10 Places to Find Reliable Data for Presentations and Infographics

To find reliable data for presentations and infographics, you need to branch out beyond your everyday Google searches. The best data comes directly from the original source of the information, and your average Google searches typically only produce second-hand sources.

For quality data that you can confidently reference in your presentations, infographics, and other content pieces such as Ebooks and podcasts, check out the 10 resources below.

1. The Guardian Data Blog (official site)

Data journalism and data visualization from the Guardian

Tip: If you want to take your data savviness to the next level, sign up for the Presenting Data Master Class offered by The Guardian.

2. The United States Census Bureau (official site)

Quick, easy access to facts about people, business, and geography

Tip:  If you prefer to review data in a visual form, you’re in luck; The U.S. Census Bureau has a Data Visualization Library.

3. Kaiser Family Foundation Global Health Facts (official site)

Non-partisan source of facts, analysis and journalism for policymakers, the media, the health policy community and the public

Tip: Visit the graphics and interactive section of this site for videos, quizzes, and interactive infographics.

4. World Health Organization (official site)

WHO’s portal providing access to data and analyses for monitoring the global health situation

Tip: If you’re not sure where to begin on this tremendous site, start by reviewing the Publications section.

5. Data.gov (official site)

Home of the U.S. Government’s open data

Tip: Instead of heading straight to the Data section, start by selecting a Topic to focus your research.

6. Google Scholar (official site)

A simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature

Tip: After you enter your search query, use the filters to the left of the search results to weed out unusable materials.

7. Topsy (official site)

A social search and analytics tool

Tip:  Before you jump right into a search query via the homepage search bar, check out the Social Analytics section.

8. HubSpot Marketing Statistics and Data (official site)

All the marketing statistics you need

Tip: Download HubSpot’s resource, 120 Awesome Marketing Stats, Charts, & Graphs.

9. Nielsen (official site)

Insights and data about what people watch, listen to and buy

Tip: To get started, check out the Top 10 lists.

10. Radicati Group (official site)

Quantitative and qualitative research on email, security, instant messaging, social networking, information archiving, regulatory compliance, wireless technologies, web technologies, unified communications, and more

Tip: Download the free executive summaries of their most recent reports.

About the Author:

Leslie Belknap is the marketing director for Ethos3, a presentation design and training company.  For more information about the organization’s services, visit www.ethos3.com

4 Presentation Design Trends: Fads or Here to Stay?

Change is inevitable. Over the last decade, the presentations we produce, the tools and processes we use and the industry as a whole has evolved. Specifically, presentation graphics and methods for making them are changing.

As with all change, some will stay with us (e.g. the Internet) and others are merely a fad (e.g. the pet rock). The following are today’s top four presentation design trends:

1. Infographics

2. Flat Design

3. Photographs

4. Visual Metaphors

Let’s determine if they are here to stay.

1. Infographics

The ubiquity of infographics has spilled into the presentation industry. It is important to note that the strictest definition of an infographic is any graphic that clarifies or explains.
Recently, the term infographic has become synonymous with a specific style of graphic (and not a definition), rendered as an aesthetically simple and flat image using quantitative data to educate and persuade.

Displaying PowerPoint_Infographic_web.jpg

Graphic courtesy of Get My Graphic (www.GetMyGraphic.com)

A successful infographic requires its content and messages to be clear and concise so the final graphic is simple and easy to follow. Unfortunately, many presentation infographics I have seen are cluttered and confusing. The message is unclear and text has been replaced with a smattering of ambiguous icons and symbols.

Verdict:

Use infographics sparingly in your presentations. Do them well or don’t do them at all.  Start with a simple message. All content must support that simple message. Use simple
icons your audience will recognize. Images should complement and highlight your content and not distract or muddle your message. Infographics work best when quantitative evidence tells a clear, compelling story.

The push to get to the point and provide (quantitative and qualitative) proof is here to stay. However, the current infographic aesthetic is a trend. As with all aesthetic trends, it will evolve over time.

2. Flat Design

Flat design is seen as the modern graphic style due to the popularity of small electronic devices. To improve content legibility on hand-held devices, aesthetic embellishments such as highlights, depth, and shadows were eliminated.

