We’ve all been there. We’re 5 minutes into (what we thought can be) a riveting, data-driven presentation, but a fast scan of the room reveals the viewers is staring blankly at our information tables as we drone on. Or worse, somebody asks a pointed query about what they do or don’t see and the dialogue goes fully in fact. Yikes.
Perhaps the perfect recommendation I ever acquired on this regard was so easy but extremely sensible: “Try it as a line graph.”
I had introduced a data-backed presentation and sturdy really useful subsequent steps, however whether or not it was boredom or information suspicion that crept in, I failed to make my case. After the weeks I spent taking a look at a spreadsheet, I took that visionary recommendation. When the day got here to remake my case, that line graph instantly received my critics over.
When achieved thoughtfully, information visualizations have the ability to change views, much more rapidly than a spreadsheet or bullet factors on a slide. Data visualization permits us to take advanced and even easy information units, and current them in a method that permits us to see context, make comparisons, and allow decision-making.
The excellent news? Giving your information a visible id is less complicated than you assume.
The Case for Data Visualization
This goes to sound cliché, however we entrepreneurs actually do have extra information at our fingertips than ever earlier than. And visualization is essential to ensure that us to actually leverage that information to inform a narrative and win over our bosses, colleagues, and prospects.
Here’s a easy instance. First, the spreadsheet model:
What can you’re taking away from this instance in simply 5 seconds? 10 seconds? 30 seconds? July 2018 and December 2017 appeared to be huge months. There was undoubtedly some development within the final two years. But how a lot? Is it constant? How are we trending?
Now, let’s take a look at this information as a line graph:
Whoa! 2018 outperformed 2017 by fairly a bit total. However, 2017 site visitors was on the up and up, and that momentum slowed in 2018. With the exception of a mid-year spike, 2018 site visitors was flat, and dipped beneath year-over-year totals by the top of the 12 months.
The magnificence right here? As we put together to ship the information to our viewers, we will draw some fairly essential conclusions at a look, serving to us rapidly arrive at what we want to discover out subsequent: What triggered that huge spike in July 2018? Is it an outlier or did now we have an efficient marketing campaign working? What did the tactical combine seem like all through 2017? What had been the highest pages contributing to regular development? Did we make main modifications at first of 2018?
This not solely helps us dig deeper into our information to perceive tendencies and alternatives, but in addition put together us to craft a story and reply the questions our bosses, colleagues, or shoppers will undoubtedly have about efficiency. After all, flashing a spreadsheet after which telling somebody site visitors is up year-over-year total however flat month-over-month for the present 12 months shouldn’t be going to ship a lot wow.
How to Get the Storytelling Started with Data Visualization
Creating a story, selecting your information set, perfecting your visualization, and including context are important for having the ability to persuade any type of motion or response with information. But whether or not you might be utilizing a easy Excel graph or a customized information visualization instrument, listed here are some nice suggestions to get began.
Tip #1 – Start along with your story and body it in your viewers.
Let’s say you’re presenting the outcomes of your most up-to-date advertising and marketing marketing campaign to your inside stakeholders. It could be tempting to throw up any information level you will get your fingers on, making an attempt to see what sticks.
Don’t do this. Your boss most likely doesn’t care about what number of shares you bought on that one weblog publish or what number of seconds somebody spent on a video. They care about new prospects, re-engaged prospects, or advocacy.
- Stay laser targeted in your goal: What are you making an attempt to obtain with this presentation? A much bigger funds? A promotion? A shift in techniques internally? Every information visualization included ought to inform that story. Too many information factors can muddy the narrative and cut back your influence.
- Use your viewers’s lens: Focus on the information you recognize is most essential to your viewers. Think of earlier shows you’ve achieved with them. Was there a specific information visualization they cherished or one they pushed again on? Edit accordingly. If it’s your first time presenting to this viewers, then use what you recognize primarily based on job titles or tradition in your workplace.
One mistake it may be simple to make as entrepreneurs, is slipping into advertising and marketing lingo (e.g. classes, shares, click-through-rate, bounce-rate). One easy shift in the event you’re presenting exterior of your staff, is shift your language to deal with significant enterprise metrics. For instance: Instead of claiming customer, say potential prospect.
Tip #2 – Design for comprehension.
Data visualization is so superior as a result of it’s ready to permit people to rapidly make comparisons and choices rapidly, even with a posh information set.
So create charts with comprehension in thoughts. If your viewers is observing a graph making an attempt to determine what it means, they’re most likely not listening to your supporting narrative. So make it simple for them to perceive. Here are some things to be mindful:
Label Everything: This appears straight ahead, however nothing is worse than when somebody pauses you mid sentence to ask you to make clear your information set. So, label your chart, axes, legend, and so forth. Also embrace a word on timeframe and information supply. Make certain all labels are seen and never obstructed by different textual content.
