As a marketer, you’ve become accustomed to compiling all sorts of reports and putting together briefs, campaign presentations and data sheets. While some of them are used as building blocks for your activity, others are designed to convey results and ideas to your peers or to your superiors. In most instances, the people you are presenting to do not come from the same background as you, which might make it harder for them to follow your reports and presentations.
To get their attention and, more importantly, to get your ideas across, you’ll need to simplify data, draw connections to what they already know and translate your presentation to everyone’s understanding.
Visual design is an universal language that can help you do just that - connect the dots between important marketing data points and business conclusions that everyone sitting in that presentation can follow. In fact, in a survey conducted by TDWI, 74% of respondents believed data visualization to be responsible for a “very high” or “high” increase in business user insights.
Here are some practical ways to incorporate visual data into your reports, for everyone to understand and remember:
1. Keep your design template simple
Simplicity in design will allow your audience to focus on your data. Since most reports are comprised of many metrics and data points, this will make it easier to draw attention to the data itself, without confusing viewers with too many graphical elements and colors.
Keep a basic color palette throughout your template, use sans serif fonts that are easy to follow and visible, and save graphic elements for the illustration of the actual data. Clarity over document beautification.
2. Start with an overview
Attention is a fickle thing. Most people will be paying more of it in the beginning of your presentation, so it’s best to start with an overview of your report, supporting its general presentation.
For example, if you’re delivering a campaign results report, start with the purpose of the campaign and the key metrics that have been met (or not met). Then, you can delve into details for specific tactics and channels.
3. Use geometric shapes
The human eye easily recognizes these shapes. Conveying complex data and numbers using geometric shapes will make it easier for your audience to process.
Designers use shapes to:
- Organize information through connection and separation
- Symbolize different ideas
- Create movement, texture, and depth
- Convey mood and emotion
- Emphasize and create entry points and areas of interest
- Lead the eye from one design element to the next
You’ll notice in the examples below that geometric shapes organize information by separating it and, in other cases, connecting it.
4. Take a break from data
If your report is extremely technical, you might find it useful to have a break in your presentation. This can be a video, an image, a story or anything else that can relax the audience and recharge their attention.
In the example of the marketing campaign, presenting one of the media videos can be a great way to achieve that.
5. Get their attention back with a human face
If your report is a bit too long, you’ll probably know at what point the audience will be most likely to lose interest. A trick to get it back is to insert a human face in your presentation.
Our brains are made to find faces. In fact, they’re so good at picking out human-like traits we sometimes see them in scenery images or abstract drawings.
For example, you can include a mention about a team member that supervised a part of the project and their conclusions. Or you can include a social media image used in your campaign, that contains human faces.
What other tips and tricks have you tried to make your reports stand out?