The opposite of flat design is realism (skeuomorphism).

Displaying Flat-vs.-Realistic_web.jpg

Graphic courtesy of Get My Graphic (www.GetMyGraphic.com)

Both styles have pros and cons. For example, flat graphics are associated with newer design; therefore, applying this style subconsciously conveys the message that your company and solution are modern and innovative. Because of its plainness, flat design is often less expensive and time-consuming to produce. On the other hand, flat design can oversimplify or under explain critical pieces of information. Flat graphics limit aesthetic choices, making it difficult to highlight important or subtle concepts.

Skeuomorphism can communicate the realness of your solution. Because realistic visuals are often considered more labor intensive and superior than simple designs, using a more realistic style can improve the perceived quality of your company and solution as well as demonstrate your commitment to the project.

Verdict:

There is a time and a place for both flat and realistic graphics. With a skilled designer, you can mix both into one template to reap the benefits of each style. For example, you could use flat icons with realistic graphics within your slide deck. Be sure that your decision to choose flat and/or realistic graphics is driven by objective goals (e.g., legibility, customer perception/preference, messaging, brand standards).

3. Photographs

It is common to see a slide with a single photograph and minimal—if any—text. Using a single image to reinforce or replace content places more emphasis on emotional factors. Less textual content (e.g., bullets, sentences, paragraphs) also forces audiences to turn their attention to the presenter.

Displaying pict_web.jpg

Slide courtesy of Fotolia (Fotolia.com)

Verdict:

Dominant photographs are here to stay for three reasons:

1. The focus is on the presenter to give the narrative.

2. Pictures tell stories. Stories are one of the most powerful presentation techniques because stories are felt not heard.

3. It is a relatively inexpensive, easy approach to slide design.

The style of the photographs, placement, and cropping will evolve with stylistic trends of the time. (Because this aesthetic approach does not work well for technical information, expect related slides to be text and graphic-based.)

4. Visual Metaphors

Using a visual metaphor, simile or analogy helps the audience understand complex information. For example, explaining a transition plan to an audience unfamiliar with the concept is challenging at best. Using a visual metaphor, such as a bridge, improves understanding by using a familiar concept that shares characteristics with that which is being compared. A deeper understanding improves retention, adoption and persuasion.

Displaying slide2_web.jpg

Graphic courtesy of Get My Graphic (www.GetMyGraphic.com)

Verdict:

Popular books like Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point and Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational help presenters use behavioral psychology and learning theory to evolve best practices in our industry. We will see more sophisticated visual metaphors, similes and analogies as presentation design matures.

Because they are stylistic trends, expect the popularity of infographics and flat design to wane over time but remain far into the future. The lessons presentation designers learn from these stylistic trends will be folded into future trends.

Using more sophisticated photographs, images, icons, and graphics will increase. Sites like Get My Graphic (http://www.getmygraphic.com), Fotolia (http://fotolia.com) and iStockPhoto (http://www.istockphoto.com) make it easier to add professional clear, compelling graphics and photographs to slides. The more these approaches are proven effective, the more we will see of them.

About the Author:

Mike Parkinson is an internationally-recognized visual communications guru and presentation expert, professional trainer, and award-winning author. He is a partner at 24 Hour Company, which specializes in proposals and presentations. His Billion Dollar Graphics website and Get My Graphic website share best practices and helpful tools.

Infographic Resources Can Help Your Audiences Visualize Data

Most presentations are filled with truck loads of data, communicated through slide after slide of mind-numbing bullet points. The likelihood of your audience extracting the significant facts from this data dump is low.

Data is dry and lifeless until you make it come alive. Enter the infographic.

Wikipedia defines infographics as “graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly.” Infographics help an audience better understand complicated data and see patterns and trends. These graphic pictures provide context and tell a story which makes it easier for the audience to find relevance in the information.

The concept of graphically representing complicated information has been around for ages, but infographics are currently popular partly perhaps as an antidote to those bullet point-laden slides and partly because of new tools which make them easier than ever to produce.

Here are a few of the tools that will help you create infographics to make your presentations clearer and more memorable:

Easel.ly: This is a free, web-based app that creates professional-looking graphics. There are a variety of pre-existing themes where you can insert your own text and customize background colors, icons and fonts by dragging and dropping. The tool is easy to use and your infographic can be downloaded as a jpeg or png for your presentation.

