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Concepts

Flying through

Flying through

With a bit of Photoshop editing you can create an effect of a PowerPoint shape flying through some loop. I uploaded a new slide to the template store that uses this effect. Over the arrow, I positioned a second layer of the image, but just with a piece of rope with its background isolated. The arrow expanding outside the frame of the image (yes, I look those), adds to the motion feel in the slide.

Click the image to find the slide on the template store, subscribers can download it free of charge.


Cover image by Blake Wheeler on Unsplash

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Sensitivity analysis in PowerPoint

Sensitivity analysis in PowerPoint

Today, I am adding a simple table to the store to show the sensitivity of an analysis. Each cell in the table shows an outcome of an analysis with a slight variation on 2 critical input variables. I used this type of a slide a lot in discounted cash flow valuation models, where assumptions about discount rates and assumed perpetual growth could make a significant impact on the outcome of your analysis.

The base case scenario is put very prominently in the centre of the table, it is the anchor for the viewer from which to start studying the other scenarios. I prefer making these type of charts manually, and not via a blanket copy-paste out of an Excel sheet. In that way, you have to think about whether each cell in the table is meaningful, and you can make sure that the data is formatted and rounded in the best way.

You can download this sensitivity analysis from the store, subscribers can do so free of charge.


Cover image by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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Risk matrix in PowerPoint

Risk matrix in PowerPoint

I am continuing to tick off the standard presentation frameworks in the store, yesterday I added a PowerPoint template for a risk matrix. The matrix has 2 axes: one for the probability that a disaster happens, the other one how severe it would be if it were to happen.

The matrix is designed in true SlideMagic style: not very fancy, but highly symmetrical, usable, and adaptable to your everyday presentations. You can download the slide here, subscribers can do so free of charge. Feel free to adjust the axis titles, labels, or dim the bright traffic light style colours to your taste and needs.


Cover image by JC Dela Cuesta on Unsplash

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A prism that shows what's inside

A prism that shows what's inside

I have used the prism visual metaphor a few times in my client's presentations to show how rich, intricate, subtle components are present in a service or product that might not be apparent from the outside. Below is an attempt at a minimalist pyramid in PowerPoint (roughly modelled based on the cover of that Pink Floyd album).

I simplified the laws of physics here and there, the tricky bit was to get the blue shape inside the triangle right. I added the slide to the template store yesterday, you can find it ready for download here, and subscribers can do so free of charge.


Cover image via WikiPedia

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Hmm, what do you think?

Hmm, what do you think?

The chart below is an attempt to create a comparison matrix that can deal with 4 dimensions. Two dimensions get consolidated into another one, which are put on another matrix. The results is mathematically correct, but does it work as a slide? Maybe it is pushing things too far.

You can download the four dimensional comparison matrix by clicking the image, subscribers can do so free of charge.

Cover image by Amy Reed on Unsplash

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Creating an infinity symbol in PowerPoint

Creating an infinity symbol in PowerPoint

It is tricky to create an infinity symbol (or lemniscate) in PowerPoint, it is a shape that needs to overlap with itself and requires Escher-style (impossible) layering of shapes. The only way to do it is cheat, and construct the final shape of many individual shapes that are grouped together cleverly.

I managed to get it done, and you can see the final result here (hmm, those arrows point the wrong way around though):

 An infinity symbol in PowerPoint

An infinity symbol in PowerPoint

I don't have the exact workflow anymore that I used (I made some destructive edits), but below is a screenshot of the PowerPoint file in slide sorter mode that I used to create the shape, starting with 2 circles and a square.

 How to create an infinity shape in PowerPoint

How to create an infinity shape in PowerPoint

This shape is useful to show concepts that keep on going, or loops that you can't get out of. You can download the infinity symbol here, or find other slides with loops. There are Apple Keynote versions available as well.

Cover image by Mark Asthoff on Unsplash

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PowerPoint vs Keynote in 2018

PowerPoint vs Keynote in 2018

Over the past few days I converted all the slides in the SlideMagic store from PowerPoint 4:3 into PowerPoint 16:9, Keynote 4:3, and Keynote 16:9. That was quite a bit of conversion and uploading work... As a result I got an even better understanding of the differences between PowerPoint and Keynote. Here is the 2018 version of the comparison.

Overall both programs are excellent, as you would expect from software that has been around this long. Bugs have been ironed out, and both programs have "learned" from each other to get to a good workflow. So the differences are not that major.

