NERDBOT
The Nerd Side Of Life

10 Tips To Use Maps For An Effective Presentation

Maps are an effective way to display information. They can make complex data easier to understand, help your audience stay engaged in the presentation, and give you a competitive advantage. With ten tips on using maps for presentations, you’ll be able to create an engaging map-based slideshow in no time! 

1) Choose Your Data Wisely:

The most crucial step is choosing the correct data that will engage your audience without overwhelming them.

 2) Use Maps with Pop-ups: Maps with pop-ups allow viewers easy access to more detailed information when they want it – like when they’re ready for more depth or have questions about what’s being shown. 

3) Keep It Simple: Don’t overwhelm your viewers by throwing too many topics ​on the map. Remember that you want them to spend more time looking at your data, not figuring out what they’re supposed to be looking at. 

4) A Map is Not Always a Map

When you add map to your presentation, it doesn’t have to be geographically correct! If it makes sense, place your company’s logo in the center of the map on top of an image of its location on our planet. This will make it instantly relatable for your audience – even if they are thousands of miles away from your headquarters. 

5) Be Creative About Colors & Symbols:

 Make sure that colors and symbols match up with what you’re talking about. It’s okay if there’s some overlap between topics because this will keep viewers engaged while you talk through each point. 

6) Label Everything: Don’t leave anything blank. Even if you’re not going to use it in the presentation, add any text that will go with a symbol or color. This will help viewers decode your map better and faster while keeping everything organized. In the end, this will save you time from explaining every single thing.

7) Pay Attention to Spacing: Too much negative space is going to distract your audience from what’s happening in the center of the map. So instead, spend some extra time arranging symbols and colors to look good together, and nothing is out of place. And don’t neglect labeling!

8) Pick Images That Make Sense

Keep images related to what you’re talking about whenever possible. If possible, try to use images that represent statistics you’re trying to convey, such as rainfall (a cloud), unemployment rate (the number of jobless people), etc.

Keep Going!
1 of 26

9) Don’t Forget the Value: If you spent all this time making a beautiful map, don’t forget to add some added value on top! Use tools like DataWrapper or Google Fusion Tables if you want a way to write a story with your data and share it in a blog post.

10) Have Fun with It: Above all else, have fun! Remember that just because there is an element of science in visual mapping, it doesn’t have to be stuffy or boring. You can organize different types of information in different ways for different audiences. For example, pick one of your favorite hobbies, sports teams, or bands to use as the map theme. That way, you’re both having fun and sharing information with others.

Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke, founder and CEO of Maps Mania, offer more tips on how to engage your audience with interactive maps: 

• The tips regarding the design of good map visualizations are not new (see, for example, this article on Good Charts). However, I’d like to emphasize that a good map visualization should be: 

1. Informative – communicate facts, data, and information; 

2. Contextual – put the facts in context; 

3. Emotional – make people feel something about what they see. And as you can see from the above examples, there is so much potential in using interactive maps as a storytelling tool it’s just up to us to grab it!

• As to the choice of the mapping tool, I highly recommend Google My Maps. It’s not perfect, but it offers a free and efficient way for non-coders to create beautiful maps easily. For example, this map on Banking in Africa has been built using Google My Maps: 

Note that you can also choose to use other software, such as ArcGIS Online or QGIS Server, if you have coding skills. Also, note that experienced cartographers would surely disagree with my opinion that “Google My Maps is easy & convenient.” 🙂 

• In addition, don’t forget to take advantage of the incredible amount of data available online from open sources (see here). But remember, all these links are time-sensitive, so don’t wait too long before implementing your maps.

• While you can technically use any software that allows you to create a map, I would recommend using ArcGIS Pro in order to achieve the best results when designing your maps. Note that even if you use other tools (e.g., QGIS), there is no problem with it, as most programs allow exporting to an image or vector file format (PDF or SVG). However, keep in mind that you will need to explain where this data is from and how it was obtained during the presentation, which could be a bit awkward if you don’t actually know.

• These programs can typically export your map in different formats: PNG (recommended), JPG, PDF, and SVG. With most of these programs, you can also overlay several maps with different kinds of information on top of each other, including rivers, roads, political boundaries, and so on. This makes them very useful for more than just one purpose or audience type. For example, if you click here 

You can see a fantastic tutorial by Boundless about creating map books using Shapefiles in ArcGIS Pro. 

• These programs are very useful if you have a great deal of data to show on your map. For example, public health researchers could make an interactive choropleth visualization with the United States Census Bureau’s TIGER/Line files 

• Typically, these programs require coding like HTML or Python to work properly. However, some applications allow users without programming experience to create simple maps using drag and drop tools. Unfortunately, the more complicated the map becomes, the fewer options non-programmers will have in designing it. This can be mitigated by seeking online tutorials that may help expand one’s knowledge base for this specific program. Additionally, there is no shortage of free tutorials available on the internet.

• Once a user has a firm understanding of the map creation process, they need to decide whether or not they will want to use a pre-designed template or start from scratch. If one decides on an existing map design, one should know that some advanced features might be disabled for this option. In addition, it is common for pre-made maps to run into compatibility problems with other computer programs if the underlying data used in its creation was changed. Sometimes these issues can be fixed by resorting back to manual formatting, but more complicated issues may require access to a developer’s help desk. It is important for a user who opts for a pre-designed template to know going into their mapping project

Sign up to Receive the NERDBOT News!