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Data Sucks, Says Who? 16 Creative Data Visualization Techniques to Showcase Your Numbers

Data Sucks, Says Who? 16 Creative Data Visualization Techniques to Showcase Your Numbers



2.5 quintillion bytes of data was estimated to be created every day in 2012. Wonder how many zeros would have joined that mind-boggling number by the present day! There is no denying the fact that data is becoming bigger and bigger, thanks to the digital world we are living in. It is barging at us from all directions- social media, emails, database, machines, sensors, HTML and so on.


Recording, storing and analysing this data is a BIG challenge in itself. When that is done, comes the next equally big challenge of presenting it before the investors, decision makers and the simple masses. That brings us to Data Visualization- the science of presenting data or information in a visually interesting way.


Say if I ask you how do you visually showcase data in your presentations, you would probably answer pie charts, bar graphs and charts. Good enough! Audience is, however, saturated with seeing these graphics now (no doubt that they effectively summarize the data findings). It’s time to up our data visualization skills! Our presentations, business reports, and marketing collateral deserve to tell interesting data stories packaged and presented through creative graphics.


Here are 16 creative data visualization techniques or ways to make people fall in love with and remember your data:


#1- Speedometer Dashboard

What is the speed at which the customer calls are resolved? Speed at which bugs are fixed? Or the current performance of organization sales, leads, KPIs and so on. This data can be depicted no better than with a speedometer dashboard. Give real-time updates of the organization performance and take corrective actions before the organization falls into any kind of trouble. Here’s a speedometer gauge that shows average handle time of a particular call centre:


Average Handle Time in Call Centre- Data Visualization using Speedometer Gauge Dashboard in PowerPoint Slide


Download this Speedometer Dashboard Diagram


The data readings on the gauge can be any number based on your data. For instance, rather than numbers, the below dashboard diagram shows the number of days taken by the sales team to successfully convert a lead to a sale.


Lead to Sales Conversion Average Time- Data Visualization using Speedometer


It’s not at all difficult to create a speedometer gauge yourself. Click the link below to learn how to do it:


Steps to Create Speedometer Dashboard in PowerPoint


#2- Creative Doughnut Charts

Despite being available in PowerPoint, doughnut charts have not received their due. A doughnut chart is the same as pie chart but with an area in the centre that can be used to put information or icons. They have been criticized for making data hard to read but the audience is mature enough to understand the varying lengths of arcs as easily as the varying slices of a pie. 


It’s limited use in presentations and a cleaner look make it a much better option than pie charts. We have nothing against pie charts, it still remains one of the best data visualization tools to show numerical proportion. But we can experiment with graphics a bit to treat our audience to something different this time. You can either use just one doughnut chart and show the numerical proportions or use a single doughnut for a single piece of data like in this slide below:


Favorite Movie Genres- Data Visualization using Doughnut Chart in PPT Slide


Download this Creative Doughnut Chart


The varying sizes of doughnuts itself tell which is the most liked movie genre. The doughnut chart also looks slightly different from standard PowerPoint doughnut chart in that the spaces between slices have been increased to make it look even cleaner.


Here’s another doughnut chart that shows the ad spend across different social media channels:


Social Media Ad Spend- Data Visualization using Doughnut Chart in PowerPoint


Grab this Creative Doughnut Chart


It’s very easy for the marketing manager to know how much percentage of the budget allocated to each channel has been utilized. If your data slides are like these, who would say data sucks!


#3- Creative Pie Charts

Well, even if we have to use pie charts (because that is inevitable) why not make them visually more impactful and interesting for the audience. Just like we had reduced and increased the sizes of the doughnuts as per our data, we can do the same with the slices of the pie. Let the slices mirror the data in terms of length and breath.


The following creative pie chart is a bit difficult to create considering that you’ll have to place the pies manually.


Website Visits Presentation Slide- Data Visualization Using Creative Pie Chart


Grab this Pie Chart Slide


#4- Circular Infographics

You cannot use pie charts where the sum of parts is more than 100 per cent. For instance, surveys where respondents can choose a number of options rather than one. Use of pie charts becomes misleading in this case. An infamous example in this case has been Fox News who used pie chart to show opinion poll for American 2012 elections where the total was 193 per cent!


Circular infographics, by nature of being an infographic, are colorful, eye-catchy and turn numbers into a visual feast:


Content Marketing Metrics- Data Visualization using Circular Diagram Infographic


Download this Circular Infographic Slide


#5- Creative Column Charts

The default PowerPoint charts and graphs with rectangular bars is slowly killing the audience interest in your slide. They have seen it too much. How about trying creative visual charts this time! All you have to do is adapt the default column chart or bar graph to the data you are presenting.


For instance, this column chart on quarterly review of four most popular fast food chains just adds shapes to the chart to make it resemble a fork. Your real estate data could do with buildings instead of rectangular bars, sales data could do with a stack of dollar notes, and so on. Just a little thought to the design and you will be a data visualization expert in no time!