Venngage: Another drag and drop tool with many templates, themes, charts and icons. You can upload data as a CSV to create your chart. The free option only allows for online viewing and sharing while the premium option [currently $19/month] enables you to export as a pdf or png.

Charteo: This takes the concept of PowerPoint templates to a whole new level. There are over 15,000 slides in this PowerPoint library in a wide variety of charts, graphs, diagrams and tables as well as background images, graphic metaphors, icons and symbols. The slides are 100% editable, including color, and can be downloaded for either Mac or PC. You can purchase an individual slide, an entire presentation or a subscription service.

With any of these tools, it’s easy to be seduced with the clever designs and cool bells and whistles. But remember that your primary job is to decide what message, story or pattern you want to communicate with your data and then…and only then…choose the appropriate tool to visualize that data for your audience.

About the Author:

Kathy Reiffenstein is the founder and president of And…Now Presenting!, a Washington DC-area business communications training firm, which offers a suite of public speaking and presentation skills programs geared to creating confident, persuasive speakers. Visit Kathy’s website at www.andnowpresenting.com to subscribe to her bi-weekly presentation tips or her blog where you’ll find fresh insights on speaking in public that are engaging, sometimes irreverent and always practical.

Make Effective Use of InfoGraphics in Your Slides

By Dave Paradi

Infographics are popular with designers who use them to explain complex information.  But a complex visual won’t work in a PowerPoint presentation unless you build it piece by piece.

A popular visual today is an infographic.  What is an infographic?  Based on definitions online, I would say that an infographic is a graphic visual representation of information, data or knowledge that presents complex information quickly and clearly.  The infographic does not simplify the information, it just represents it in a clear manner visually.

Here is an example I used in one of my slide makeovers:

Many infographics are complex, which is why using them in a presentation can be a challenge.  Showing the infographic all at once on a slide can be overwhelming for the audience because it is too much information at once, even though it may be visual.  The audience feels overloaded and the presenter has a hard time explaining each part of the infographic because the audience has trouble following along.

So how can you use an infographic you have been provided with on a slide?  Reveal it piece by piece instead of showing it all at once.  By showing only one part at a time, the audience can focus on what you are trying to explain and not be distracted by the other parts of the graphic. If you’d like to watch the video to see this demonstrated, you can watch it here. There are two approaches to building an infographic piece by piece on a PowerPoint slide.

The first approach is to reveal the pieces using exit animation of shapes placed on top of the infographic.  Start by placing the infographic on the slide.  Decide what portions need to be revealed in what order.  Draw a shape over one of the areas using the rectangle tool or the freeform tool if the shape needs to be more complex than a simple rectangle.  Set the fill color to be the background color of the infographic.

Add an exit animation to this shape so that when you advance on the slide, this shape disappears, revealing the portion of the infographic underneath.  You can then copy and paste this shape to cover up other areas or draw each shape individually if the situation is more complex.

The second approach is to actually break the infographic into separate graphics that can be built one-by-one on the slide.  To save a portion of the infographic as a separate graphic, you can use the built-in Paint program in Windows.  Open the infographic in Paint, use the rectangle or freeform selection tools to select the area you want as a separate graphic.

Use the Crop function to remove the remaining parts of the infographic and save this portion as a new name (so you don’t overwrite the original file).  Use the same steps to create a new graphic file for each portion of the infographic you want to build on the slide.  Then insert each new graphic file on a slide and animate them to appear in the correct order.

Infographics are complex visuals that can be used on a PowerPoint slide if you take care to reveal the graphic one portion at a time to help guide the audience during your explanation.

About the Author:

Dave Paradi is the author of “102 Tips to Communicate More Effectively Using PowerPoint” and “The Visual Slide Revolution”, which was selected as one of the Top 10 Business Books of 2008 by The Globe and Mail. He is an Adjunct Faculty member at Rush University in Chicago and is the co-author of two “Guide to PowerPoint” MBA-level textbooks. His workshops, books, videos, newsletters and podcasts help presenters communicate more effectively using persuasive PowerPoint presentations. Visit his web site at www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com for more information.

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