Highlight what’s important

Start by asking, “What would I like people to remember about the data?”—and give that point visual emphasis. If you’re projecting a chart about sales trends over five years but talking specifically about how sales are consistently low in the first quarter, show the first-quarter bar of each year in a rich color and other bars in a neutral color, like gray. De-emphasize grid lines, borders, axes, and labels and use contrast (color, size, or position) to draw the viewer’s eye to where the meaning is.

Tell the truth

This may seem obvious, but many presenters play fast and loose with their charts. If you don’t have a z-axis in your data, omit all 3D effects—the depth can make your numbers look larger than they are. In a 3-D pie chart, for example, the pie piece in the foreground appear deceptively larger than the rest. Also, don’t alter the proportions of your axes. Doing so can make a change in the numbers look more significant or less so. Square grid lines will keep your data true.

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