Top 10 Data Visualization Tricks

I recently attended a session on data visualization by none other than Lea Pica (thanks to the kind folks at Search Discovery Education Community — SDEC). In this post, I will share the top 10 tricks I picked up from Lea’s presentation.

Before working on the story you’ll present, think through who the attendees are and what they are looking for. If there are both finance and marketing folks in the room, they will likely have different agendas. Address the details for them in the appendix or have separate meetings to cater the presentation to each group.

The throughline is an invisible thread that binds your story together. The biggest failure occurs when attendees do not know why they are listening to you. An example she shared was

“Our Q3 A/B testing netted a positive gain of 16% in conversion, and could continue to grow another 10% in Q4 with our new test recommendations.”

3. Avoid using bullets on slides.

Yeah, you read that right. Definietly no paragraphs on slides and no bullets either! Bullets serve the presenter more than the audience. Instead Lea suggests restricting a slide to one idea.

1 Slide = 1 Idea

1 Slide = 1 Idea (Courtesy: Lea Pica)

This helps tell the story better as compared to a slide with a couple of bullets that your audience reads before you get to them. For more on this, visit

Resist adding fluff like logos, page numbers etc. on your slides. Counter intuitive? Very! As per Lea, these fill up your slides and don’t serve a purpose.

Powerful and relevant imagery increases recall, especially images that look like your target market.

Lea gave an example where you can replace bullets (left) with a powerful image with data (right).

Replace bullets with images (Courtesy: Lea Pica)

Remove unnecessary axes titles, grids. Here’s an example Lea shared to “detox” your chart and emphasize your story.

Lea mainly uses Microsoft Powerpoint and finds that to be adequate for most visualization needs.

Don’t share the deep analysis you have done as few in the audience will be interested in knowing the details.

Don’t immediately start out on a powerpoint. Think through the story you plan to tell on paper (or any other medium that works for you). Fine tune it before moving to powerpoint.

When presenting bad results, be frank but also be optimistic about your learnings and next steps. Your energy is super important. Bad results are perceived based on your energy.

These were my key takeaways from the session and I certainly plan to apply them, especially the 1 slide = 1 idea one. What are some tricks that work for you?

(If you are in the analytics space or even loosely involved with data, you should join SDEC.)

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