Companies collect tons of data every single day and use it for decision making. They first must go through the process of collecting and mining the data. Then they need to present it to audiences in an easy-to-understand manner. The right data presentation allows you to break down complex data into digestible bits.
This article will look at eight ways to present data easier. It is important to engage with your audience so that they understand what you are trying to communicate.
1. Understand Your Audience
Before you start preparing your presentation, you must understand your audience because it will impact everything you do. You will want to adapt your mannerisms and communication style for your audience. The way you talk to top-level executives will be very different from how you communicate with entrepreneurs.
2. Ask Yourself ‘What’ and ‘Why’
What am I hoping to achieve and why is it important? Your answer to these two questions will guide your data presentation. A finance company presenting to entrepreneurs may want to show why they will be the best choice as a financial partner. This kind of presentation would benefit from case studies and testimonials. The use of images and videos of success stories would further add impact.
A business mentor presenting on overcoming challenges as a startup can use videos and testimonials. He can also use linear charts to show a successful progression story. Create interesting stories to show impact with the backing of relevant data.
3. Pick the Presentation Tools
Visual cues provide a fantastic way to present. It eliminates the need to use a lot of text, which could end up boring your audience. When there is too much text, people tend to focus more on reading rather than listening.
The right Infographics will capture interest. It also gives you more leeway to explain the point. You have many options, including graphs, pie charts, pyramid diagrams, and line charts.
But, you must know which method will have the most impact. It goes back to understanding your audience well.
Top-level executives may easily decipher linear graphs, dashboards, or tabular presentations. When preparing data for younger audiences, you need to be more visual. Using different pyramid templates, for example, will give you impactful, easy-to-understand infographics.
The same goes for entrepreneurs who would easily digest information on pyramid diagrams. The use of linear charts can show business projections over time. Comparison charts can break down qualitative and quantitative data making the information easy to consume.
4. Use Text
You cannot completely do away with text when using infographics. However, you have a certain limit that you should not exceed. You will be in the best place to determine how much to include. It helps to be strategic, so think about the following:
- Use words in moderation. You want people to listen and not focus on trying to make out the words in your slides.
- Get creative with titles or headings and avoid generic terms. The aim is to provoke, compel or persuade by having a bold statement.
- Choose the right font size. The font should be easy to read but not compete with the graphics.
- Be subtle about text placement. It should guide the eyes to the graphs and not the other way round.
5. Get Expert Help
Your strongest point may not necessarily lie in coming up with the actual presentation. If you do not get the infographics right, you may create confusion. Your layout may have elements that add no value. It can also be challenging to know what to include or exclude. Raw data has a lot of information that you might think is necessary for the presentation.
Imagine trying to understand the pie chart above. For more impact, consider asking for help if you have the resources. If not, take the time to learn how to do it well. There are tons of resources available online.
6. Pair Down
Have you ever had to sit through a presentation that seemed to go on forever? The number of slides was so numerous that your mind drifted away? If so, you would not want to subject your audience to the same. An average human has an attention span of 20 minutes.
Follow the 10/20/30 rule when preparing slides:
- 10 slides maximum
- 20 minutes for the presentation
- 30 for font size
The format should ideally be:
- The problem
- Your solution
- How to achieve success
Each slide should have one key point that you would want to be the main takeaway.
7. Include Subtle Guides
Subtle guides in the slides are important when you want the audience to focus on particular parts. Create callouts with the color, size, or shape. A red highlight on a part of the slide will draw people’s eyes there. Having a circle around a particular section will have the same effect. Bolding or highlighting a part on a tabular presentation works as well.
Make time to visit the room where you will be doing the presentation. Check the screen size and the seating to help you determine the elements your presentation needs. Put up the slides on the screen and take the farthest seat away from it. If you struggle to see the content, you will need to rework the slides for better clarity.
It also doesn’t hurt to rehearse the presentation beforehand. Get someone who can give you honest feedback.
Important to Note
- Put yourself in the shoes of the audience. Would you be willing to listen to the presentation? Does it answer pertinent questions and provide value?
- Unless you are talking to analysts, do away with too many numbers.
- Don’t go crazy on the use of color. Some people may be colorblind. The audience may also spend too much time trying to understand your color use.
- Be assertive and back it up with evidence. Example: Our company is the ideal financial partner for your startup. We have thousands of happy customers who can attest to this.
- Don’t get too fancy when presenting data. Before you use that 3D element, ask yourself if you would not be better off with a simple graph. Aim for maximum clarity with any visual elements you choose.
- Avoid clutter; you want clean, simple slides. It helps with focus, resulting in better concentration.
- Your labels should be accurate, informative, and concise.
Presenting data requires that you break down complex information into easy-to-digest bits. Start by understanding your audience well. Pick the right visualization tools that will create interest and engagement with the audiences.
Have clarity and avoid clutter so that whoever is listening does not have to struggle to understand. Remember, it is your job to explain the data while providing the relevant support. If your audience leaves with more questions than answers, you failed in communicating clearly. Use this article as a guide and a place to start.