Quarterly Review of Fast Food Chains- Data Visualization using Creative Column Chart


Grab this Creative Column Chart


Thinking how you can create such charts for your next presentation? Learn these 6 design hacks to turn boring PowerPoint charts into creative picture charts.


#6- Thermometer

Thermometer is a nice visual metaphor to show data readings. The top of the thermometer represents the goal and the mercury level shows your current position. Often used in Crowdfunding presentation to show the funding goals and the funds received till now. Here’s an example of donations received via crowdfunding for different projects:


You can use the creative concept of thermometers for any presentation related to targets and achievements (sales presentations for instance.)


Crowdfunding- Funds Received for Donation-Based Projects- Creative Data Visualization using Thermometer Diagram


Download this Thermometer Diagram


#7- Cylinders

Again a metaphor for targets achieved and goals. The filling can show the sales closed by the sales representative, cash flow from different sources, and many more business concepts. Here’s a cash flow summary slide that uses this creative cylinder graphic and stands out from the usual boring data-ridden finance slides.


Cash Flow Summary- Data Visualization using Cylinders


Use this Cylinder Diagram


#8- Batteries

Charge up your presentation data with PowerPoint batteries. Here is an example of employee satisfaction survey findings of an organization that could have traditionally been shown in the form of a pie chart. But since you are telling how charged or unsatisfied the employees are, why not use a battery diagram like this:


Employee Satisfaction Survey- Data Visualization using Battery Diagram


Download this Creative Battery Diagram


Each bar in the battery represents 10%. Of course, a small drawback of this creative diagram is the difficulty in differentiation if numbers are close to each other. You would probably show 7% and 12% as one colored bar. A pie chart can show such differences accurately. Creative visualization has its own advantages- audience will appreciate the efforts you put in designing the deck and remember the data (nobody would remember the pie sizes but easily remember the growth in bars).


#9- Progress Bars

Showcase the progress of different tasks in your weekly or monthly reports with a progress meter. This is so simple to create- just a simple rectangle bar and the data depicted in a different color.


Progress of Tasks- Data Visualization Progress Meter



#10- Measuring Scale

Product research and marketing teams often conduct surveys within a company and outside to gauge the feedback of internal and external public. The respondents are asked a series of questions on different product parameters and are asked to rate their feedback on a score of 1 to 10. The team then analyses the feedback and presents the same before the decision makers, team leads and CEO. Such survey findings can easily be depicted through the same data visualization technique employed during research i.e. Scoring Scale.  


Product Ratings- Data Visualization using Measuring Scale


Download this Measuring Scale Slide


#11- Weighing Scales

Show comparative data with a weighing scale. HR metrics presentation can easily employ a balance scale to show workforce diversity like in the example below. Icons can be added on the scales to make it visually more interesting. Inequality between any two sets of data can be represented using this data visualization technique:


Worforce Diversity by Gender- Data Visualization using Balance Scale


Grab this Weighing Scale Graphic

#12- Icons

Taking a cue from the above example, any data on employees can be depicted by showing their icons. Icons become a visual element in themselves and do not warrant any additional image or graphic to convey the meaning.


You can visually depict the percentage number (90%) or the information (say 9 out of 10 employees are disengaged) by showing the same number of icons in your slide i.e. 9. For instance, here’s a slide on percentage growth in hiring of various categories of employees:


Percentage Growth in Hiring Employees- Data Visualization


Download this Infographic Slide


You might be thinking- what if my data is not in perfects tens but something like 32.2%, 10.4 % and 57.4%. What do you do in this case? One way is to round off the numbers- 32.2% will still be represented as 3 icons and 57.4% as 6 icons.


The audience is mature enough to understand that you won’t giving a perfect representation of such a data. The other way to work around this data is to use larger icons and fill portion of the icons as per your data. For example, as done in the slide below. Trust us, the audience will not take a scale to see if the filling is done with precision. You must, however, be fairly accurate while showcasing your data in this manner.


KPI Targets Achieved- Data Visualization


Grab this Creative Picture Chart


#13- Tags and Arrows

Rather than using circular shapes like doughnuts and pie charts, you could also create your own shapes like rectangular tags as you see in the slide below. Showcase growth in any business activity by increasing the sizes of the tags. The example below may not be the most apt for this diagram but the idea is to emphasise the point- don’t use just numbers and text in your slide. Add any visual element of your interest as it forces the audience to pay extra attention to your information.


Benefits of Big Data- Data Visualization


Download this Percentage Slide


If you are speaking of growth, why not simplify the graphic and show just upward and downward arrows instead:


Ad Spend Growth Advertising Media- Data Visualization


#14- Squares

The purpose of using rectangular tags and squares is that no one has used them before. You can depart from the conventional data visualization styles to make your data look more interesting. Here are stacks of squares with the filled squares representing specific data.

Renewable Energy Goals- Data visualization


Download this Creative Percentage Chart


#15- Indicators or Sliders

You often need to create Business Indicators dashboard for your presentation. While speedometers, pie charts, graphs and charts, and other visualization will hold a prominent place in your data summary, you can also use indicators or vertical and horizontal sliders to show the rise and fall in a performance metric as well as monitoring and adjustments made to different processes.


