I’ve been compiling a list of pitfalls that I’ve observed, experienced, and researched. Here are the top ten that I’ve found. These have been inspired by various experts, practitioners, colleagues, and my own students.

Pitfall #1.
Forgetting about your audience. Alienating them by using jargon or industry speak. Making you audience work too hard to understand your message. Not giving your audience a reason to care about your story, message, or takeaway.

Pitfall #2.
Making your work unreadable (small font, not using the proper aspect ratio, or not designing the content for a projected display ).

Pitfall #3.
Not sharing your work with others. Ask others for feedback on your slides and charts.

Pitfall #4.
Presenting too much information for the time allowed for the presentation.

Pitfall #5.
Showing too data on a single slide.

Pitfall #6.
Failing to appropriately use charts and graphs and relying exclusively on tables of numbers.

Pitfall #7.
Showing data that does not say anything. Only use charts that clearly show a trend, relationship, comparison, or composition.

Pitfall #8.
Presenting a chart without an explanation.

Pitfall #9.
Misrepresenting data, by accident or on purpose. Confusing causation with correlation.

Pitfall #10.
Showing too many variables on a single visual display.

Resources

Godin, S. (2007). Really bad PowerPoint (and how to avoid it). Available at: http://www.sethgodin.com/freeprize/reallybad-1.pdf

Paradi, D. (2014). The state of financial presentations 2014 survey. Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/thinkoutsidetheslide/the-state-of-financial-presentations-2014-survey-results

Wong, D. (2011). The Wall Street Journal guide to information graphics: The dos and don’ts of presenting data, facts and figures. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

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