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9. Mapping Your Data
Mapping your data can radically improve your visualisations, helping your audience to quickly grasp geographic trends. The best way to do this is with interactive maps that can be purchased online.
Mapping your data
- Geographic data should be visualised on a map if at all possible
- Intuitively, we recognise trends and patterns better on maps
- Maps created as PowerPoint objects can be bought online at a reasonable price
- Colour-coded maps can take time to build but are almost always worth the effort
Some links to map providers
If you are displaying geographic data in your presentation, I would highly encourage you to consider using color coded maps to display your insights.
To the reader, maps are immediately familiar and can visualize geographic trends that a bar chart or line chart cannot.
Unbeknownst to many PowerPoint users, maps can be bought online from a variety of sources, some of which I will include in the show notes below this video.
These maps are easy to edit, as each country or state is an individual object.
For example, let’s say I want to highlight the top five states that contribute the most revenue to my company.
These states are California, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Florida.
To do this, I’ll select each state and color them a darker blue, and with the text box in a line, I’ll also include how much revenue each contributes, starting with California.
I’ll do the rest of these off camera, and I’ll also add in total revenue to my slide.
From the map, it’s easy to see that there’s a regional concentration of sales in the southwest.
But for some reason, Florida is a geographic outlier that contributes a lot of sales as well.
In a map, this is easy to grasp, but on an equivalent bar chart, the insight is not nearly as strong.
Unfortunately, these interactive maps do cost money.
But if you find yourself building these types of charts regularly, I would encourage you to purchase them.
Mapping data is particularly useful when you want to understand regional trends.
For example, the map shows the retail price of electricity by state in 2007.
By color coding each state and including the electricity price as the label, we can spot some obvious trends.
For example, electricity prices on the coasts are much higher than in the Midwest, and in particular, this line of states, including the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas have very low electricity prices.
The one drawback of mapping data is that charts can take some time to build.
Fitting in prices on 50 states or a set of 20 countries can get quite tiresome.
However, if it makes a difference between getting your point across effectively, it can be well-worth the effort.
Be sure to check out the links I have in the show notes to see what maps are available for regions relevant to your line of business.