Where PowerPoint is stronger

  • Workflow for advanced users. I can customise the top tool bar with the functions I use most (aligning, distributing, moving things to the back, etc. see my full list of toolbar short cuts here). Also in Keynote it can get confusing at high speed to change colours of text and shape fills, too many clicks, and too many opportunities to get it wrong. The interface looks elegant, but it slows you down.
  • Data chart editing is better in PowerPoint with the full power of Excel behind it
  • Stretching of (groups of) shapes is predictable in PowerPoint: you can distort aspect ratios. Keynote is more restricting and protects the novice designer with stretching images. But, it does the same for large groupings of objects, as soon as you have a few connectors inside, it is no longer possible to stretch complex diagrams across the page, without also increasing its height. This cost me a lot of time to clean up my flow chart template for example. I could not understand when Keynote decides it is OK to stretch, and when not.
  • Complex connector diagrams run more smoothly in PowerPoint. Keynote is "smarter" and helps you pick/decide/suggest possible connector lines between shapes, but because of that, it is harder to convince it to something you want against its own suggestion. In more complex diagrams this becomes a problem.

Where Keynote is stronger

  • Cropping of images is more intuitive in Keynote
  • For the first time I really worked with the file manager (duplicating instead of "save as") and went into the version history of Keynote, no need to worry about saving, which was actually really convenient.

There are some charts which PowerPoint can make and Keynote not, I found out the hard way with my conversion effort:

  1. Slides that use 3D positioning of objects and text distortion
  2. Slides that use bevels and 3D lighting/shading. I am sure it is possible by carefully selecting the gradients, but there is no 1-click solution

Both of these are not crucial to presentation design. In fact, too much 3D fire power in the hand of the layman designer might not beneficial to the quality of the slides. Below are examples of charts from my template store which are not available in Keynote because I simply could not covert them. (Click the images to be taken to the template store).

 Balls bouncing on a big wave

Balls bouncing on a big wave

 Domino pieces in PowerPoint

Domino pieces in PowerPoint

 Proliferation of options

Proliferation of options

 The start line: comparing two optionis

The start line: comparing two optionis

 Black hole

Black hole

 Squeezed

Squeezed


Cover image by Chris Sabor on Unsplash

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Puzzle pieces in PowerPoint

Puzzle pieces in PowerPoint

Although you could consider them a presentation cliché, puzzles can work really well in a presentation:

  • Show how things fit beautifully
  • Show how your are missing (hopefully just one) critical piece
  • Show that you finally managed to plug that last gap

Puzzle shapes can also work great when you use them in combination with images. You can go back to this blog post about making Photoshop-like image cut outs in PowerPoint.

Stock image sites are flooded with millions of puzzle piece designs, but they are not very practical for the average PowerPoint designer (especially late at night working for tomorrow's deadline). Almost all these puzzles pieces are vector objects or images that are impossible to edit in PowerPoint. Moreover, all these puzzle pieces have wildly irregular shapes that make them hard to fit in your slide composition that requires exactly nine of them.

This PowerPoint puzzle slide solves the problem for you. The pieces inside are fully editable PowerPoint shapes, you can change their colour, you can put text in them, you can reconfigure and piece them together as you see fit. Yo'u can download the finished slide by clicking the image (An Apple Keynote version is available as well).

You can try to create the pieces yourself if you want, I used simple square shapes and circles, either joining or subtracting the shapes. Circles and squares might not be the most realistic shapes, but they are very practical when have to piece things together. There is a little bit of math homework to do to determine which type of puzzle shapes you actually need, and which ones you can create by rotating existing pieces.

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Concentric circles in PowerPoint

Concentric circles in PowerPoint

You can create very beautiful compositions by just using basic shapes and a few colours. Below is a presentation slide with concentric circles, and an image that shows how it is constructed. Feel free to borrow the design approach, or you can download the finished slide here.

This technique was often used by the Swiss graphics designers in the 1960s. You can use the slide concept below in a number of ways: show some sort of layering, show multiple layers of security or protection, show a whirl or rolling dynamic. You can take the labels of and just use the circles.

 Concentric circles in PowerPoint

Concentric circles in PowerPoint

 How to make concentric circles in PowerPoint

How to make concentric circles in PowerPoint

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Blue ocean strategy in a presentation

Blue ocean strategy in a presentation

Most investor or sales presentation have some sort of slide about the competitive environment. (Here are earlier blog posts about how to present the competition). Usually, people use tables, or 2x2 / 3x3 matrices to show how they are different.

The chart below might a completely different take on the subject. The Blue Ocean strategy concept developed by INSEAD argues that is often better to define an entirely new market rather than battling with all the existing companies that go after well-established market segments. You can download the slide here.

