Graphical Presentation Of Tabular Data – Histograms (Part 2 of 5)

This is the second in a series of articles aimed at showing the benefits of presenting tabular data in a graphical format.

The first article explained how to carry out a simple survey which could be completed by children, the results being presented in a tabular form. Although the results could be reorganised to produce tables showing the data in different formats, such as by name in alphabetical order or in ascending order of height, the interpretation of the data is not immediate to the person reading it and conclusions may not be easily drawn. This not only causes difficulties for both the surveyor and the reader, but can be a little discouraging for the surveyor in trying to determine what they have achieved from their efforts.

We therefore need to display the data in an alternative format so that more can be achieved from the data gathered. One way of doing this is to use a graphical representation known as a histogram.

Histogram

A histogram is the best graphical method to use for plotting and displaying continuous data such as height or weight. It is not so good for displaying data known as discrete or discontinuous, where the subject has distinct survey criteria such as hat sizes or colours.

Let us assume that the child’s height survey, already mentioned in article one, consisted of a sample of 25 children all of the same age. The smallest child was 1.105m tall and the tallest height was 1.687m.

The visual representation of data for a histogram is a chart where the data values are represented by vertical columns whose heights are equivalent to each of the values of one of the survey’s criteria and all these vertical heights are proportional to each other. The width of the column is immaterial but is usually the same for each value displayed. It is preferable that the survey data is recorded in ascending order of height so that the smallest child’s height is recorded first.

Using our survey example above, the vertical axis, or as it is more commonly known, the ‘y axis’, would represent the height of each child within the survey and would range from 1.0m to 1.7m in ascending order. All the surveyed height values of 1.105m to 1.687m would be contained within the chart. The horizontal axis, or ‘x axis’, would represent the 25 names of the children in the sample.

For each child’s name a point is plotted on the chart corresponding to the height of the child. A vertical narrow column is then drawn above the child’s name up to the height point. This column can be given its own colour to differentiate it from its neighbours on the chart. All the remaining children’s heights are plotted in a similar way. If two or more children have the same height then the columns are drawn adjacent to each other. This is where using different column colours or patterns makes identification easier.

This simple histogram will be a series of vertical columns, the shortest on the left and the highest on the right. It will be clear from this chart which child is the shortest, which is the tallest and where each child is placed within the survey. It will also show in which height ranges the children’s heights are concentrated. As stated previously, the survey results will be of greater benefit for interpretation if all the children were about the same age or in the same class at school. Different colours could be used for boys and girls to show how their height ranges varied, if at all.

This form of data presentation is more pleasing to the eye and understandable than any of the spreadsheet tables. The person presenting the survey will find their output much more satisfying and should have greater pride in their achievement.

The next article in this series considers the use of vertical column, horizontal bar and cylinder charts. Details will be provided as to when they should be used, how they are constructed and the benefits that they can provide, both to the presenter and their audience.

3 Building Blocks of Strong Visual Presentation to Investors

Investor presentation is an important event for every startup. It’s a possibility to show a product to public and build relationships with investors. The way it is prepared and conducted will be followed by investor’s decision to put money into the project or step aside. That is why the main goal of presentation to investors is to convince them that a product or service meets users’ needs. To achieve it, a presentation should be designed in a way to answer two main questions:

1. What is a product or service?
2. Why will users want it?

And remember that “no presentation is better than a weak one”. Keeping that in mind you should spend significant amount of time not only to develop a product, but also to build the right approach to present it.

One of the common ways to do a presentation is to make it visible using computer and special software like Microsoft Power Point (or any other). Actually, the way the presentation looks is the major thing, not the software used to create it.

The three building blocks of strong visual presentation to investors are Plan, Time and Visual Tools:

1. Make a PLAN for the presentation and put slides in order with it. A plan could be like this:
a) Introduction – who you and your company are.
b) Product description – what does it do, what problem it solves.
c) Description of usage – who and how will use it, why customers will want it.
d) Competitive advantages and success stories (if any).
e) Finance – sales and profit projections.
f) Call for investments.

