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Pitch Perfect

Scott Berinato, author of the captivating book: “Good Charts: The HBR Guide to Making Smarter, More Persuasive Data Visualizations,” joined us on May 5 to talk about data visualization and how we all might make more compelling presentations, including via powerpoint.

Scott reminded us that today’s discourse, whether through USA Today, cable news or even billboards, often is an “argument of charts” and the President now uses charts in the State of the Union address.

Scott’s advice to presentation planners is to go back to “the fundamentals” of communication:

*We all love charts and brain science now confirms that we access and process information from shapes, images, tables and graphs at least as readily as words, if not more so.

*You are never NOT persuading in a presentation.

*Every chart is a manipulation of data to persuade and the actual visualization of information on a slide is the manipulation tool.

*Good Charts provides great practical examples of how to prepare data and charts to persuade and not simply inform.

*Context matters—the focus should be on what you are trying to say and how you consider that for every single slide.

*Don’t forget to think through how the chart will be displayed. Is the presentation in a small room or a ball room and will the audience be able to see and process your charts?

*We often judge charts based on font, colors, grammar and not necessarily substance in the first instance. Scott says “our brains react to pretty things.” Think primary colors and consider emphasis and isolation of words and phrases in charts.

Scott’s book is an easy and essential read for anyone who might be called on to present to a board, investors, or a potential strategic partner.

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