Data is facts, figures, numbers, images, mailers, spread sheets; pretty much anything that attempts to inform you.
Did you know that false structures and scaffolding were constructed around the Taj Mahal through different conflicts to confuse German, Pakistani and Japanese bomber pilots?
Also did you know that the Taj Mahal is actually cracking at an alarming rate due to the lack of groundwater beneath the structure?
The facts, both about the Taj Mahal made you feel different emotions.
Data needs to tell a story. Data yearns to feel. Data has to have a narrative.
Pick up the driest facts, “unsullied” by emotions and they usually make no sense, unless you feel something about them.
Think back to some of the most transformational moments in your life; my guess is that data has barely moved you by itself. It is always the emotions around them that provoke you, inspire you or elicit a response from you.
How do you get data to work for you?
- Set the context and build “audience intent”
Use an Agenda/ Outline Slide to grab attention; all the data in the world doesn’t help if one doesn’t want to listen.
- Leave the audience with a message
Don’t leave it to chance. Explicitly spell it out.
- Bite- size the data and FEEL it
Hachiko is the wonderful story of a dog that loved its master; even after death. That he was dead didn’t matter to his devotion.
While the entire movie drives this home, what also matters are the bite- sized moments that Hachiko has with the Professor’s wife, his daughter and with the townspeople in general. Every interaction is realistic, visual and emotional.
Hachiko is the sum of all his interactions.
When you present data, it is the sum of all your thoughts, all your research and all your inferences. And while you have had time to feel every bit, the audience hasn’t.
Maybe this is what you can do-
This is easy. Just summarize what you have said so far. Pick up the key messages and reiterate.
All the data that you have is the prerequisite to being aware and to taking thought through decisions. Data needs to evoke a response from the audience; it needs to leave them with a thought or well on their way to a decision.
May this be the guiding principle to all your data presentations- “How has your data made their decision making process easier”?