We are increasingly surrounded by data to the effect that surpasses our capacity to handle it effectively. No surprises here–if we could efficiently process all the information surrounding us, we’d all be machines.
However, simply having the ability to retrieve data and organise is just one aspect of achieving success; it requires effective communication of that data to remain competitive.
Therefore, it is crucial to acquire the skills necessary for accurate interpretation and effective presentation of data. When data is simply dumped on us without proper organisation or context, it becomes overwhelming and negatively impacts our cognitive abilities.
At NxtGEN, we believe that the ability to communicate data is a valuable skill that sets individuals apart as effective communicators. If you find yourself grappling with data-heavy presentations in your professional life or your organisation and wish to address this issue, read on.
Consider this scenario: You are participating in a bi-weekly marketing team call that includes a quick Q&A session led by data analysts to investigate the latest developments and issues. As everyone joins the call according to schedule, you eagerly await the results. Your main objective is to understand the reasons behind the declining metrics so that you can provide valuable ideas to the team. The insights you anticipate are crucial for shaping your marketing strategy for the upcoming month and ultimately improving your product communication.
Unfortunately, the abundance of information overwhelms you, and you find yourself getting lost in the sea of numbers. The meeting seems to drag on, and you had assumed that the presenters possessed basic data presentation skills and knew how to effectively communicate their message. However, you quickly realise that your assumption was incorrect…
If this sounds like a familiar sequence of events, or if you feel that your analytical or financial teams deliver slide decks that are too complex, or it takes them forever to get to the point – you are likely dealing with a data dump.
The term “data dump” typically refers to releasing a large amount of data, often unstructured or unfiltered. And so, basic data literacy — the ability to analyse, interpret, and even question data — is an invaluable skill, according to Harvard Business School Professor, Janice Hammond.
Too much information
While data analytics is an incredibly useful tool for any organisation, it is only one part of the story. It is communicating the results and outcomes to the stakeholders that is crucial. An analysis is essential because it aims at extracting meaningful insights that an organisation can use to reach its objectives. However, too much data and the inability to communicate it to the interested parties cause information overload and pose a serious threat to their understanding and motivation.
The truth that information overload kills productivity, damps creativity and can make us generally unhappy, was backed up by McKinsey’s researchers Derek Dean and Caroline Webb.
The implication? Information overload slows down our productivity. We feel confused, and frustrated, and naturally start making mistakes. In other words, information overload shuts our brains down. Here’s what The Brief Lab say on the matter:
“It’s like exercising until the point of exhaustion. Once your body is maxed out, it shuts down“.
This and other costly consequences may easily be avoided and are within your organisation’s grasp. Investing in relevant data presentation training will save you and your teams a lot in the long run. It is important to remember that data-telling is a capability that can be learnt as any other skill.
When seeking training for your data-telling training provider, prioritise finding someone who can provide practical messaging tools that can be implemented immediately rather than focusing solely on theory.
We believe it is possible to enhance the communication skills of data analysts and technical-oriented presenters through training, even if communication does not come naturally to everyone. By leveraging powerful yet simple tools, we can improve the effectiveness of our messages and delivery.
The power of the framework
Everyone can enhance their data presentations by incorporating a few fundamental messaging tools. One of them is The Data-Driven Decision-Making Framework.
Using data effectively may involve employing various tools and models. One such framework is the data-driven decision-making framework, recommended in Harvard Business Review’s “Beginner’s Guide to Data & Analytics.”
Following the HBR model, we propose the following six-step approach for leveraging data to inform business decisions:
- Comprehend the business problem: Clearly define the objectives or goals you aim to achieve.
- Manage data: Scrutinise, validate and organise the data to ensure its quality and reliability.
- Visualise the data: Present your data in visual formats that highlight relevant trends and correlations.
- Formulate hypotheses: Develop predictions and assumptions based on emerging patterns and insights from the data.
- Perform analysis: Employ statistical tests and analytical techniques to verify the accuracy of your hypotheses.
- Communicate findings: Present the results within the context of the original business problem, conveying actionable insights.
Gaining proficiency in data frameworks, as the one mentioned here, empowers you to extract valuable insights from raw datasets, comprehend their story, and address relevant business questions. Our training programs developed by iSpeak offer proven communication structures that efficiently facilitate this process.
Get in touch
The ability to present data with clarity and confidence is one of the most vital aspects of business growth. With solid data presentation skills, your team will increase engagement, credibility, and persuasive influence. To find out more, you may want to read our article: Tips for Effective Data Presentation.
NxtGEN Executive Presence helps companies to establish and develop outstanding data-telling skills that facilitate effective communication. With the relevant, tailored training programmes, you will elevate your data presentations from those that confuse to ones that truly inspire.
Together with iSpeak, our global partner, we offer simple training solutions that bring tangible benefits. If you’re ready to learn how to harness the power of data-telling for your team, get in touch with us here.