Making data-driven explanatory videos

A data-driven explanatory video like this one can help you share the key points of an analysis in a way that your audience will find easy to understand and easy to share via social media.

There are lots of ways to make such videos. One of the easiest and cheapest approaches involves using Excel, PowerPoint, and just a touch of video editing. Basically, you:

  • Make your graphs in Excel
  • Copy and paste the graphs into PowerPoint, taking care to leave them linked to the Excel file
  • Use PowerPoint to animate each graph and organize all of the graphs into a presentation with explanatory text
  • Save the PowerPoint presentation as a video
  • Use video editing software (like the “Movie Maker” app built into Windows) to add some background music. If you want, you can add voice narration, too. Personally, I prefer a video that is equally informative with or without the sound turned up. Accordingly, I usually forego voice narration.
  • Upload the finished video to YouTube or some other online video sharing platform.

This tutorial assumes you already know enough about PowerPoint to choose a theme and, if you want, customize the theme’s colors and fonts. The video above used a customized version of the “Frames” theme available in PowerPoint 2016. Here’s a .zip file containing the PowerPoint file as well as the Excel file that provided the graphics:

The process for making any one animated slide is about the same as the process for making any other animated slide, so the video below explains how to make Slide 5 of the show that produced the example video, use it as a template to make Slide 6, produce the video, then add background music using a video editor like the Movie Maker app built into Windows 10.

You may use these links to jump to specific parts of the video: