Do your reports and metrics miss the mark? Do the high points you thought obvious seem to get lost in your report or presentation? It might be how you present the message?

Never assume that your table, chart, or picture are telling the story you believe it is telling when presenting or reporting. The story tellers call this subtext.  It’s the gap between what you know and what the audience does not.  Your materials need to fill the gap for the audience by drawing their attention to it. Use bold Marker Style Callout notes to direct attention on exactly what you need them to see.

Don’t over emphasize.  Be sure to limit the amount of attention you are giving to one chart. Additionally, don’t overwhelm them with too many “gotchas”. One overarching message is a lot more impactful than many peppered comments.

Before the BLING


After the BLING

Notice, for this example, that the RFI chart emphasizes that there is no current impact.   The reader immediately knows that their attention may go elsewhere – known in the south as a no-never-mind. In the Change Order log, the reader is being told that there is a potential for future risk and oversight is needed. The reader knows to look out for PCN’s (Change Orders) but it is not an imminent threat. Lastly, the task manager identifies the person and the tasks that are open. The reader needs to know who to contact and what issues need to be resolved. This slide does it all in one fell swoop.

How to Convey the Right Message

Microsoft’s Windows Accessories has both a Snipping Tool and Paint program. Both come with Microsoft Office and both are simple to use.

Snipping Tool

  1. Open Snipping Tool

Note: Be sure the Snipping Tool is open on the screen where your chart/graph/pic resides

  1. Select New
  2. Highlight the image
  3. Copy the image to be used later

Now, go to Paint and…

  1. Paste the image inside of the window
  2. Use the text box and different shapes to capture your message

If cut/paste from various softwares is too much of a pain, or if you need to make a quick point, use PowerPoint or Excel’s Insert/Shape feature and markup with the equivalent of a pack of colorful Sharpie markers.  Here’s a quick link to how…

Whether you are placing your image into a Word doc, PowerPoint, or email, the message goes a long way in winning over your audience.