By Randall Bolten, longtime Silicon Valley CFO, author of "Painting with Numbers: Presenting Financials and Other Numbers So People Will Understand You” and adjunct professor at U.C. Berkeley Extension
Is there anything about your graph that might cause your audience to question your agenda or even your honesty?
Why is it that graphs are so much more likely than tables are to provoking audience suspicion about your agenda? First of all, the whole point of a graph is usually to emphasise a single, critical point you’re trying to make. Your audience may be acutely aware that you’re in “persuade” mode, so be careful about appearing to oversimplify a complex problem or cherry-pick your data. Second, graphs offer an immense range of choices, including axis scaling, chart types, color and other visual effects, and much more. Each one of those many choices can send its own meaning to your audience. So be careful out there!