Chart Type: Choose the chart sort that the majority effectively illustrates your level:
- Bar charts are greatest for evaluating discrete values.
- Line charts are supposed for a steady information set.
- Pie charts present the factor one thing else is made up of, and will not be supreme for evaluating values.
- Stacked bar charts are greatest to examine totally different gadgets and present the composition.
For instance, whereas the pie chart permits us to see a breakdown of site visitors sources, the position of legend, the shut shade households, and an identical proportion of the person items make it tough for a real comparability. With the bar chart, nonetheless, you possibly can simply see how the site visitors sources stack up subsequent to each other.
Color: Incorporating shade to assist inform your story could be very highly effective, however may also lend confusion. A number of sensible issues to think about:
- Don’t select colours which are low distinction. Consider the truth that you could be presenting on a unique monitor and the viewers can be additional away from the display screen.
- Use the identical shade to signify information from the identical grouping or information set (e.g. all factors from 2018 are in inexperienced and 2019 in yellow.)
- Be cautious about utilizing colours which have important which means on their very own (e.g. vivid purple is at all times going to set off an alarm bell, whereas inexperienced tends to point out one thing is nice.)
- Use accent colours to spotlight actually key information factors. This can draw your viewers’s eye instantly and improve comprehension.
A pair closing ideas right here:
- Add call-outs to your slides so you possibly can assist your viewers perceive a knowledge set actually rapidly (e.g. Sales reached an all time excessive in June 2019).
- Keep your information ordering intuitive similar to ordering by worth, time interval, or alphabetically.
Tip #three – Create for context.
We ought to at all times anticipate, any presentation we create, can and can be handed alongside for others to devour, with out the advantage of our verbal narrative. So, it’s essential that your information visualizations have sufficient context so the influence could be understood with or with out verbal assist.
What can we imply by context? Here are some things to be mindful:
- Is this good or unhealthy? What would you count on? This is certainly a ceaselessly requested query from entrepreneurs as we’re evaluating marketing campaign or channel efficiency. One of crucial contextual markers you possibly can add to a efficiency slide is a benchmark from earlier information or third-party business information.
- Why? Data visualization may help us perceive the present scenario, however they’ll additionally assist us reply the “why” behind a knowledge set. Context on this scenario can reveal hidden insights, which may actually change the minds of our viewers. For instance, let’s say you might be charting MQLs over time, now plot that towards one other variables which can drive fluctuations in MQLs, like web site site visitors, paid funding or frequency of occasions. This may aid you decide whether or not total internet site visitors is irrelevant, however paid investments are crucial.
- What ought to we do subsequent? Now that we perceive the context for our information and what’s driving it, the following query is what ought to we do subsequent? Always embrace subsequent steps associated to your information visualization.
Finally, trying on the identical information as in our earlier visualizations. This instance dives into July 2018, with the added context of 2017. In this graph, we will simply see a spike in social triggered our July 2018 improve. Now, we will add a name out to shout out to testing a paid social marketing campaign or a contest that was working at the moment.
Tip #four: Be cautious not to mislead your viewers.
Data could be actually highly effective, if used properly. But if we don’t perceive or interpret it correctly, it could possibly additionally drive unhealthy choice making.
So as a presenter, undoubtedly do this stuff to maintain your information illustration freed from deceptive info:
- Start your key at zero (and maintain it constant): It could be tempting to make that three% improve seem like 50%, however don’t change your scale until it’s actually pertinent to the information set, after which name it out.
- Understand your information: If you (or your staff) is pulling information from a instrument like Google Analytics or Hubspot, make sure you perceive the nuance or context of your information factors (e.g. what’s included in that website conversion charge, the way you’re categorizing a brand new consumer, what’s the standards for SQL versus MQL.)
- Include context: Be cautious not to omit the context or drivers of the information set you’re conscious of, even when they don’t essentially suit your narrative. For instance, in the event you had an incredible Q3 for leads, however the first half of the 12 months was down, don’t omit that context, simply to make Q3 seem higher. That context will most likely change your tactical combine, funding ranges, and subsequent steps.
Show Don’t Tell
To be actually efficient entrepreneurs, we should evaluation and analyze information so as to make our personal choices a few tweak in techniques or a method overhaul. Our capacity to illustrate to our colleagues, bosses, and prospects how information insights inform our choices in the end impacts our capacity to transfer ahead with our plans.
So follow! Find that colleague who can evaluation your newest graph and see what their first takeaway is. Do your presentation with a smaller group earlier than you convey to your boss. See what they reply effectively to or query, and edit accordingly.
Data is energy. Data visualization is highly effective.
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Many entrepreneurs aren’t utilizing the information they’ve to its full potential. Set your self on a path to higher information and analytics utilization with the following pointers for overcoming frequent boundaries.