Data Viz – How Close Are We to a Budget Deal?

Congress is almost out of runway on a deal to lift the U.S. debt ceiling, with negotiations continuing and a number of issues on the table. To help visualize the issues that need to be negotiated, I created this data viz.

Here’s a gambit that might work: Obama could announce plans to hold talks in 2014 to negotiate a long-term deficit-reduction plan. With the deficit out of control, this conversation is long overdue anyway. That takes this request off the table for Republicans and allows them to declare a moral victory. It also allows Obama to declare a moral victory by not tying any deal to negotiating a long-term budget in the next six weeks.

Otherwise, it will be painful to find a middle ground.

Right now, Susan Collins (R, Maine) has the plan with the most support from both Democrats and Republicans, although president Obama did not endorse it and so Democratic Senate leaders are resisting it too. But it moves the two sides closer together.

How will it all end? My hope is a deal will be reached and this blog post is outdated by Monday, October 14. But the world watches and waits…

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.

Do Your PowerPoint Slides Have A Clear Visual Path?

When someone looks at your slides, does their gaze sweep effortlessly through the slide? Or does it get bogged down on the largest objects, unsure where to travel next?

For instance, here’s a typical PowerPoint slide. How does your gaze move through this slide?

Notice how your gaze first gets locked on the bunch of blocks on the left, then heaves over to the blocks on the right. It feels heavy and lumbering. Maybe your gaze even gets locked in an endless loop, cycling back and forth between the two blobs of information.

But we want the eye to sweep effortlessly left to right, like wind flowing through a tunnel or water flowing down the river. You don’t get that sense now.

There are gray arrows in the background, directing the gaze left to right. But they are too muted, drowned out by the thick borders on the boxes. The borders have no direction. They are planted firmly and so draw your eye to a full stop when you land on them.

But look at what we can do to improve that.

By removing the vertical borders on the boxes, we’ve created a display of mostly horizontal lines, directing the eye to read left to right. The heavy vertical borders, which had formed an imposing barrier preventing the left to right eye sweep, are gone. It feels like the windows have been thrown open and air can rush through this slide!

Pay attention to the visual path and make it easy for the eye to sweep through your slide by 1) using arrows, numbers and other guides to direct the visual path and 2) removing obstructions that block the visual path.

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.