A well-designed chart can be one of the most persuasive elements of your trade show booth display and literature. It illustrates to your customers why your product is the obvious solution to one of their specific needs. It can communicate major benefits or features more clearly than words can.

To make a great chart, you need to create a clear, compelling picture of the data that will call your customers to action. Your chart’s message must be easy for them to understand without having to study it. Three of the most easily understood chart types are:

1) Bar charts

Bar charts are an excellent method of comparing groups of data. Each data group can consist of a single bar for simple comparisons, or multiple bars breaking information down into subcategories for more in-depth analysis.

Bar charts are easy to interpret because most people are already familiar with seeing data in this format. You can use bar charts to emphasize the data represented by the tallest bar, the shortest bar, the overall trend of the bars, or a change in the bars caused by a certain variable.

2) Pie charts

Pie charts are useful for showing percentages of a greater whole. In a pie chart, the entire pie represents the total data, and each “slice” represents data from a particular group within the whole.

A pie chart is straightforward and easy to understand. It provides a clear visualization of the data class that represents the largest percentage of the whole (represented by the largest piece of the pie), and the relative value of each of the other data classes.

3) Line graphs (also called run charts)

Line graphs show or compare trends, cycles, increases, and decreases over time. Typically, a line graph shows events on the y-axis affected by time on the x-axis. Often a line representing an average of the data charted is included as a reference point. Or multiple lines may be charted on a line graph, with each representing a different product or variable.

Tips for a Successful Chart

Be sure your chart compares your data on an equal basis. Use the same scale for all data categories in one chart (for example, comparing data measured in dollars with data measured in hundreds of dollars isn’t equal). And use a consistent interval between your data categories (measuring one-week intervals against 5-week intervals isn’t an accurate comparison).

Use charts to communicate the significance of your statistics. Some statistics you may want to highlight in your chart are:

Mean value (the average point of all data).

Maximum value (the maximum data point in the series).

Minimum value (the minimum data point in the series).

Sample size (the total number of data points in the series).

Range of data (the maximum value minus the minimum value).

Standard deviation (how widely data are spread around the mean).

Once you’ve chosen the best type of chart for the data you want to show your customers, remember to keep your graphic as simple as possible. Trade show customers are assaulted by thousands of images. Don’t compare too many things, or include too many categories of data. Your goal is to educate your customers, not confuse them.

And resist the temptation to add fancy extras like pictures and 3-D effects if they make the chart look busy. If a chart is too detailed or cluttered, customers won’t invest the effort required to figure it out. They’ll bypass it as a technical output of mumbo-jumbo, and move on to something that clearly and compellingly calls them to take a closer look at a product.

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