PowerPoint Chart: How to choose the right one

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Do you know how to choose the right PowerPoint chart to convey your ideas effectively? Discover a simple way to select or create the right chart for your needs. This is the first of the two part article.

Is the tail wagging the dog?

We’ve seen many presenters cutting and chopping their ideas to fit them into a cool looking PowerPoint chart. The result usually is a messy chart and a tired presenter.

If you want to convey your message effectively, your ideas should determine the chart type and not the other way around. This article will show you how.

Inappropriate chart selection is usually the result of inadequate definition of the underlying relationship. Let’s discover a simple way to define the relationship right.

8 basic relationship categories:

Most relationships between elements fall under one of the 8categories. These categories are not exhaustive. But, they definitely cover the most common types. So, if you can recognize these basic relationships, you’ll more or less get your chart selection right. The basic relationship categories are:

  1. Hierarchy
  2. Cause and effect
  3. Flow
  4. Part - whole
  5. Compare and Contrast
  6. Filters and funnels
  7. Matrix and
  8. List

We will explore the first 4 relationships in this article and the next 4 in the second part.

In the following examples, we’ll use 5 random objects – A, B, C, D and E and define their relationships.

1.    Hierarchy Relationship:

In this relationship type, objects differ in their levels. For example, A is at a higher level than B which in turn is at a higher level than C, D and E.

PowerPoint chart Hierarchy

A common representation of this type of relationship is an organization chart. But, there are a number of variations to depict the levels. For example:

 PowerPoint Hierarchy Charts

View more Pyramid Diagrams from CEO Pack here

The levels could be shown as steps in a pyramid, rungs in a ladder, discs arranged one on top of the other, steps leading to the top and so on.

Do the objects in your relationship fall at different levels? Then choose a chart that shows hierarchy.

2.    Cause and effect

Cause and effect Analysis 

In this, the relationship between objects is cause and effect. For example, in the above chart – B, C, D and E cause A (effect).

The specific relationship could be convergence, divergence or linear impact. Take a look at some examples:

 powerpoint cause and effect diagrams from ceo pack

View More Cause Effect Diagrams from the PowerPoint CEO Pack

Is there are a cause and effect relationship in the objects you are trying to define? Then, choose a chart type that depicts the specific relationship.

3.    Flow Relationship

This is probably the most common type of relationship. There are tons of variations in the relationship. You need to choose a chart that describes the specific flow type accurately.

          PowerPoint Flow Diagram 

In the above relationship – A, B, C, D and E represent 5 steps in a linear process flow. The flow could be a simple cyclical process or a complex looped process.

 PowerPOint Flow Diagrams from CEO Pack

View more Process Diagrams from CEO Pack here...

The operating words that describe this relationship are ‘change and movement’. There could be transformation in the nature of the object along the flow – like it happens in a brand transformation. There could be growth or decline in the object along the flow like in a spiral diagram. There could be just a movement from point A to point B along a path, like in bridge diagram:

Study your objects closely and define their specific flow type accurately.

4.    Part – Whole

In this, one object is part of the other. For example take a look at this onion diagram:

Onion Diagram Parts of Whole

E is part of D, which in turn is part of C and so on. The word that captures the relationship type is ‘Interdependency’.

There are many variations in this relationship type.

Some common variations are: Overlapping relationships like Venn diagram, Parts of an idea like a propeller diagram, Pillars of a temple diagram, Pieces of a puzzle diagram etc.

Propellar Diagram

Browse more Pillar Diagrams from the PowerPoint CEO Pack

Take a careful look at the part – whole relationship between your objects and choose the chart type wisely.

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Conclusion about PowerPoint Charts:

Thought there are a number of variations in the type of charts used, the underlying relationship is fairly simple. Defining the relationship right is the first step in choosing appropriate PowerPoint chart type.

Read the Other Chart Types in Part 2...

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