Pick the right chart for the job

The most common charts in business are pies, bars, matrixes, and line graphs. They serve different purposes, though. Use a line graph instead of a bar chart if the shape of the line will draw attention to your most important point. Use a matrix instead of multiple pie charts if you want to show relationships between the data points.

For example, pie charts can be confusing. We saw a slide where a pie chart was meant to show how airline ticket sales occurred in three different sales channels: online, agents, and direct sales. But there was not much you can deduce from these charts, because they were visually similar.

Lay out the data in a matrix, however, and suddenly it’s clear that total sales for Airline 3 were almost double the others.

Sometimes the best chart is no chart at all. If a number conveys your key message most clearly on its own, show just that number, really huge on the slide.

Looking for inspiration? Check out some presentation slides from before there was PowerPoint. For the money being spent per slide back then, they needed to be sure each slide was effective.

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