Data storytelling using PowerPoint: An intensive four-week course

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A highly practical four-week masterclass in how to use PowerPoint as a tool for telling compelling stories with data.

About this event

Whether you’re looking to tell better data stories, or you want to improve the look and feel of your charts, PowerPoint is a powerful, and often misused tool. When you understand how to use the functions of PowerPoint, you can unlock its true potential as an instrument for information design.

Led by Adam Frost and Tobias Sturt from leading creative agency Add Two, this interactive course will cover every aspect of the presentation process, beginning with finding and structuring your story, and then looking at how to design your charts and maps, and finally exploring how data stories can be improved with iconography, illustration and photography.

Practical, hands-on exercises are a key part of this course. You will be encouraged to bring along your own data and presentations to work on, although sample material will also be provided. At the end of the course, you will have a finished, beautifully-designed deck of your own, plus a variety of editable templates that you can re-use for any future projects.

Course Content

  • An introduction to the principles of data visualisation
  • Using copy in PowerPoint
  • Structuring a story across a deck
  • PowerPoint as a design tool
  • An understanding of the PowerPoint charting library
  • Creating non-traditional charts in PowerPoint
  • How to use iconography, illustration and photography
  • Supporting tools and further reading

This course is for ...

  • Anyone who wants to learn how to use PowerPoint to tell clearer, more engaging data stories

Please be aware that although you do not need any specific technical expertise to participate in this course, your learning experience will be richer if you have a basic understanding of Excel and PowerPoint’s core functionality.

Week 1: The basics

  • PowerPoint as a storytelling tool - dividing your story between words, visuals and on-screen text
  • A tour of PowerPoint’s key design functionality: selecting, ordering, grouping, positioning.
  • A tour of PowerPoint’s charting functionality
  • Setting up PowerPoint templates and why they’re important. Establishing palettes, fonts, layout types.

Week 2: Storytelling essentials

  • Storytelling principes, cognitive load, and wireframing
  • Charting principles - matching story type to chart type
  • Creating standard charts in Powerpoint
  • Colour use in charting

Week 3: Advanced data storytelling

  • Copywriting and editing
  • Reframing and repurposing decks for different audiences and use cases
  • Creating non-standard charts in PowerPoint

Week 4: Visual enhancements

  • Working with SVGs and external tools
  • Maps in PowerPoint
  • Photography, iconography and illustration
  • Builds and animation
  • Tips for testing and rehearsal

Tutor profiles

Adam Frost was formerly head of data visualisation at the Guardian’s digital agency. He is now content director at Add Two, an agency specialising in data visualisation. His work has appeared in the Guardian, the New Statesman, Buzzfeed and elsewhere. Adam has also produced infographics and interactives for a range of public and private sector clients, including the Department for Education, Google and Unilever.

Tobias Sturt was head of creative at the Guardian’s digital agency, and is now creative director of Add Two. He has been working in digital storytelling for almost two decades using all kinds of media, from web to TV, and games and infographics.

Course Details

  • Date: Four consecutive Thursdays, from Thursday 24 February 2022 – Thursday 17 March 2022
  • Time: 2:00pm – 5:00pm (GMT)

2.00pm GMT | 3.00pm CET | 6.00am PST | 9.00am EST

This masterclass is available globally. If you are joining us from outside the United Kingdom, please use this time zone converter to check your local live streaming time.

You will be sent a link to the webinar two hrs before the start time. Please email masterclasses@theguardian.com if you have not received the access link within one hour of the scheduled start time.

All Guardian Masterclasses are fully accessible but please contact us at masterclasses@theguardian.com if you have any queries or concerns.

Full course and returns information on the Masterclasses website

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Welcome to Guardian Masterclasses – a unique programme of learning embedded within one of the world's most forward-thinking media organisations.

Masterclasses offer a broad range of short and long courses across a variety of disciplines from creative writing, journalism, photography and design, film and digital media, music and cultural appreciation.

Harnessing the expertise and specialisms within the organisation, our courses are led by first class and award winning guardian professionals whilst also drawing on the skills and expertise of other leading figures at the forefront of the creative and digital industries.

The programme is aimed at anyone interested in personal or professional development whether that be refining your skills, focusing your ambition or simply broadening your mind and gaining inspiration.

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