 Visualise the competition using "Blue Ocean Strategy" in a presentation

Visualise the competition using "Blue Ocean Strategy" in a presentation


Cover image by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash

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Presentation layout for when you are stuck...

Presentation layout for when you are stuck...

Sometimes the simplest slides can be the most effective ones. This slide layout shows a big arrow crashing into a wall to visualise your obstacle or roadblock. The wall image is framed, while the arrow is bleeding of the page, adding an extra movement effect.Edit to text in the arrow and/or on the wall to show your audience what it stuck. The text in the arrow will automatically tilt in the right 3D angle, and both the wall and arrow will colour in your primary accent colour. Please copy this slide into a presentation that uses your own corporate presentation colour theme.

I am gaining a lot of experience now in translating PowerPoint designs into Keynote. This chart is only available in PowerPoint and not in Keynote, because the latter cannot tilt objects in a 3D space. The same problem arises with charts that rely heavily on bevels or other 3D lighting effects, which is not obvious to do in Keynote.

Here you can find this wall layout in the SlideMagic store. Cover image by Chris Benson on Unsplash

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Bubble charts in PowerPoint and Keynote

Bubble charts in PowerPoint and Keynote

Bubble charts are useful to present and analyse very large datasets. The standard template in PowerPoint and Keynote still needs some adjustment to make the chart useful. In this bubble chart on the SlideMagic template store, I have tried to do the hard work for you.

This a reformatted version of the standard bubble chart that you will find in PowerPoint and Keynote, on top it has the layout of a 2x2 matrix. The bubble chart is useful when you want to compare a data series with 3 elements, across a large number of data points. Examples are countries, business units, regions, products, etc.

The first two elements will be plotted on a regular XY chart, the 3rd element is the size of the bubble. PowerPoint or Keynote do not support labelling of the bubble very well, which are put in manually.

A 2x2 matrix structure is put on top of the regular bubble chart, giving you 4 distinct quadrants to segment your bubbles in. In the current example, the quadrants have the same size, by putting the 2 axes right in the middle. To do so, you need to manage the ranges of the axes carefully. If this is not important to you, you can put the X and Y axes where they are relevant without worrying about this. Quadrants of unequal size will still look good.

I am working hard to make the store more useable. This layout is an example. There are 4 variants of the chart: PowerPoint, Keynote, both in 4:3 or 16:9. I tried to add all the right instructions about how to use the layout, and show many links to other relevant slides in the store. While working on your presentation, you can go back and forth between designs and get ideas on how to visualise the key messages of your presentation. Some layout suggestions, you might be able to create yourself, others you might already have bought and can re-use, or you can download a layout right away to add it to your library. SlideMagic will be a place that saves you time making your business presentations.

Cover image by Alejandro Alvarez on Unsplash

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Most templates now available for Apple Keynote

Most templates now available for Apple Keynote

The template store now supports Apple Keynote, a drop down menu let's you make a selection between your preferred presentation software. Not all templates could be converted, Keynote is missing the 3D shape rotation feature of PowerPoint that I used in some of the slides.

 The store now gives you the option to download templates either as a PowerPoint or Keynote file

The store now gives you the option to download templates either as a PowerPoint or Keynote file

 Slides in Keynote look the same except for the font

Slides in Keynote look the same except for the font

The only adjustment I made was the font: switching it from PowerPoint's default Calibri to Helvetica Neue for  Keynote. I am keen to keep the look and feel of the charts as "standard" as possible to make it easy to integrate the design in the corporate presentation templates that people are using.

 Under pressure!

Under pressure!

The slide above is a layering of 2 images that visualizes a big dam that is under pressure from something. You can use it either to show that something is about to burst, or the opposite, that defenses are strong and holding out well. I love the massive architectural scale of these hydro power installations, especially when you can highlight it with this tiny car driving across it. You can download this dam template here.

Looking for other visual concepts that are similar? You can try and search the store for "forces", "down", or this search "downward" and see what slides come up. That is my longer-term vision: no more boring bullet point charts, and no more searching for "where is that slide that I made 2 years ago", but rather have all the relevant designs ready at your finger tips. The search engine with design ideas is almost as important as the actual design itself.

 Searching for "downward" in the template store

Searching for "downward" in the template store

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Layering PowerPoint shapes

Layering PowerPoint shapes

Here are some examples of PowerPoint slides that cleverly use layering to create a "woven fabric" effect. Why clever? Take the circle for example with the arrow flying through. Part of the circle needs to below the arrow, part on top. The solution? Cut the circle in half... The interwoven arrows have small square blocks in the right colours pasted in the relevant junctions, and the spiral was a bit tricky, placing small black cut outs on the junction with the blue arrow.

