Even More Ways to Print White Lines in PowerPoint – PowerPoint Video Tip #14

In a previous video, I showed you white lines in PowerPoint are printed as black lines. And I showed you a workaround.

Then presentation designer Krzysztof Baszton contacted me to tell me there are more elegant ways to accomplish this. Watch.

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

Obama Re-Elected? Graphs Tell the Story

Will President Barack Obama get re-elected? History shows Americans prefer to re-elect presidents instead of electing new ones, with 7 of the last 10 presidents winning their re-election bid.

And what about President Obama? The numbers tell a gloomy story for President Obama’s re-election chances. First, Obama had a 45% approval rating in Nov 2011. No president has been re-elected with an approval rating below 50% one year before the re-election.

Second, the unemployment rate was 8.7% in Nov 2011. With only one exception, presidents do not get re-elected when they enter the re-election year with high unemployment rates.

So the story looks grim for President Obama. But these numbers tell the wrong story. Because the real numbers that matter is how things are improving. There is a strong correlation between approval ratings and unemployment rates. High unemployment leads to low president approval ratings. And when unemployment falls, approval ratings climb.

Unemployment has improved over the past year and assuming this trend continues, Obama will head into re-election season with a 1.5% two-year reduction in unemployment, down from 9.8% in Nov 2010 to 8.3% today and still improving.

There are other factors that matter: the strength (or weakness) of the opposition candidates, the president’s re-election promises, scandals that can derail a re-election bid. But assuming the economy keeps adding jobs, and Obama’s approval rating continues to climb, Americans will likely continue their habit of re-electing the incumbent.

By the way, the graph used in this article is called a win/loss graph and it’s one of many graphs I’ll be talking about in my new book, focused on telling stories with graphs. To get alerted when that book is available, subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group.

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

Show Percentage vs Goal With the Progress Bar Chart

On the Microsoft Office LinkedIn group, someone asked this question:

“Which chart is better to show percentage to goal results?”

It’s common in business presentations to show progress toward a goal, like percentage of sales versus sales quota or percentage of employees trained versus training goals.

One graph that is great for this is called a progress bar chart. It gets its name because it looks like the progress bar when you’re downloading something from the internet.

How to create a progress bar chart
1. Create a side by side bar chart. One bar shows the goal, the other shows progress to date
2. Overlap the bars with the longer bar in the back. Right click one of the bars and choose Format Data Series > Overlap 100%
3. Color the longer bar a neutral color, like light gray
4. Add a thick border around the longer bar (15 point width in this example). Color it the same color as the bar to make the longer bar fatter and the shorter bar appear to be inside it
5. Add data labels and manually change the dollar values to percentages if you prefer

You may be interested to know I’m writing a followup book to Speaking PowerPoint, focused entirely on how to present and tell better stories using graphs. Subscribe to my blog or my LinkedIn group to be alerted when it’s published, likely in the next few months.

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

Graph Makeover by Andy Arrow

This is a great graph makeover by presentation designer Andy Arrow. The ideas expressed in this video are the foundational stuff of great graphs.

Some main principles

1. Clarify the graph’s main message in the title

2. Take what’s important and move it higher on the slide

3. Use colors to highlight what’s important and subdue everything else

Great graphs don’t just happen. They require thought and skillful use of design principles. Thanks to Andy Arrow for this thoughtful and practical educational video.

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

A New Way to Visualize Data = The Grable

Cole Nussbaumer, at the Storytelling with Data blog, has introduced a useful term for data visualization in business: the Grable. It’s a combination of a table and a graph.

Tables are good for some things, like looking up specific values and especially when each row has several columns of numbers and text data. Graphs are good for other things, like showing patterns in the data instantly.

Sometimes you need both – a combination table and graph – or “grable”.

Now, the idea of a combination table/graph is not new; they’ve been around forever. But the term “grable” is new. And it’s a useful addition to the data viz vocabulary, especially for business data.

How do you create a grable? There are several ways to do it. In Cole’s grable above, she creates a table for the text part of the grable and then adds a graph, which she resizes to align with each row. That’s option one.

Option 2 is to use conditional formatting (Excel 2007 or later). Enter the data in one column, then select all the cells and choose Home > Conditional Formatting > Data Bars > Solid Fill. Now a bar chart appears over top of the data values.

One problem with conditional formatting is sometimes the number half on the graph and half off, so it’s hard to read. Or, you may not have the right Excel version. In that case, there’s a poor man’s version which can work just as well. It looks like this

Here’s how to build the poor man’s conditional formatting. List the data in one column. Then in the column next to it where you want the bar to appear, enter this Excel formula:

Let me explain this formula. REPT means to repeat the symbol in quotations a certain number of times. The symbol in quotations is the “|” pipe symbol. And when you place them side by side enough times they look like a bar. Use the Playbill font for best results.

The formula in red is the number of times you want to repeat it. “A4” is an example where you would point to a cell that contains your data. But if the number is too large (eg. 400,000) that’s too many pipe symbols. It would stretch from here to the elevators. Instead, divide that number by some reasonable amount so the bar is the length you want. Similarly, if the number is too small (eg. 0.5) then multiply that by some reasonable number to get a bar length you like.

Try a grable the next time you present data to executives. Thanks to the charting gurus at Chandoo.org for this handy Excel tip!

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.