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 for more information.

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