Most organisations have a communication culture in which charts play a major role. Charts being graphical exhibits, often PowerPoint or Keynote slides, that professionals use to present their ideas and their data.

Why is this so common?

Because a chart – a skillfully prepared one – helps to make a point. Which is of course something that most people want in order to have impact, influence, at least relevance. A chart clearly lays out key information bits that lead to its overall message. Anyone can grasp them quickly, while a presenter may provide further details and weave the main point into a governing story.

Improvised charts, on the other hand, won’t help here, when that actual point is not clear on them. Then people start deciphering information, figure out how things make sense or whether they are true, and that is how they lose the plot. They stop listening and lose the flow, which is the desirable state of mind to take in a story at a reasonable depth of detail. Hence this sort of not-so-clear slides will at most deliver a blurred image of the point and thus struggle to win supporters for it.

In a profession rich in content, e.g., consulting, your take on a complex issue may require multiple points or a sequence of sub-points. In such a case you bring as many charts – a whole slide deck. Now, again, this will work best, if your slides clearly convey each and every one of these points. We all have seen people fail with this (#Death by PowerPoint).

At the core, a slide is a medium of communication. And communication is not just sharing facts, but also convincing others and guiding them to do something.