Communicate Visually with Infographics

Last week we discussed the powerful influence imagery can have on presentations. Other than photography, what are other options for using imagery to replace text on screen? In the case of displaying data, or contrasting ideas, infographics may be very useful.

Principle #2b: Communicate Visually with Infographics

As defined by Wikipedia, “information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly. They can improve cognition by utilizing graphics to enhance the human visual system’s ability to see patterns and trends. The process of creating infographics can be referred to as data visualization, information design, or information architecture.1

That’s a long way of saying that an infographic visually illustrates a complex idea or system. Used properly, infographics can dramatically improve your lecture by simplifying processes you are describing, visually showing relationships between ideas, and creating another mnemonic device for your audience.

Back in week 1 of our PowerPoint Design Series, we shared a slide titled There are More Chickens than People in the World.

Example 1: Slide created with text content from Snapple®’s infographic:

visual.ly_chickens

Reference: Visual.ly

Compare that all-text slide with this information graphic created by Snapple®:

Example 2: Portion of infographic, courtesy of Snapple®

visual.ly_chickens_infographic_crop

Reference: Visual.ly

Which one is more memorable and thought-provoking?

The infographic above displays the content in a way that is easier to grasp much more quickly (see the entire graphic here). The illustration takes facts that are relevant on a timeline and represents them visually so they are easier to grasp. Simpler examples of infographics are charts, such as bar charts and pie charts, which are easy to create within PowerPoint.

In reference to a study regarding “how students accessed PowerPoint slides if they were used or made available2” by faculty, compare the results displayed in text format…

ppt_study_text…versus a chart created in PowerPoint:

ppt_study_chartSo where to begin? First review your slides and determine the content or data which may be better understood using an infographic. Keep in mind that your graphic’s primary purpose is to make the information comprehensible to your audience. More importantly, your task is to make the data easier to understand. Don’t forget that as you revise your slides, you can hide notes during your presentation, and then make that text available to the audience later.

References

  1. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved January 13, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infographic
  2. Use of PowerPoint slides and quizzes by economics faculty. (n.d.). In Free Patents Online: IP Research & Communities. Retrieved January 13, 2015, from http://www.freepatentsonline.com/article/Journal-Economics-Economic-Education-Research/241946052.html