Data is the foundation for reliability. Numbers don’t lie and in today’s age, data helps drive decision-making. Companies worldwide make use of data one way or another, from simple things like collecting client information to social media analytics. All that data is filled with potentially useful information depending on what you’re looking for. Extracting useful information from it can then help support better decision-making.
Data can also be used in storytelling, but what does it mean to tell a story with data? Imagine that you’re preparing a presentation on a topic that includes a lot of numbers and statistics. To the average person, showing pages of tables and dashboards can seem overwhelming. The numbers would mean nothing if there is no clear narrative. A good story needs to have a beginning, middle and end. Data is no different. Finding the right information and the right way to display it is like curating an art collection. With proper presentation, data can help backup a hypothesis, prove theories, and also help draw conclusions.
Having said all that, how can we present data effectively? Finding a way to balance information and also data visualisation can be simple if you follow these tips.
With a lot of numbers and stats to look at, you need to decide what is most important that you wish to highlight. Factor in your audience because knowing who you’re presenting the data to can also help you determine what’s needed. Ask yourself these questions: What issues are you looking to solve? Is there a question that needs to be answered? What stats are you looking to draw people’s attention to? Starting with the end goal in mind can make the process smoother.
Once you identify the exact purpose behind what you’re looking for, make it clear to your audience as well so they know what they should be looking out for when you present it.
Developing relevant context is also important when it comes to presenting data. Once you’ve narrowed down what to present, take a step back, and consider what background information is needed to fully understand the topic you’re presenting about. Should the audience know the current market landscape? What about the details and definitions of terms?
Try to create a setting where someone with absolutely no knowledge of the topic is able to grasp the gist of your data findings. Doing so can help make it easier to understand and also maximises your data’s impact. A good setting goes a long way.
With every data presentation and analysis, you will likely have a call to action. It’s the reason why the data was collected and analysed in the first place. Our first point called you to ask if there is a question that needed to be answered. To close the loop, it is equally important to determine if there is a specific action you would like your viewer or reader to take.
Like we mentioned earlier, data can help drive decision making. It can also provide the next steps a company or brand should take. Once you’ve presented it, consider your rank and role within the organization. It can help you determine whether the action is an order, a recommendation, or a suggestion. While data helps in decision making, it provides insight first on the matter at hand and drawing that distinction is also important. What should the audience walk away with at the end of it? How will this analysis affect the status quo? It’s important to also ask and answer these questions when presenting your findings.
Regardless of what you present, any story you push out must have a reason for being told. Whether its to inform, educate or start a discussion, telling a good story with your data can be easy if you follow the tips mentioned above. Creating a meaningful story is what separates a good presentation from the rest. We hope this helps you understand how to tell better stories with data!
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