5 Ways to Make Your Infographics Sing

Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Business Start Up Advice [ 0 Comments ]

Displaying vital stats or research data is par for the course in most businesses.  You need to be able to plan, and to plan you need to discuss, and to discuss you all need to know what you’re looking at; the quicker and clearer the better.

But although many professionals have used infographic tools in the past, few of them learn how to make those bars, charts, and numbers sing – at least not a hummable tune.  Here are some tips that will have those quarterly report graphs jumping off the page and leading the chorus.

1. It All Starts With the Ingredients: Choose the Right Data

Think of it as cropping a picture: your co-workers don’t want to see anything that isn’t directly relevant to the goals of your presentation.  You have to be able to cut out as much detail as possible without losing the gist of the image.

It can be tricky, but it’s the first and most important step.  If you get it right, you’re sure to be on the right track; if you don’t, you’ll soon end up frustrated (and so will your team).  Once you get started on the wrong path, it’s just going to keep getting harder.

There’s an old Yiddish proverb: If you don’t know where you’re going, every road will take you there.  Know where you’re going, and you’ll be on the road you’re looking for.

2. Be Bold: Highlight the Take-Home Message

As complex as your data set may be, managers should be factoring in the big picture, and they need fundamental ideas to make broader decisions.  You’ve probably grown pretty close to these numbers, but don’t get too attached.  Data is like a lab rat, and you may end up needing to test shampoo.

In other words, don’t stay married to the details. Come up with a take-home message that the company can act on, ideally with every infographic, and build to a single overarching meaning at the end of your presentation.  Finally, make sure to identify it clearly, in boldface, so that it’s immediately clear to the audience.

3. It’s Not a Diorama: Make It Clearer than It Is Pretty

Actually, clarity is the watchword for all things infograph.  It can be tempting to make use of the presentation tools to add some color and vibrancy to the plain-looking words on the page, but be careful: it can quickly become more distracting than it is effective.

You’re not trying to win a blue ribbon; you’re trying to convey information as cogently as possible.  A little color can help with that, but a lot can wash it out.

So whenever there’s a battle raging in your mind between clarity and prettiness, let prettiness take a dive.  It’s what it wants to do anyway.

4. Don’t Hide Anything: They Can Handle the Truth

You may feel that there’s some roughness to the data you’re better off leaving out, but it’s a slippery slope.  A little tuck here, a little nip there, and soon enough you’re left with an empty Ben and Jerry’s container you were supposed to share with your wife.  Some friendly advice: put down the spoon before you get carried away.

Even if your boss doesn’t seem like he wants to hear what you’re going to tell him, you’re way better off giving it to him straight than delaying the inevitable and confusing management about the progress of the company.  Give him clean numbers: he can handle it, and so can you.

5. Engage With Your Audience: Man Does Not Live By Infographics Alone

After you’ve worked so hard that your infographics are singing like a choir of angels, when presentation time comes you have to be the one to carry it.  Hopefully you’ve created some outstanding visual aids, but you’re going to be conveying the message yourself.

Be familiar with your data, stay calm and collected while you’re speaking, and allow your co-workers to chime in with questions or comments.  Ultimately, infographics are simply a tool, and you’re using it – well.  Don’t let it use you.

Photo Credit: hello-son.blogspot.com

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