Simplify tables and other numerically based visual aids

A table is a good visual device to show choices between categories of information. However, in print format, users can refer repeatedly to tables if they need to reference information; during an oral presentation, they can't.

Spreadsheets or tables containing too much information have the potential to become the worst type of visual aid possible. Audiences simply cannot assimilate all of those columns and rows. Furthermore, overloaded tables can be difficult to read on a screen. Never ever plan to include such material with the comment, "I know you can't read this, but. . ."!

If you must share complex information in table format, make a simpler version for the talk and bring along handouts of more complex or detailed tables for your audience to review later if they wish.

Bar charts, line graphs, and pie charts need similar simplification. Watch not to use too many different types of shading and screening to separate their components. When these visual aids are kept simple, clear, and easy to read, they can pack a lot of information into a concise format. Again, save complex details for handouts.

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