"Data Is Captain"
You just sent out your first report showing beautiful graphs and brilliant numbers, but the response you got was a resounding – SO WHAT? Why isn’t everyone else enamored with your work and astounded by your obvious brilliance?
Chances are that your graphics and data are not telling a story and you haven’t given your audience any clues on how to interpret what you’ve shared. Furthermore, without your valuable insight, recipients may come to different conclusions based on their own interpretations.
I once had a customer tell me – "Data Is Captain". He was right! But, the captain cannot stand alone. He has to bring a story with him.
With that said, what should you do differently? How can you make sure to have the most impact when sharing data?
1. Be prepared to interpret
Make sure when sharing data and reports you provide some insight into what the data is saying.
For example, if your data is showing that revenue numbers are less than forecast, can you explain why? Does this happen based on another circumstance, such as changes from one specific customer?
Do you expect it to be addressed by the next report? Is there a pattern developing that you can see?
2. Make the legends clear
Sometimes the legends in a graph are not enough to explain the data. In the example above on forecasting and revenue, did you exclude any specific groups or make any other assumptions that you want your audience to understand?
3. Keep it short and simple
Don’t write an essay. Share just enough information to make sure your audience knows what the data means, and let the discussion unfold.
4. Get feedback!There’s no better way to make sure you’re hitting your mark than to ask your audience. Confirm with them that what you have provided is indeed useful and then adjust your methods as necessary.
Do these things and the responses you get will be less of "What is this?" and more of "Tell me more of what you think about this."
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