Presenting Content from a Report or Other Document

Images adapted from AGSO 2000 'Natural hazards and the risks they pose to South-East Qld'.
At a recent conference, a presenter wanted to show the audience some important information from a recent report.  He had the report on the laptop attached to the projector.  He opened the report and located a graph.

It may have been a great graph, but as it had been prepared for publication in a paper-based A4 report, it did not scale to 'readable' when projected onto the screen.  Also, he had to 'flick' some pages to get to the graph - with blurring content projected onto the screen, and the top of his head prominently displayed to his audience for quite a while.

There is a right way to do this, and it takes some preparation time.  First, you need to get the graph out of the report.  If possible, go back to the source (often Excel), and manipulate the scales and labels to make them at least 18 point text.  If this is not possible, consider recreating the graph using your drawing skills in PowerPoint.  As a worst case, copy and paste directly between the report and PowerPoint.  You can overlay larger labels inside PowerPoint.

Consider remaking the graph as a 'build' - starting with the X and Y axes, then adding the bars or lines into the graph one at a time, so you can explain each element.  On a bar graph, you may put up a bunch of prior years' data in one go, and then add more recent years one at a time.  On a line graph, adding a line at a time allows your audience to absorb the content.

In PowerPoint, show the report cover (assuming the title is big and bold) on a slide, to set the context.  Then add slides with the elements of the modified graph - readable and able to be explained for the benefit of the audience.  You can add other content, such as key points or recommendations, but only if you summarise them to key words only.

In conclusion, even though you can open documents on the laptop, try to avoid it if at all possible.