Making pie charts in PowerPoint for sales presentations

The first article in this series described the four key principles for making high-impact charts for sales presentations. I used a sample bar chart to illustrate these four simple principles for optimizing a chart that is weak in terms of visual communication. In this article, we will look at the specifics of pie charts.

Pie chart in sales presentations

Bar chart or pie chart: The same 4 steps to optimizing your charts

The four principles described earlier also apply to pie charts, as you can see in the before-and-after example above: my goal is not to re-explain them here, just to list them for reference purposes (click here to see the preceding article for a more detailed explanation of the how and why):

  1. Opt for a chart over a tabl
  2. Remove the noise of Excel and PowerPo
  3. Clarify the key message in the title: the title contains the key messag
  4. Adjust the contrast
  • Background: dark background produces better results
  • Limit colors to the data you want to highlig
  • Adjust font size for contrast.

4 Steps to optimizing pie charts in Excel

Pie chart design follows the same logic as bar chart design. The only difference is that unlike the bars in bar charts, we never redraw the pie chart segments in PowerPoint, because they are more difficult if not impossible to reproduce. We therefore optimize them first in Excel, and then use them as pictures in PowerPoi

1. Choose a simple pie chart: Select ‘Insert’ (1) in the menu, then under ‘Charts’ (2) select ‘Pie’ (3) and choose one of the first two models (4).  Pie chart in sales presentation
2. You will get a standard Excel chart, from which you should delete the title and legend, as you will have more flexibility with PowerPoint in terms of font size contrast. Pie chart in sales presentations
3. Under ‘Design’ (1), choose a color model, preferably on a black background (2), but avoid the models with all the data in different colors. Manually adjust the color of the data you want to highlight, and offset it slightly (3). Pie chart in sales presentations
4. It is a good idea to enhance the chart using a 3D effect. To do this, right click on the chart. In the ‘Format Data Series’ menu, select the ‘3-D Format’ tab (1), then under ‘Bevel’ (2) select the first option and apply a width and height of around 10 pt. Pie chart in sales presentations


Insert the Excel chart as a picture in your PowerPoint presentation

1. Copy the chart you have created onto the clipboard (Ctrl-C). The trick is to then paste it into PowerPoint in .png format. To do this, go to the Home menu, select Paste / ‘Paste Special…’ / and then the ‘Picture (PNG)’ option. Pie-CHart in sales presentations
2.If needed, you can then delete the black background in PowerPoint:Select the chart in PowerPoint, then select ‘Color’ (1) in the Format menu, then ‘Set Transparent Color’. Your cursor will take the shape of a paintbrush; just click in the background to make it disappear. Pie-CHart in sales presentations
3.This is definitely useful if you have a background that isn’t black.Because the chart is an image, you can also apply reflection and transparency effects. Pie-CHart in sales presentations



Finalize the legends and title in your PowerPoint presentation

All you have left to do is finalize your chart in PowerPoint by adding labels, legends and titles, making sure to use the principles of text size and color contrasts.

Pie chart in sales presentations


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