 3 times.

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The Gutenberg Diagram

Layouts that fail to follow
the gravity principle reduce comprehension by up to 50%.

This concept applies to PowerPoint
slides and text documents.

We decide whether to take in and process information after making a quick scan of the presentation slide or document page: top-to-bottom, left-to-right. From the Primary Optical Area (POA) to the Terminal Anchor (TA).

Effective presenters ensure that important facts appear along the diagonal
to make it easier for their audiences to find the good stuff.

Ideally, the final point or set of data should appear at or near the terminal anchor near the right margin of your slide.

The black boxes are called dead zones, places on the slide or page
that the eye does not naturally seek out. It's acceptable to place images
or text in these areas, but you'll want to use some graphic devices,
such as arrows or dotted lines to pull the eye into and then away
from these areas.

Improve readability on bullet points:

Keep text phrases on the same lines; avoid hanging prepositions, adjectives, and adverbs.

Use a soft return to move a word down to the next line without affecting paragraph spacing.

Place the cursor in front of the word you wish
to move. Hold the SHIFT key; hit RETURN.

In your research documents, optimum readability coincides with text columns that accommodate 5-14 words (at 10-12 point type), with 20% spacing between lines (10 point over 12 point line spacing). This helps the eye move down to find the next line.

Effective layouts enhance readability.
Enhanced readability improves comprehension.

Source: Check out Type and Layout
by Colin Wheildon. It's based on a 7-year
study of How typography and design
can get your message across—or get
in the way
. Available at most major libraries,
or for purchase at Amazon.com).

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Principles of chunking

Keep your audience focused:
show it; say it; change it.

Step 1: Deconstruct (chunk) your data
into groups of 3-4 subsets (in the order
that you will present them),

Step 2: Build/Rebuild your chart.
Consider setting the title/heading in 24-28 point type. After all, it's the research data that matters.

Draw the bars, lines, or pie pieces. Then animate each element. For example: Bars should wipe up or stretch up; and pie pieces should zoom in or ascend/descend at medium or fast speeds.

Step 3: Copy and deconstruct unneeded
previous animations and data that won't
be discussed on the slide.

 A  > Make duplicate sets of screens for each chunking group + 1 extra slide to be used
to educate your audience on the layout.

Assign a slow Wipe Right screen transition
to your master chart before copying. That way, each data slide will change the same way..
Audiences like consistency.

 B  > Working backwards (from Slide 4
to the Frame Slide 1), simply delete unneeded
elements and animation.

Tip: Stretch a gray image box over data
previously presented. This keeps the audience focused solely on what you're discussing.
Use a Stretch from Left animation.

A > Draw and size the box. Highlight it
(dots appear on all sides).

B > Click the Fill color bucket icon.
Pick a light shade, such as gray or light blue.

C > From the More Fill Colors tab,
move the Transparency slide bar to 50%.

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Copyright 2010 | Steve Toms