Microsoft Excel is the best tool in the Microsoft Office Suite for analyzing data. Yet Excel also has the charting and graphing features that help display your data in an easy to understand format.  Not every presentation has to be in PowerPoint. In fact, Microsoft Excel can be a better medium for presenting data in many cases.   Let’s discuss some Excel presentation tips that will help you present data in a compelling and visually appealing format.

1. Charts and Graphs

Effectively providing a visual summary of data using graphs and charts is an important presentation technique. But it’s just as easy to make a confusing chart as it is to make a helpful one. Cramming every bit of data possible into a visual can result in your presentation becoming cluttered and complicated. Will your audience be able to comprehend the data being portrayed? Could you possibly group or format it differently to make it more meaningful or easier to understand? Excel offers several choices for chart type that can turn the raw data of your excel workbook into an easy to understand format.  Excel charts can also be used as embeds in PowerPoint presentations. 

Make sure to use the excel chart type that best matches your data.  Pie charts are used for presenting categories as a percent of the total. Line graphs are used when you have data collected over a period of time.  Scatter plots are useful to show how two different values of a data set relate.  Give your visual tools some thought before you present and use them appropriately to produce a convincing story.

2. Diagrams

If you have hierarchical excel data or you are trying to describe a process or a series of steps, then a diagram may be the best option. Diagrams are great if you’re creating organization charts, flow charts, or other data that would benefit from a visual layout. The simplest way to gain and keep someone’s attention is to show them an image that is eye-catching and easy to understand.

3. Highlighting and Borders

To call attention to sections of data in your spreadsheets, such as summary totals and conditional formatting, use color highlighting along with a border to make that section stand out.  You can also create a key to describe what different highlight colors mean. Colors are visually appealing and draw the audience’s eyes to the specific information that you want to show them. If you provide a color-coded key, then they can easily determine what they’re looking at.

4. Themes

Excel has a wide selection of built-in themes that will distinguish column headers and other areas of the spreadsheet so that you present a pleasing color pallet. These themes provide a starting point for choosing fonts, formatting, and colors that are easy to read and visually appealing.  People associate a coordinated color pallet with professionally done work and will be more likely to pay attention if they believe you carefully constructed your presentation.

5. Sparklines

Sparklines are small charts or graphs inserted as the background of a single cell.  Sparklines are useful for illustrating trends or patterns in a data table without creating a full chart.  And, unlike charts, sparklines are automatically printed along with the worksheet.  Sparklines can be used to show trends or maximum and minimum values.  Since sparklines don’t take up as much space as traditional charts and can be placed next to the data being described, they can be an effective tool for analysis.

With the Excel data presentation tips above, you can format your Excel spreadsheets to make a big impact on your audience. If you’d like to learn more about Excel and how you can use it for presentations, contact ONLC today.

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