Energy Efficiency- Data Visualization


Download this Indicators Diagram

#16- Test Tubes

Labs are not the only place where test tubes belong. An effective visual metaphor, test tubes can easily depict the sales or leads converted till date, traffic generated, or inflow of any business concept such as cash inflow.


Lead Conversion- Data Visualization using Test Tube


Download this Test Tubes Diagram


There can be hundred more ways to visualize the data. It all depends on your creativity. These 16 data visualization graphics, we hope, will get you started in exploring the creative side of data visualization. Trust us, using innovative graphics will add power to your data and the audience won’t fail to notice and appreciate your work. Data rocks if you know the right way to present it!


Tell us what you think of these data visualization techniques in the comments below.


If you liked the ideas, please share it with your followers. Here’s a pre-populated tweet to get you started.


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328 thoughts on “Data Sucks, Says Who? 16 Creative Data Visualization Techniques to Showcase Your Numbers”
    1. slideteam
      Thanks Kapil!! :)
      1. slideteam
        Thank you!
  1. Namratha
    Wow really good to hold audience attention...
    1. slideteam
      Thank you Namratha! Glad you liked the ideas :)
  2. Sahil
    Really creative ideas...thanks.
    1. slideteam
      Totally our pleasure, Sahil! Glad you liked the ideas.
  3. ajit
    interesting ideas really.
    1. slideteam
      Thank you Ajit!!
        1. slideteam
          Our pleasure! :)
  4. Ana
    Thanks for sharing!
    1. slideteam
      Our pleasure, Ana!!
  5. alejandra
    thank you for this valuable data!
    1. slideteam
      Most welcome, Alejandra! :)
  6. Sunil
    Nice collection. Thanks.
    Which of these are data driven charts and which ones are graphics?
    1. slideteam
      Hi Sunil, the creative column chart is excel linked. The rest have to be manually edited. But all are editable templates. We have many excel linked data driven charts on our website. Most in this post are creative visualisations that have to be manually edited.
  7. Blackexotic
    It's useful..
    1. slideteam
      Thank you so much! :)
    Its awesome. Thank you.
    1. slideteam
      Thank you Normilah! :)
    1. slideteam
      Most welcome! :)
  9. Marie
    Some interesting alternatives to the norm! Thanks
    1. slideteam
      Glad you liked them, Marie!
    1. slideteam
      Hello Evans, how can we help you?
    1. slideteam
      Thank you Paula!
    1. slideteam
      Thank you Sandeep!
    1. slideteam
      Most welcome, Adam!
  10. rebecca norton
    great info
    1. slideteam
      Thank you Rebecca!
    1. slideteam
      Thank you Paula!
    1. slideteam
      Thanks Andzy!
    1. slideteam
      Thank you Helen and you are most welcome. :)
    1. slideteam
      Most welcome, Kevin! :)
  11. joshua scott
    1. slideteam
      Thanks a ton, Joshua!
  12. adriana
    great data visualization techniques.
    Thank you!
    1. slideteam
      You are most welcome, Adriana! Glad you liked them.
    1. slideteam
      Thanks Steve!
    1. slideteam
      Thank you!
  13. stuart hawke
    good site
    1. slideteam
      Thanks Stuart!
  14. jamie
    get me my badge
    1. slideteam
      Hi Jamie, thanks for reaching out. We don't have a badge for our readers but do check out free templates as a thank you from us. :)
  15. Jeannie Smith
    1. slideteam
      Thank you, Jeannie!
  16. Dave Parker
    Really interesting document!
    1. slideteam
      Thanks Dave!
  17. Melanie Thomas
    Really interesting
    1. slideteam
      Thanks Melanie!
  18. Jo Ainsley
    really interesting
    1. slideteam
      Thank you, Jo!
  19. sally
    thanks for the info
    1. slideteam
      Our pleasure, Sally!
  20. Wendy
    really interesting...
    1. slideteam
      Thank you, Wendy!
  21. Emma Morl
    Great Stuff!!
    1. slideteam
      Thanks a lot, Emma!
    1. slideteam
      Most welcome, Shel ! :)
  22. dawn durning
    1. slideteam
      Thank you, Dawn! :)
  23. stephanie
    great :)
    1. slideteam
      Thank you Stephanie. :)
    1. slideteam
      Thank you!
    1. slideteam
      That's great!
  24. Erica Burton
    Its was interesting enjoyed
    1. slideteam
      Glad to hear that, Erica!
  25. Mohsin Raja
    Thank you.
    1. slideteam
      Most welcome, Mohsin!
    1. slideteam
      Most welcome, Clair!
    1. slideteam
      Welcome, Lisa!
    1. slideteam
      Awesome! :)
    1. slideteam
      Thank you, Tala!
      1. vicki lawrence
        vicki lawrence
        1. slideteam
          Most Welcome Vicki! Stay Tuned.
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