Nov 28, 2011

Showcasing a product: Part II

I had written about showcasing a product on a slide a few weeks back. We have a product image on the slide, how do we make it more appealing. The trick was 'reflection'. Using this effect we create a feel that the product is lying on a glass surface.

After writing about it, I have been more watchful to see this effect in real life. I happened to see this effect being employed by many companies. See the image above, it has been taken from the website of Videocon, a large business house in India. This one is from the website of Phillips.
The bulb image without the reflection might have looked a bit boring. A reflection below brings in a bit of 3D effect, makes it more realistic. Check out one more from the website.
Check this last one out (from Samsung Mobile website).

A quick recap on how to add reflection in MS PowerPoint 2010. Select the image -> Go to Picture Tools tab on top -> Choose Format -> Under Picture Styles choose Picture Effects -> Reflection -> Choose the first option (which has the least reflection)

Nov 22, 2011

Free E-book: Myth of the Garage

My favourite authors Chip & Dan Heath and come up with a free E-book. It's called Myth of the Garage. Ignore the confusing name, the e-book is a collection of 15-20 small articles. Each one is interesting in its own way. Some of the articles are relevent for presenters. Let us look at one article 'The Gripping Statistic'. I have captured the essence of the article below (and also used my own example):

'The Gripping Statistic'
If we are communicating large numbers (billions and millions) we need to make them understandable to the audience. The authors say, "A number people can grasp is a number that can make a difference."

What do you mean by the statement 'Indians consume 15 million tonnes of cooking oil every year'? The number is too big to be comprehensible. Communicators need to bring these large numbers closer to people's day to day experience so that it can be understood. How do we bring the 15 million tonnes closer to earth? One possible attempt:

India's population is 1210 million and we consume 15 million tonnes of oil every year. Hence, on an average every Indian consumes 12.4 kilograms of cooking oil per year. Which means almost 1 kg every month. This is a more down to earth number which our audience can understand.

Talking of large numbers, we have all come across 7 billion. The world population is now 7 billion. What does 7 billion mean? National Geographic has tried to answer this through a nice video. Here are some of their statements:

It would take 200 years just to count 7 billion out loud.
7 billion steps will take us 133 times around the Earth.
Standing shoulder to shoulder 7 billion people will fill the city of Los Angeles

Watch the Nat Geo video here:

Of the three statements, the second one is not comprehensible. It is only impressive but makes no sense. Does anyone have any idea what going around the Earth mean? The last one makes us feel 7 billion is smaller than we think. The first one seems most understandable. If I had to count all the people on Earth I will take 200 years. The reason we understand this because we know how long an year is.

When we simplify a large number, we need to convert it into a smaller number which our audience comes across in their day to day life.

Download the free e-book by clicking here. It's highly recommended.

Nov 10, 2011

Presenting complex excel sheets: Go one step at a time

Many a times the information we present is complex. We might have a complex excel sheet or set of data which if shown at once can leave the audience puzzled.

Imagine showing an excel sheet with 10 columns of calculations. Normally you present the entire excel on the slide and then talk the audience through it. This is tough for your audience to comprehend. A better way is to break down the table into smaller pieces of data.

Taking the 10 excel columns example. You might want to present 2 columns first and explain what it is. From now on, you keep revealing one column after the other (step by step) while you provide explanation. This step by step method basically mirrors the way you made your calculations in excel sheet. You added one column after another. You never started the analysis with 10 columns. Then why show the audience all the 10 columns at once? Take them through the journey the way you went on the same. One step at a time.

Image Source: Evgeni Dinev

Nov 9, 2011

PPT Tip: Showcasing a product

You need to display your product image (or product label) in your presentation. How do you do that in a manner which makes it 'presentable' and 'attractive'?

Just showing the product is one option but this does not always look attractive. Here are two sample images:
The one on the right is more attractive to the eye. The effect which has been used to achieve this look is 'reflection' under picture effects. In MS PowerPoint 2010, select the image -> Under Format tab -> Picture Effects -> Reflection -> Choose the first option (which has the least reflection).

There are other options as well. You can try out the shadow effect (also available under Format tab). The shadow brings more life into the image and the products seems to be in 3D.

Nov 5, 2011

Visualise This: How to show 'gaps'?

Yesterday I made a presentation. On one of the slides, was this information.

This is a simple table which depicts the demand and supply of a product in 2001 and 2010. There has been a significant jump in the Gap (in absolute terms) and the presenter has to talk about the 'increase in gap'. This gap has to be emphasized.

How does on present this information?

1. Make a table, or
2. Make a bar chart, or
3. Make a line chart

Let us draw the bar chart and see how that looks.

Let us now see how the line chart will look.

How would you present this information? Will you opt for the table, the bar or the line chart or something else? The bar chart is used when we compare data. Since this slide is about comparison, bar serves the purpose. The line chart also does the job because it shows kind of a movement from 2001 to 2010.

What did I do? I stuck to the old school table, purely because there are very few pieces of data in the table. In all just 6 data points. This is comprehensible. A visual approach might be needed when we have too many data points and it is tough to understand the essence from the table.

Before we conclude, there is one more option I can think of. A customized bar chart.

In the same bar chart, insert shapes (yellow) and connect them with dots. This will help audience focus on the growth in gap and the lines will carry their eyes from the small yellow to the bigger yellow. This customized version looks a bit more appealing to me than the other options. What do you feel?