How to Present Data Effectively
Business presentations or presenting your empirical findings requires a unique type of presentation style. While many big companies also spend megabucks, time, and effort into the research and development, extremely crucial presentation is often left in dire need of more focus and attention.
When you think about this logically, the businesses should want to spend the extra time and effort to make effective presentations when this is the single action responsible for provoking the change you wish to see. While you definitely want to have ‘show off’ worthy data to present to your audience the effectiveness of your data lies heavily on your presentation.
Whether you wind up throwing up data and statistics all over presentation slides; or effectively presenting your data and solutions in a manner that influences action based on your data insights you have control over how your audience interprets your figures.
If you’re lazy and go with the former, you risk your credibility, getting lost in the massive amounts of data, and missing your point completely. When you don’t present your data effectively your audience can’t take you seriously. Moreover, ineffective practices are very much more prevalent than well done and thought out presentations.
Hence, if you give an outstanding and organized presentation that clearly makes sense of all of your complex graphs charts and tables you can noticeably stand out in the crowd. Finally, when presented effectively your data speaks for itself keeping the entire presentation clear cut and to the point. Allowing the data to speak for itself makes more room for you to discuss what the insights of the data really mean for you in the presentation.
The goal is to spend the least amount of time possible talking about the raw data, and get into the meat of the discussion, how you can effectively take action upon this data. In this article I’m going to share with you the main mistakes that are being made today in data presentation, and how you can learn from these mistakes and fix them to present data effectively and thus achieving your presentation goals.
Reflect your brand’s values through your data presentation
Think about what values your company has and which of these you hope to exude to your audience. I know I like to represent my own brand as being confident, organized, efficient, and transparent. Each brand has different values in which they want to show off to their audience.
One thing no company wants to come off as however, is lazy or sloppy. While many presenters may think no one is paying attention to their graph or data it’s just there to support your point, errrrrr, you’re wrong. Your data and how it’s presented is an extremely valuable part of your presentation. A sloppy chart or line graph can come off as amateur and give your brand a less worthy reflection upon your reputation.
If you want to make your craftsmanship less sloppy be it your chart, table, or graph, look online for well done prototypes of the type of data or information you’re trying to display. People have a natural tendency, what psychologists refer to as cognitive fluency, to prefer presentation of data in a format that’s familiar to them. For example, people are accustomed to reviewing graphical data with the independent variable on the x-axis and the dependent variable on the y-axis. Changing these subtle details around in your slides can make the appearance less sloppy to your viewers.
Focus on what really matters, and cut the clutter
It’s very easy to get caught up in all of the data and numbers and get carried away decking out your presentation slides with massive amounts of clutter. To you, the presenter it’s very easy to say, “yeah this makes sense.” or “yeah, all of this is 100% necessary.” However, ask yourself, are you really the most objective person to be making this decision? Most likely not, ask a more objective person like a friend that’s never been exposed to your data before to go over the presentation with you beforehand.
This person can accurately tell you if they’re not understanding certain pieces, or what data is absolutely not essential to driving your main point. As a brand executive, of course you think everything’s mega important and makes perfect sense, the real test is someone who knows absolutely nothing about the matter, can they make sense of your data?
Help yourself and your audience by selecting one primary aspect to focus on. Yes, we understand that you’ve done your research and you can show us a variety of metrics from different market segments, but please only show us what’s critical and pertains directly to us. As a good rule of thumb stick to one metric, or aspect (whatever you’re focusing on) per slide.
How to choose the best fit for your data
You have so many options to clearly relay your data to your audience. What will you choose the effervescent pie chart? What about the tall and might bar graph? Are you more of a line type of guy? With so many options it can be increasingly difficult to decide which brings the most focus to your data and effectively proves your points.
The goal here is to minimize the time people take to understand your graph, and use the format that makes your variables the most robust and communicates the meaning best to your audience. Certain charts and tables are better suited for different types of data to be presented. For example, scatter plots are best used when showing distributions while line charts are a better fit for communicating a relationship. Pie charts are great for when you’re executing a composition, yet don’t work well for comparisons or distributions.
There’s two important factors you have to focus on here, the data itself and understanding what type of message you’re trying to reveal in the presentation i.e. relationship, distribution, comparison, or composition. Secondly, you must take into consideration your audience and what graph or table is going to click the most obviously in their head. If you’re still struggling with what graph, table, chart, or line to use to swiftly get across your points check out Juice Analytics Chart Chooser tool which does the work for you.
Making an effective presentation to communicate your data doesn’t have to be a jaunting task. In fact, it can be as simple as taking your existing presentations and changing some axes on pre-existing graphs, or getting rid of some distracting clutter to make your focus point clearer and you will be able to present data more effectively.
In the future when you think about creating more presentations to present your data, really try and focus on what you are trying to say and identify clear points, the fewer the better. Once you’ve consolidated down to a simple idea you’re trying to portray and delivery to your audience, it’s a lot easier to create visuals with this singular idea in mind.
You’ve worked really hard to collect and analyze all of this data, go the extra nine yards now to make sure all of that time and energy invested didn’t go to waste. It’s very easy to throw together a mediocre scatter chart or line graph and stick it on the presentation slide behind you while you’re presenting. Many presenters have the mentality that it doesn’t matter how the data looks because they’ll be able to describe it better throughout the presentation. But, what happens once you leave, your audience is left with nothing but this mediocre graph to help explain your points you made in the presentation.
Here’s one solution, it’s emaze
By using innovative presentation design tools like emaze to present your data effectively you can wow your audience with neat effects, sleek design, and all of the accessibility to easily make charts, tables, lines, and graphs. emaze gives you the ability to upload your data straight from excel into the system to make the beautifully designed charts for you, or you have the option to customize them for yourself.
Click on above image to sign up and view the complete template.