When it comes to presenting in front of high-level decision-makers within an organization, data, analytics, and objective insights are king. The problem is that communicating this information is challenging.
Mandel, a provider of communication skills training for professionals, has four tips for business managers, sales teams, and technical or analytical professionals to help them deliver powerful data-backed presentations when presenting data and analytics.
While there are exceptions to the rule, most people are prone to doze off and fall asleep when presented with cold, hard facts. Yet, if someone is presenting something of value to decision-makers within the organization, data is their best friend. It's objective and irrefutable.
Thus, in order to maximize the value of data without tranquilizing an audience with a heavy dosage of boredom, presenters have to find a way to make their presentations engaging.
Raw data is basically useless in a presentation setting. While speakers can use it to generate findings and reach conclusions, the audience isn't going to follow them step by step through the discovery process. They want data delivered on a silver platter – already clean, refined, and ready for consumption.
The best way to show them the findings without oversimplifying or overcomplicating is to use data visualization and analytics software.
How speakers structure their presentations will, to a large degree, determine its influence. Know the audience and choose a structure that's conducive to smooth mental processing. Many speakers find the rule of three to be ideal when delivering data-based presentations.
"Humans are both neurologically and culturally adapted to the number three and its combination of brevity and rhythm," founder Steve Mandel explains.
"We know from studies in neuroscience that our brains seek out patterns and find the structure of three to be a complete set; it feels whole," said Mandel.
There are multiple ways to follow the rule of three, but it typically involves:
There's a time and place for dishing out statistics in a spreadsheet, but speakers are almost always better off leveraging visual storytelling.
Colorful charts with simple legends and clear takeaways – coupled with real-world illustrations that exemplify the findings – are the way to go.
At the end of the presentation, audibly recap what was covered by synthesizing the data into a couple of key points.
Provide a handout at the end of the presentation that lists the key data points on a single sheet of paper.
After the presentation is over, these are the takeaways the audience will remember.