You’ve made a data visualisation in an Excel spreadsheet, but you’re not sure of the best way to display your findings during a presentation. Not only does opening a spreadsheet during the presentations look unprofessional, but it also hampers the audience experience.

Find out ways to use your Excel data to make beautiful and coherent visualisations on your PowerPoint presentation.

There are a few ways for you to insert your data into PowerPoint. We’ll start from the easiest to the more strenuous (basically it’s a few extra steps but it’s not difficult).

Copy & Paste Data:

This works well if you’ve already turned your data into a graph, chart, or etc. Simple copy and paste your data visualisation into PowerPoint. Think of this option as simply copying and pasting an image – you can’t make changes to it.

The downside is that if your data changes before your big presentation, you’ll have to go into the Excel spreadsheet, change the values, and put it back into your PowerPoint. And this also means you can’t customise your data visualisation once it’s pasted into PowerPoint.


Linking Data:

After copying the graph or chat from your Excel spreadsheet, right-click in a PowerPoint slide, and it will give you two options:

  1. Use Destination Theme and Link Data: this means that you can customise the chart in PowerPoint
  2. Keep Source Formatting and Link Data: this means that it keeps the Excel data visualisation

When Excel is open at the same time as your PowerPoint, the data will update automatically. If they’re not both open, you can refresh the data in PowerPoint so that any changes in the Excel spreadsheet is reflected in the presentation.

Embedding Data:

When you embed data into PowerPoint, it means that PowerPoint stores the data within the PowerPoint file.  Your pasting options include:

  1. Use Destination Theme and Embed Workbook
  2. Keep Source Formatting and Embed Workbook

Keep in mind that any changes you make in the PowerPoint or Excel won’t change their values because they’re not linked together.

Now that you’ve got your data into your PowerPoint, how do you make it stand-out?

Pick the right chart to get your message across

Choose the visualisation appropriate to the data. For example, line graphic for trends, pie chart if the numbers are out of 100. Choosing the wrong visualisation can confuse your audience. Having a second opinion would help you gauge which visualisation will help illuminate data better.

Reduce the amount of colours and use extra colours for the data that needs emphasis

While this appears to be bad advice – more colour means it’s prettier, right?  Well, your data isn’t a Pollock and too much colour can actually confuse your audience instead.

Remove the legend and label the data instead

No one is going to read the legend while you present. It’s clutter. Remove it and label the data correctly.

Add icons to help make the information clearer

If the label can also be turned into an icon, it helps people visualise the data by placing a tangible, real object in their minds.

Finally, and most important…

Remove Unnecessary Elements in the Design

Find out more about presentation design at Synapsis Creative.

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