Feb 19, 2014

Classic Chart Trick the Presenter plays on You

I keep writing about what you should do as a presenter. But most of the times you are part of the audience and someone else is presenting to you. In this post I talk about 1 trick the presenter is playing on you. Beware!

Here is a chart which I came across a few days back. Check out how the conversation shaped up after it was presented.



Presenter: "Look at the outstanding growth we have achieved in 2013 over 2012. A growth of 20%. We have really done well as a company."

My Colleague: "You have done well. But why does the growth look so high on this chart? The graph makes me feel the growth is way more than 20%."

At this point, everyone in the audience realized the trick that was being played upon them. Have you got it yet? Look closely.

The growth 'looks' stunning because the bar graph has been 'tweaked'. The Y-axis is not starting at 0. See what happens if we change the axis to 0.

This is the proper graph which 'should have been' presented to us. But the objective of the presenter was to impress the audience and they were not happy seeing this chart. So they took some 'creative liberty'.


When we make a chart in Excel or PowerPoint, by default, the axis usually starts at 0. How did the presenter change the chart axis then?