How To Effectively Present Data

In most presentations, evidence-based facts and figures offer the best possible proof to support your message or claim.  So, if you’ve spent hours painstakingly collecting the data and analysing it, don’t let the information go to waste by presenting it in a way that is undigestible.

If you are one to believe that data doesn’t need proper representation, then it is time to change this mindset. When your audience can’t decipher your graphs and tables, your message is being diluted.

So, how should you showcase your data?  

  1. TELL A STORY

We’ve spoken at length on this blog about the powerfully storytelling can increase an audience’s ability to empathise with/recall/relate to/and ultimately accept (and action) a presenters message. So, it will come as no shock to any of you that a potent form of using statistics and data can be through this same method. So, how do you tell a story with data? You must understand which parts of your message lean toward this data, or conversely, isolate the essential part of the data that is amplified by visual presentation.

As an example, if you’re talking about efficacy of a new cancer drug, build a story around the numbers. For instance, you can tell a story regarding:

  • a specific patient affected by cancer-type it can treat,
  • Current or older methods that have seen less desirable outcomes
  • stories from studies that support claimed benefits
  1. KEEP YOUR DATA SIMPLE AND UNCLUTTERED

Are you of the belief that the more information you provide, the more your audience will engage with your message? If so, stop right now. The idea central to charts and tables is to take complex data and turn it into digestible bytes of information. Take a hard look at your figures and facts, and remove stuff that isn’t relevant to the core message. I’ve said this thousand of times before, but I’ll say it again for good measure: anything on your slide that is not helping your audience grasp or relate to your message, is detracting from it.

Let’s look at an example to assist us here. Let’s say you want your management team to tap into an unexplored area of the market. Try to narrow your focus to the important statistics. This might be a sales comparison or market share comparison of a similar product across brands in a particular region. Or if you want to take a much more high-level approach you may simply stick to stating the product sales, growth possibility and key competitor statistics.

  1. VISUALIZE YOUR DATA

Reduce text load when you present research reports and resulting figures. Try to let your visuals speak for themselves. Use pie charts or bar graphs to make data more digestible. Table formats will only appeal to some audience’s as they tend to always look dry and dull. Pictorials in the form of simple graphs, images, theme maps, interactive or animated graphics, and other visuals have a greater impact. Being able to visualise and draw connections between your data points visually will assist your audience’s uptake of your message.

Don’t forget the reason for using statistics: to help achieve a desired outcome. So, always ensure that your data is 1) relevant to your message and 2) shows a clear pathway to a call-to-action at the end.

How do you present your data in presentation? Do you have a favorite visualization technique?