I’m Giving Away Free Data Viz Makeovers

Have a deck full of awful, tired pie charts that aren’t cutting it?  Embarrassed by your monthly sales dashboard? Can’t get your boss to spring for a professional makeover of your signature SEO results?

Here’s the deal

I train organizations all over the country on how to better communicate their data and create effective data visualizations. And for a short period, I am providing completely free makeovers of existing charts for you and your organization.

Here’s the catch

I’m making this offer to obtain new real-world examples of data sets and visualizations for use in my trainings. So, in exchange for my design work, you agree to allow me the use of the data and makeovers however I choose.

“But my data is sensitive and proprietary!” No problem. I’m happy to:

  • Sign any required NDAs.
  • After delivering your makeover, scrub charts of identifying data, logos, color and information resulting in a “generic” version for which you will grant final written approval for me to use.

Note: You must be capable of providing such final approval for your organization…

What else?

  • I’ll look at any data and existing charts, but am most interested in those related to marketing, media, advertising, digital research, sales and any work by agencies.
  • I’m looking for challenges and diversity of information, so I probably won’t be interested in making over 100 identical column charts of monthly sales.
  • My focus is on simplicity of messaging and charts that the average user can create using typical tools; if you’re looking for interactive “data art,” that’s not me.
  • I reserve the right to decline any project or portion of project for any reason.
  • I do need to work around paying projects and trainings, but won’t leave you hanging forever.

Contact me at nolan@nolanhaimscreative.com, and feel free to forward this offer on to anyone else you know. First come, first served!


Categories: Showing Data.

Book Review: Images with Impact

My shelves overflow with books on presentation, graphic design and public speaking, but it has been years since I’ve added one to the collection that is so damn practical and hits the nail on the head over and over when it comes to creating effective presentations.

Kerri L. Ruttenberg is the author of the recently published Images With Impact: Design and Use of Winning Trial Visuals. Kerri is not a designer, but an accomplished trial lawyer who has carved out a niche in her world as an expert in using visual for trials. (Trial graphics is a niche itself in the niche world of presentation design, and an area I know nothing about.) Like so many of us, Kerri kind of fell into the world of presentation. And like many of us, she read and learned from the classic authors which she quotes often from: Nancy Duarte, Garr Reynolds, John Medina. The big difference with this book for me—and the reason why I so enjoyed reading it—is that she has taken all the conventional presentation design wisdom and synthesized it into a practical handbook with real-world examples in practice on nearly every page.

I have grown so weary over the years of reading about Gestalt theory where the author shows the grid of circles and says, “Use the principle of proximity on your slides to indicate relationships,” and moves on without showing examples of exactly how proximity can be used in slide design. Kerri steps in with a quick definition, but then gives a real-world example over two pages where moving an image of a signature closer to a contract clause communicates how the two are connected—the kind of thing you want your jury to clearly understand.

It’s all about the jury

And keeping a focus on the audience—in her world, that is the jury—is what Kerri does constantly throughout this book. Because this is a niche subject and the stakes in this world are so high, the book does more than most in driving home the importance of designing effective presentations for an audience and controlling the flow of information to that audience. As she says, “When I present slides…I control what the jurors see, when they see it, and how much time they have to absorb it.” If I were on trial, this is exactly what I would want my lawyer doing. No matter who your audience is, managing information flow is vital. The situation is made clearer when the audience is a murder trial jury, but even if it’s just an insurance conference audience, you should still build your bullet points so that audience doesn’t get ahead of you.

The book adds to the traditional audience studies (i.e.. Picture Superiority Effect, 3M) with those on juries. For example, apparently jurors immediately forget as much as 2/3 of the facts presented to them and studies show that visuals clearly help in the courtroom. Good trial lawyers also know that jurors tend to take more notes when there are fewer words on the screen.

Legal considerations

I loved learning about Federal Rule of Evidence 403 which essentially means a photo can be excluded from evidence if it is unfairly prejudicial by being too emotional rather than factual. So, while lawyers need to tread carefully and not plaster a photo of the defendant with the words guilty pasted across it, non-lawyers should take this as a reminder of how powerful properly designed imagery and slides can be for audiences.

And then in this context, Kerry discusses what can make an image more emotional—even subconsciously: full bleed, dark backgrounds, faces, etc. Take from that what you will…

Manipulative charts are discussed as well, and some days I wish I could do what Kerri sometimes does: Use her opposing counsel’s visuals against them by pointing out the manipulations and flaws. As she says, “Often you can get a lot more mileage out of using your opponent’s slide than you can from excluding it.” Hence the importance of truly understanding y-axis manipulation on a bar chart.

Text: More and Less

Another topic I see rarely covered in other presentation books is how exactly to harness the amount of content on a slide to your advantage. Sometimes filling a slide with text, such as a huge list of every person a defendant reported unethical behavior to, communicates a message better than a traditional “Presentation Zen” slide. But, of course, a mostly blank slide can do wonders as well like this great example:


(That’s not the start of a build. That’s all there is to the slide.)

There’s Always More to Learn About Design

I learned a ton about trials and evidence, of course, but I also learned a design trick or two. Like if you have two photos of similar looking white dudes, flip one to face the opposite direction to help differentiate them. Going to use that one…


*  *  *

What’s Not to Like?

Did I have moments of disagreement? Sure: you should never embed fonts, but that’s nitpicking. The big problem with the book as it stands now is the price. Published by the American Bar Association, it has a cover price of $129.95, and it’s not discounted at all on Amazon. There are discounts for Bar members, and maybe it will drop in price on Amazon, but obviously that’s kind of a big barrier for someone who doesn’t charge $400/hr and who’s law firm won’t pick up the tab as an expense. But if you can pick up a copy, it’s a great addition to the presentation design canon.

Categories: Books.

Minard for Sale

Daniel Crouch Rare Books has a catalog of various data visualization offerings including a nice  collection of Minard works for a hefty £400,000. Some of the works I was unfamiliar with and yes, a copy of the Napoleon map is one of them. You can purchase the catalog from their site and download a PDF here.


Sharing the Stage with Your Slides (Sally Koering Zimney): The Presentation Podcast Episode #46

The Presentation Podcast


Episode #46, Sharing the Stage with Your Slides welcomes special guest Sally Koering Zimney, speech coach and host of the This Moved Me podcast.

How exactly should one interact or even acknowledge the slides behind you during a presentation?

Sally joins the crew to talk about the little and the big things to consider when sharing the stage with slides.


Subscribe on iTunes and check out the show notes for more info.


Julie Terberg’s #SlideADayProject

The always awesome Julie Terberg is exploring design concepts in her #SlideADayProject over on Twitter. Tons of inspiration and examples of what good presentation design really is. Follow her if you know what’s good for you. Just a few examples below.

Categories: Design, PowerPoint.
visual training presentation