When it comes to making presentations for important work meetings, there are plenty of ways to go about it. A good old and simple slide show is fine. But that only forms the base of your presentation. You see, every slide in a slide show carries a specific aspect of your presentation. This means a slide could express data, ideas, statistics, concepts, experience or skills.

You might think, just mentioning the above information in your slide show would be enough. But that is hardly the case. The most important aspect of a presentation is not only the data being shared but also the way in which it is shared. And there are many ways in which you can structure your data and information for maximum impact.

There are many popular formats to choose from when it comes to sharing your data and knowledge. Some of them are as follows –

  • Bar Chart – Uses big bars to represent data. The length of a bar is proportional to the value that it represents.
  • Flow Chart – Shows the steps involved in a process from start to finish. Uses boxes to encapsulate the steps and arrow signs to indicate the direction of the flow.
  • Storyboard – As the name suggests, this presentation uses images or pictures to narrate a story in order. Used heavily for audio-visual content like advertisements.
  • Stacked Bar – Bars are stacked over each other. Used to compare the parts of a component or element to the whole thing.
  • Pie Chart – Just like a pie, this presentation divides a circle (a pie) into various slices. The various slices combine to form the whole pie. Used to breakdown the various components of a singular concept / idea /data.
  • Venn Diagram – Divides different objects into various categories and tries to find logical relations between them with the use of overlapping circles.
  • Pyramid Chart – Used to illustrate hierarchy or an arrangement of elements in order of importance or priority. Resembles a pyramid. Usually the bottom portion forms the base of the entire structure (and the data that the structure represents). Without the base the upper portions will cease to exist.
  • There are many more such formats for presentation. The choice of a format or structure depends on your requirement, which is, the type of data you are trying to illustrate or represent.
  • Another type of presentation structure, which is also handy when needed, is the meatball or matrix chart. To understand it better, here are some examples of a meatball chart template –

Example Template #1

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Example Template #2

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Example Template #3

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This article will provide you with all the information required on meatball charts. For starters, you should know the meaning and uses of a meatball chart.

Why Choose a Meatball Chart Template

If you are a working professional there must be many responsibilities on your shoulders. It is not only a matter of executing your own tasks but also working closely with a group to achieve targets. As if hitting multiple goals was not enough, you must also prepare for various meetings throughout the month. That is not it. You also have a personal life outside the office cubicle which comes with its own sets of responsibilities and chores.

Given all of the above factors and limitations, any form of free time would be a blessing for you. And you would rather spend that time doing something productive, something that will take your career forward. If that is your plan of action then do not waste your time and effort on work which can be delegated to someone else. Take presentations for example. Instead of creating your own meatball chart from scratch, you can easily find templates online to download. This article alone will provide you with some great options.

As a professional you would understand the value of time. Save it and invest in yourself. Leave the mechanical labor to online sources and help. Here are some examples –

Example Template #4

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Example Template #5

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Example Template #6

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Example Template #7

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What is a Meatball Chart Template

A meatball chart or matrix chart helps in comparing elements of different groups, or the elements within the same group. This comparison is very important for project managers to analyse and determine the correct course of action. Meatball chart also assists in understanding the relationship between different data and information.

Under the corporate umbrella there are many processes functioning simultaneously. There are various employees with different skillsets and roles, different departments and various projects. All these elements are constantly interacting with one another, leading to a complex web of activity. In such scenarios it is difficult to understand the relationship between different elements. A meatball chart helps supervisors and managers in clearing this doubt.

Using a meatball chart you can analyze various types of data. This includes – Functions, people, concepts, actions, equipment and materials. To represent the relationship between different data you use a symbol or a number wherever these data intersect on the meatball chart. Depending on the total number of data elements you wish to compare, different meatball chart shapes can be used. These shapes are – Y Shape, L Shape, T Shape, C Shape and X Shape.

What are the uses of a Meatball Chart Template

If you wish to visualize and understand complex relationships between different elements, meatball charts are the way to go. “Complex relationships” occur when there are multiple interactions between multiple data elements. It is not as simple as “A to B”, but more intricate like “A to B to C to F to G, back to A and B”. Multiple elements could share the same interaction with a single element in a complex relationship.

Only by understanding these complex relationships can a manager or supervisor take calculated and informed decisions. Meatball charts are very useful in many scenarios. Some of these scenarios are listed below –

  • Tallying and matching a specific requirement with the right specifications
  • Finding and identifying the root cause or causes of a problem
  • Allocation and distribution of valuable resources according to ability, competency or requirement
  • Comparison of potential solutions to choose the best
  • Identifying and detecting the right opportunities to enable growth and development
  • Reviewing and assessing the efficacy in meeting various needs and requirements

Whenever your team needs to undergo a QFD (Quality Function Deployment) analysis, meatball charts should be used. These charts also help you understand causal relationships between various elements.

To understand this concept better, take a look at the templates below –

Example Template #8

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Example Template #9

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Example Template #10

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Characteristics of a Great Meatball Chart Template

In order to create or find the right meatball chart template for you, there are some specifications that must be met. The data you put into it will vary as per your organization, department or project. But certain basics will remain the same regardless of what elements you are comparing. These basics are –

  • A clearly defined purpose – Without clearly defining the purpose behind your meatball chart exercise, you would be aiming in the dark. When you clearly know what you are looking for you can easily list out the elements or data you want to study and compare. Otherwise you would not know when to stop.
  • Build the right team – Depending on the objective of your meatball chart, find teammates who are fit for the job. They should be able to assimilate and analyze the type of information you seek to compare. Please inform your teammates in advance about how time consuming the process can be. This way only those committed to the cause will step forward.
  • Begin the data collecting process – After an in-depth discussion with your teammates, begin identifying and collecting the data for your meatball chart. It is important to steer clear from any type of bias as this can spoil your research and lead to inaccurate results.
  • Choose the type of matrix – You have over 5 different matrix types to choose from to compare your data. You choice of matrix will depend greatly on the objective of your exercise and the kind of data you have assimilated.
  • Select the data analysis method – This is the part where you decide which symbol or number would represent which relationship or interaction. Also, you must decide what aspect you are trying to compare. For example, are you comparing similarities, strengths, cost to company or significance to company? These variables must be attributed.
  • Prepare the chart – This is where the real work begins. Put all your data on the matrix and start analyzing each and every relationship. Your teammates should be on it as well. This will take a lot of time. Also, remember to revise multiple times as human error is a real thing.
  • Draw conclusions and report findings – After you have thoroughly analyzed and revised your meatball chart, it is time to review it. Get together with your team and discuss all the conclusions you can draw from your efforts.

Meatball charts can take a lot of time. But they are important in understanding complex relationships. Here are some more template examples –

Example Template #11

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Example Template #12

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Example Template #13

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Example Template #14

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Example Template #15

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Conclusion: Dos and Don’ts

Meatball charts are very effective in establishing complex relationships. This is important to make well informed decisions which can impact the whole organization.