Click the image if you want to download the relevant slide. Alternatively, search the template store for keywords like "arrow", "downward", "circle", "process" etc. to get to charts like these.

 A regular process, with a circular process around it

A regular process, with a circular process around it

 "The making of"

"The making of"

 Layered PowerPoint arrows give a fabric or knot type slide layout

Layered PowerPoint arrows give a fabric or knot type slide layout

 A downward spiral in PowerPoint

A downward spiral in PowerPoint

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Native waterfall charts in PowerPoint for Mac

Native waterfall charts in PowerPoint for Mac

Waterfall charts have emerged in PowerPoint for Mac after a recent software update. This would be a major addition, since these types of charts are highly useful to summarise changes in data. I have shown in previous blog posts how it is possible to construct a waterfall chart starting from a regular stacked column chart, but it involves manual calculations and PowerPoint fiddling.

The new waterfall templates for PowerPoint for Mac are a step in the right direction, but things are not perfect (yet) though. For some reason, you cannot edit the data of the waterfall that gets inserted in PowerPoint, nor can you change the design of the chart. I figured out a work around:

 1. Data in the standard PowerPoint for Mac waterfall chart cannot be edited ("edit data in Excel" is grey out)

1. Data in the standard PowerPoint for Mac waterfall chart cannot be edited ("edit data in Excel" is grey out)

 2. The only adjustment you can make is selecting a cell, and then designating it to be a total column (or not)

2. The only adjustment you can make is selecting a cell, and then designating it to be a total column (or not)

 3. Work around: add a regular column chart

3. Work around: add a regular column chart

 4. Make it a stacked column

4. Make it a stacked column

 5. Delete data all but one data series

5. Delete data all but one data series

 6. Add the data you need

6. Add the data you need

 7. Convert the stacked bar to a waterfall

7. Convert the stacked bar to a waterfall

 8. Designate the totals to be "totals"

8. Designate the totals to be "totals"

 9. The final result

9. The final result

The problem is that you cannot format these chart more to make it fit in your overall design. And to change a data value, you have to convert back the chart to a stacked column chart, after which you have to re-re-convert to a waterfall and set the totals again from scratch.

I assume these are all early bugs that will eventually be ironed out. Do people have the same issue on PowerPoint for Windows? 

Here is the link to my manual waterfall chart in the template store. It requires some calculations, but once set up,  you can make it fit to your own look & feel, and changing data values should be relatively easy. As soon as Microsoft has ironed the above bugs, I will update this chart to work with the native chart engine.

 The "manual" waterfall chart in PowerPoint that can be downloaded from the template store

The "manual" waterfall chart in PowerPoint that can be downloaded from the template store

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The iceberg in PowerPoint, presentation cliches

The iceberg in PowerPoint, presentation cliches

I think people are spending way too much time on creating corporate presentation documents for internal company  meetings where the objective is to get your colleagues to agree on something that needs to happen next. Not every meeting is your all company annual sales kick off.

Presentation cliches can be effective visual shortcuts to get your point across. People have seen them before, instantly connect to the concept, and you can move on. The challenge is to make your slide look decent, maybe even referring to the cliche in a tongue-in-cheek way.

Below is what I tried to do to the infamous tip of the iceberg slide.

 The tip of the iceberg presentation "classic" (or cliche?)

The tip of the iceberg presentation "classic" (or cliche?)

  • Don't try to make it look too photo realistic, but rather use an abstract simple geometrical shape, and use the presentation accent color (instead of white against a dark background)
  • Keep the slide very simple, but the depth effect is actually created with clever layering of (partly semitransparent) shapes and image crops, it took me some head scratching to figure out
  • Shift the whole composition to the side to leave some more space for text, if you need it.

All in all, this chart looks better than a boring list of bullet points that describe some looming threat you want to warn your colleagues about. Just resist the temptation to fill that empty piece of arctic ocean on the right or the crisp polar sky with text.

If you want, you can download the tip of the iceberg slide here.

Photo by paul morris on Unsplash

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Quarterly performance summary: lots of different KPIs on a page

Quarterly performance summary: lots of different KPIs on a page

I often use the slide below in quarterly investor presentations for large corporates. How to give a quick overview of the key financials in one chart?

 A chart with an overview of the main financial indicators of the last quarter

A chart with an overview of the main financial indicators of the last quarter

This chart is an example of why often a "manual" chart is much more powerful than a simple copy and paste from Excel:

  • The chart contains values that can differ vastly in range: sales can be 100s of billions of dollars, EPS can be less than a dollar. Margins are percentages, not dollars.
  • Despite this, I forced the Q1 column of each of these values to be the same. In the underlying spreadsheet, they will all say "100". The other values are calculated as a relative value compared to this 100. To accentuate this in the chart, I connected the left columns with a dotted line.
  • As a result, all labels in the chart need to be filled out by hand, the same for the growth bubbles which I placed over the columns (again a bit unusual)

You can download this KPI chart from the template store.

