Making awesome presentations and infographics

A number of examples include:

Every organisation is different and your experiences may be different, but I thought I would take this opportunity to share a number of tips and tricks for making awesome presentations and infographics that I have picked up...


1.  Consider your audience

The most important thing to consider is your audience.  Talk to them.  Ask them what they want.

A presentation or infographic should turn raw data into useful information, by organising information for your audiences.

In Coventry City Council, our performance reporting arrangements involve three levels of reporting, from high-level summary scorecards to detailed report cards, and a directory of reports across the organisation.


2.  Responsive design

Design should be responsive to the medium.

Spend time re-creating and redesigning your work for different forms of media to make best use of their strengths, for instance, paper, websites, interactive, mobiles, print, presentation slides, animations, videos.


3.  Use the software packages that you have

It's not about software - it's about audience, intent and purpose.

Word, Excel and PowerPoint are not the best packages in the world, but they are surprisingly powerful.  In times of austerity, PowerPoint can be used as a free graphic design and page layout package (replacing software like Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign); and an animation package.  There are also open-source software that is free and entirely legal to use as well.  Use them!


4.  Draw your own charts

The default charts in Microsoft Office are terrible.  Many of the fancy performance management packages also produce awful charts that look superficially good but are actually rather awful. 

Think of your audiences, draw your own charts and measure them to ensure that they are factual / evidence-based.


5.  Choose a limited colour palette

Consider how colours can be used to bring out your data.  Websites can help you choose colours that go well together.  In Coventry, we have made things very colourful - but each colour represents something.  For documents that are designed for print, we have also ensured that they also work well in black and white.  It is also important to ensure that documents are accessible to your audiences.


6.  Iterative development – test things out!

Nobody will always get it right.  Test ideas out with your colleagues and audiences to gain continuous evaluation and feedback. Get them to come up with their own ideas to ensure people understand what you are trying to convey.  Use the web – and build on ideas from other people.


Si Chun Lam, January 2014


Links updated 25/11/2014 to reflect new Coventry City Council website.

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Former Member 8 Years Ago
This is great. Thank you for sharing your examples and insight.
Former Member 8 Years Ago
All sounds pretty interesting. We've been doing a lot around data visualisation in Cambridgeshire - take a look round to see what we do (specifically the "data visualisation" tab!)
Alex Marshall 8 Years Ago
Si, love the Prezi presentation, it is such a great way to show a lot of information and keep viewers interested, definately on my list of things to learn to use.
Former Member 7 Years Ago
Nice work. You might be interested to wee what we've been doing in Surrey to bring data to life and attract (trap?!) new audiences to use evidence to inform what they do...
Si Chun Lam 7 Years ago in reply to Former Member .
Thanks for sharing the work in Surrey; I like it - especially how they are very consistently and clearly presented.