Data analysis is important but if we are not able to communicate and present effectively, it seems like a bit of a waste?

During our time at the Data School we have been taught the importance of presenting and have had the chance to practice a lot. I wanted to share some of the key practical tips I have learnt (so far….).

There are three main situations you may need to present data –
• Teaching/Webinars
• To a group of stakeholders
• To a wider audience

First lets look at setting up your computer for presenting –

  • Clean up your desktop and hide your icons
  • Close all browsers
  • Turn all notifications off
  • Change your mouse settings to make your mouse more visible (extra large and track location)
  • Download ‘Zoomit’. This is a tool used to zoom into where your mouse is. (Make sure you practice using this)
  • Make sure your laptop doesn’t time out > Power settings > change to never

And now in person training –

  • You want everyone to leave the training feeling like they have got something out of it.
  • It is helpful to ask at the beginning what everyone’s experience is. Pitch your training to the middle 80% of people.
  • You can engage people more easily in person. Think of examples that help people to interact and get involved including those who have a higher or lower ability.
  • Make sure you look at the audience often to keep them engaged.
  • Use a whiteboard or post-it notes to record questions that people may ask but you cannot cover at that exact moment.
  • Focus on one screen at a time. Use your own screen when you are building something.
  • Projectors whitewash everything. Make sure your default colour schemes are dark.
    Test out the screen in advance.
    Keep your hands off the mouse to stop it moving around and distracting people.

And to a wider audience or stakeholders –

  • Like with in-person training, make sure you know who you are presenting to and pitch accordingly.
  • Three key things you need to think about – Introduction, your story/narrative and the takeaway messages.
  • In your introduction, introduce your presentation and tell the audience something about yourself (this helps to humanise yourself).
  • You need to tell people the narrative story. People will take away the overall theme rather than the exact numbers. Titles are the easiest way to clearly show the narrative.
  • To conclude, give people a take home message, sum up the key points you’ve talked about, and leave time for any questions.
  • Make your slides very minimal, use big fonts and use dark colours.
  • Your graphs/charts need to be understandable in half the amount of time it is on screen for.
  • Explain everything – you do not have to dumb your data down. If you have to present a dashboard, talk through each part slowly.
  • When presenting data on a bigger screen, break your dashboard charts into individual charts which you can make larger.

And lastly, practice, practice, practice!