2. TIME: don’t make long presentations if the opposite is not required. Your presentation should take about 10 minutes. So the number of slides that are sufficient is from 12 to 15. More slides will take the most of your time to read the text, not to explain information to investors. People won’t listen to you too long and lose interest to your presentation. And avoid presenting and driving presentation simultaneously. It’s better to ask someone of your team to turn slides during your talk.

3. VISUAL TOOLS:
a) Use at least 16 font size. No one is going to read the text with a telescope.
b) Don’t put much text on slides. Be short and precise. Use bullets to divide text into simple statements and use 2-4 statements per slide.
c) The text on slides must not have errors and typos. After completing the presentation, read it again carefully and correct all errors. Also you can give it to someone for proofreading.
d) Use schemes to show logical structures. A scheme can explain the cause-effect relation even better than bulleted text.
e) Use colors to make slides catchy. You may use corporate or any other colors, but keep in mind that they should be contrast. Green text on yellow background will look fuzzy and hard to read. Dark text on light background will look good. Light text on dark background is good for darken rooms and require powerful projector. Also try not to use more than three colors in presentation.
f) Be careful using background. Fancy textures can make the text hard-to-read. Also, if you are not going to show slides on your laptop, your texture might be absent on another computer.
g) Use pictures and photos to make greater impression of your words.
h) Use charts and diagrams to present figures. Put data labels and use readable font size. Try to avoid using 3D diagrams as they might be hard to understand.
i) Don’t use spreadsheets on slides. It’s better to pick up 3-5 the most important for you numbers and show them in text or on separate slide.
j) If you are presenting something web-based, make an off-line copy and use it. Internet connection can be unstable and die right when you need it.

Following those tips will help startups to provide visual support for their presentation and get investors’ attention and funding as well.

Impact, Influence and Negotiation – Notice Where Their Focus and Energy Is

Influencing is a social process. To have personal impact and influence you need one or more people to be affected by what you do or say. The only measure of whether or not you have the desired effect – a positive impact and lasting influence – is whether or not the other person thinks, feels or behaves differently.

Interacting is at the heart of the process. This might be through written means by letter or email, over the telephone in a video conference or in person at a meeting. Whatever the channel of communication, consistently successful influencers and negotiators devote part of their attention and thinking to noticing the other person and what’s going on in the interaction. More specifically they collect and interpret data about the other person whilst engaging in the conversation, interaction or negotiation. With this data in mind they choose how to operate, what to say or do to have the most positive impact and the most influence over the outcomes or objectives.

Perhaps the first thing to notice – the first dimension to consider – is how the other person appears to act in social situations. You may know them well or this may be the first time you have interacted with them. If you know them well you need to review your data on them and ask yourself some questions about how they operate:

  • Do they tend to think before speaking or think out loud as they talk?
  • Do they look for opportunities to be interactive with others or are they more self-contained?
  • Do they prefer lively debates and discussions or reflective thinking?

The answers to these questions should guide your thinking on how to approach the meeting, telephone call or even the email interaction. One of the most important distinctions here is where their focus of attention and energy is. This may even change the way you do business with them. The reflective thinker is going to be more comfortable with the time afforded by email than having to think and act at reflex speed in a fast moving meeting.

But if you don’t know them then you will have to do the analysis live – as you talk and interact with them. In live conversations and meetings notice how quickly they speak, and how they respond to questions. Do they think then speak or start speaking and think as they go? How easily do they seem to engage in conversation – are they the ones that initiate new lines of discussion or do they follow others’ leads?

Understanding where the other person’s attention and energy is focussed will tell you how they will operate in interactions and how you will need to behave to get their attention and keep them engaged. These are the fundamental foundations of being able to have personal impact and influence. Your behaviour must at least start by matching how the other person thinks and acts, that means tuning in to their ways of working so that you can gain their attention and interest.