We love Excel, and we believe in the power of data, but even we can admit that data by itself is not appealing to most people. Huge, complex spreadsheets are fantastic, but what is the use of them if the insights aren’t shared and strategic insights applied?
If we want people to engage with our content or data, we have to make it interesting. We’ve got to analyse and communicate it in a way that tells a story. That’s when it will cut through and have impacts for people and for organisations.
So, here are three steps to help you bring your data to life.
1. Find the story
The first step is to analyse the data. A great way to do this is to think about it from your audience’s perspective. What is the most relevant hook or angle for your stakeholders? This is the stage where you do the hard work for you audience. It’s helpful at this point to also think about what the implications are of the data, which you can communicate in the next stage.
2. Visualise the story
Once you’ve found the story and drawn out the key insights, it’s time to visualise it. Graphs and tables are a great start, but icons or symbols are even better when it comes to telling a data-based story. Another tip: utilise the power of colour to show contrast and add meaning.
3. Distil and tell the story
The final step is to distil your visuals and tell the story. If you’ve been conducting the analysis, you might think every single detail is interesting, but remember that your audience might not. Try and condense it to the main, key points. In essence, less is more.
One great way to share a data story with stakeholders is by using PowerPoint, because you can show why the data is relevant, before you share the main points. You can use reveals to build suspense within the story and take your audience on a journey. And, if you are worried about Death by PowerPoint, don’t be, as it refers to slideshows that are full of text, with no visuals. Why is this important? Because all generations, but especially the younger ones, would prefer to watch something than read it. That’s why we have the slang TL;DR – Too Long Didn’t Read! But when your data is interesting, when it tells a story and is brought to life with visuals, you can instruct and inspire your audience in a meaningful way.
We hope these small tips help you to bring your data to life. If you have a data story to tell but don’t know where to start, please get in touch as our data visualisation experts would love to assist.