We’ve all been there. We’re 5 minutes into (what we thought could 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 utterly after all. Yikes.
Perhaps the very best 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 accomplished thoughtfully, information visualizations have the ability to change views, way more shortly than a spreadsheet or bullet factors on a slide. Data visualization permits us to take complicated and even easy information units, and current them in a means that enables us to see context, make comparisons, and allow decision-making.
The excellent news? Giving your information a visible identification is simpler 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 large months. There was undoubtedly some progress within the final two years. But how a lot? Is it constant? How are we trending?
Now, let’s have a look at this information as a line graph:
Whoa! 2018 outperformed 2017 by fairly a bit general. 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 yr.
The magnificence right here? As we put together to ship the info to our viewers, we will draw some fairly vital conclusions at a look, serving to us shortly arrive at what we want to discover out subsequent: What prompted that large 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 progress? Did we make main modifications at first of 2018?
This not solely helps us dig deeper into our information to perceive developments and alternatives, but in addition put together us to craft a story and reply the questions our bosses, colleagues, or purchasers will undoubtedly have about efficiency. After all, flashing a spreadsheet after which telling somebody site visitors is up year-over-year general however flat month-over-month for the present yr will not 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’re utilizing a easy Excel graph or a customized information visualization device, listed below are some nice suggestions to get began.
Tip #1 – Start together with your story and body it to your viewers.
Let’s say you’re presenting the outcomes of your most up-to-date advertising and marketing marketing campaign to your inner stakeholders. It will be tempting to throw up any information level you will get your palms on, making an attempt to see what sticks.
Don’t try this. Your boss most likely doesn’t care about what number of shares you bought on that one weblog submit or what number of seconds somebody spent on a video. They care about new prospects, re-engaged prospects, or advocacy.
- Stay laser centered in your goal: What are you making an attempt to obtain with this presentation? A much bigger funds? A promotion? A shift in ways internally? Every information visualization included ought to inform that story. Too many information factors can muddy the narrative and cut back your affect.
- Use your viewers’s lens: Focus on the info you recognize is most vital to your viewers. Think of earlier shows you’ve accomplished 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 based mostly 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. periods, shares, click-through-rate, bounce-rate). One easy shift for those who’re presenting exterior of your workforce, is shift your language to give attention to 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 in a position to enable people to shortly make comparisons and choices shortly, even with a fancy information set.
So create charts with comprehension in thoughts. If your viewers is looking at a graph making an attempt to work out 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 consider:
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 observe on timeframe and information supply. Make certain all labels are seen and never obstructed by different textual content.
Chart Type: Choose the chart kind that the majority effectively illustrates your level:
- Bar charts are finest for evaluating discrete values.
- Line charts are supposed for a steady information set.
- Pie charts present the ingredient one thing else is made up of, and should not very best for evaluating values.
- Stacked bar charts are finest 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 location of legend, the shut shade households, and an identical proportion of the person items make it troublesome for a real comparability. With the bar chart, nevertheless, you’ll be able to simply see how the site visitors sources stack up subsequent to each other.
Color: Incorporating shade to assist inform your story will be very highly effective, however may also lend confusion. Just a few sensible issues to think about:
- Don’t select colours which are low distinction. Consider the truth that chances are you’ll be presenting on a distinct monitor and the viewers will likely 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 vital which means on their very own (e.g. shiny 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 ultimate ideas right here:
- Add call-outs to your slides so you’ll be able to assist your viewers perceive a knowledge set actually shortly (e.g. Sales reached an all time excessive in June 2019).
- Keep your information ordering intuitive comparable 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 will likely be handed alongside for others to eat, with out the advantage of our verbal narrative. So, it’s vital that your information visualizations have sufficient context so the affect will be understood with or with out verbal assist.
What can we imply by context? Here are some things to consider:
- Is this good or unhealthy? What would you anticipate? This is unquestionably a regularly requested query from entrepreneurs as we’re evaluating marketing campaign or channel efficiency. One of an important contextual markers you’ll be able to add to a efficiency slide is a benchmark from earlier information or third-party trade information.
- Why? Data visualization may also help us perceive the present state of affairs, however they’ll additionally assist us reply the “why” behind a knowledge set. Context on this state of affairs can reveal hidden insights, which might actually change the minds of our viewers. For instance, let’s say you’re charting MQLs over time, now plot that in opposition to one other variables which can drive fluctuations in MQLs, like web site site visitors, paid funding or frequency of occasions. This would possibly provide help to decide whether or not general net site visitors is irrelevant, however paid investments are essential.
- What ought to we do subsequent? Now that we perceive the context for our information and what’s driving it, the subsequent 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 prompted 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 will be actually highly effective, if used properly. But if we don’t perceive or interpret it correctly, it may well additionally drive unhealthy determination making.
So as a presenter, undoubtedly do this stuff to hold your information illustration freed from deceptive info:
- Start your key at zero (and hold it constant): It will be tempting to make that three% improve seem like 50%, however don’t change your scale except it’s actually pertinent to the info set, after which name it out.
- Understand your information: If you (or your workforce) is pulling information from a device like Google Analytics or Hubspot, ensure you perceive the nuance or context of your information factors (e.g. what’s included in that website conversion fee, 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 info set you’re conscious of, even when they don’t essentially suit your narrative. For instance, for those who had an important Q3 for leads, however the first half of the yr 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 assessment and analyze information so as to make our personal choices a couple of tweak in ways or a technique overhaul. Our skill to illustrate to our colleagues, bosses, and prospects how information insights inform our choices finally impacts our skill to transfer ahead with our plans.
So follow! Find that colleague who can assessment your newest graph and see what their first takeaway is. Do your presentation with a smaller group earlier than you carry 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 info they’ve to its full potential. Set your self on a path to higher information and analytics utilization with the following tips for overcoming widespread obstacles.