Activity: Try out Visual Presentation Techniques

Picking a visual presentation technique is hard.  We’ve been trained to think a bar-chart is the right answer for every situation, but in fact we need to be driven by the audience and goals for any presentation.  This activity introduces a list of presentation techniques, and increases participants’ ability to choose and use an appropriate presentation technique (based on their audience and goals).  It also helps people realize that the same story can be told in multiple ways, and gives participants experience using those multiple presentation techniques.

What you need:

How you do it:

Begin by running through our categories of visual presentation techniques, each with a real world example:

  • showcase a personal story
  • chart your data
  • map your data
  • make a creative map
  • make a creative chart
  • make a data sculpture
  • make a real-world data game


Hand out the “picking a presentation technique worksheet”.  Next introduce a real dataset that the audience can relate to.  Now break everyone into seven groups, assigning each one a presentation technique.  Give them 10 minutes to brainstorm ways to apply that technique to the dataset, and what audience that might be appropriate for.  Offer them paper if they need it, but don’t put it on every table (otherwise everyone draws instead of thinking in 3D).

Go around the room having each team give a 2 minute summary of their idea.  Listen for similarities and differences in decisions driven by the data, technique, and audience suggested.

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