Photo by Sabri Tuzcu on Unsplash

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How to make organization charts in PowerPoint

How to make organization charts in PowerPoint

I added the first organization chart to the template store. It is hard to design a generic template for organizations, there are so many different permutations possible. This is the reason they are still hard to create in my presentation design app, and this is probably also the reason that it is tricky to create beautiful organization diagrams from simply copying pasting a pre-fab template. Let's give it a try.

Here is the process I usually go through when designing an org chart:

  1. Make a sketch on paper, and reshuffle, re-juggle existing PowerPoint organigrams. These are made by HR people, not by designers. Often you can rearrange objects in such a way that you get a much nicer composition without changing hierarchies and relationships between people and departments
  2. Find out the horizontal layer that has most boxes in it, this will determine the size of the horizontal grid. Find the person with the longest name / role title, which will give you a clue about the maximum font size you can use.
  3. Put this layer in, and add all organization elements relevant to this layer.
  4. Make sure every object is perfectly aligned, and start putting in the PowerPoint connectors. (You will immediately see when you made a small alignment glitch, the connectors will not fit nicely)
  5. Now that the whole structure is in in place it is time to put in names and roles, and if required the FTE count of the various units (the small black bubbles in my example). 
  6. Take a step back and look at the whole structure to see whether there are opportunities to use color to make things clearer.
  7. You got your reference slide was all the info about all the people in the right places, the final step is to think what your specific slide actually really needs to say: our organization is big, or organization is flat, our organization mirrors our customer segmentation, everyone in the organization is over-stretched, our organization is basically 3 silos. Start deleting, adding, coloring things just to make that point.

Related to point 7, remember that some of the points you want to make in an organization do not always require an organization diagram. I nice photo of the lunch room can show that you have a big group of people working here for example. And, the names, lines, dotted lines, titles, are incredibly important for the people who work in the organization, for some people that title might be the reason they show up in the morning. For many outsiders however, these details are far less important. In startup organizations, the org chart changes every week, the structure is not that relevant, what is important though (for potential investors) is the caliber and experience of the people you managed to get on board. I simple team overview slide can do the trick here. You can search the template store for "team" and see whether a suitable design comes up.

Let me know if this template (you can download it here) works, or whether I should add more permutations.

 A PowerPoint presentation design template for an organization chart

A PowerPoint presentation design template for an organization chart

Photo by Vincent Botta on Unsplash

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System dynamics in PowerPoint

System dynamics in PowerPoint

Loops are a powerful way to visualise reinforcing trends. Electrical engineers use them and refer to them as "system dynamics". McKinsey consultants use them and call them "business dynamics".

You can use them in a presentation to support your point, but make sure you don't overcomplicate things like in the infamous US Army Spaghetti chart. Alternatively, you can use them as an analytical tool and add as much complexity as you want.

I often use some sort of loop diagram to scribble the basic story line of a presentation to make sure that I understand things myself.

When using a loop diagram in a presentation, go through different version on paper until you arrive at the most pleasing design, with the minimal amount of overlapping arrows in your spaghetti.

I have added a basic loop diagram to the template store. They are a bit tricky to make in PowerPoint, if you want all the circles and arrows to line up properly.

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How to create Harvey Balls in PowerPoint

How to create Harvey Balls in PowerPoint

Harvey Balls are a repeating pattern of simple pie diagrams to score options among different access. Strategy consultants love them because it allows you to make qualitative assessments quickly. They work great on group discussion whiteboards as well: draw the empty circles and have the meeting participants colour them in.

Apparently they were invented at Booz Allen in the 1970s, which is probably why we at McKinsey referred to them as "moons".

In PowerPoint they are a bit tricky to make, in the template below I tried to make an effort. To change the values, you need to open each pie diagram and change its value, make sure that you are not moving or re-scaling any of the pie diagrams in the process.

At McKinsey, I remember always keeping a "moon" diagram somewhere in my hard drive, so I could easily re-use the various shapes (these were not Excel pie diagrams, but graphic icons that came in the four stages).

Visually, I think they are not perfect. Maybe in the early 1990s, with primitive computer graphics, Harvey balls served a purpose, but now the same effect can equally be achieved by applying different colour shadings in the background colour of the cells in your table.

As always, feel free to copy the design, or download the ready-made slide from the template store.

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