Think of the last time you were in a presentation that was loaded up with charts and tables. Do you remember the key points? Did the data surprise, shock, or create any kind of emotion in you? Most importantly, did it spur you to any kind of action? Maybe yes…but likely no, and too often endless charts, tables, and other analytics do more harm than good.
The Presentation Company is one such group. They offer corporate trainers that teach business people how to visually integrate their facts and data into story format. Here are some of their top tips for making data manageable when giving a presentation:
Cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner suggests we are 22 times more likely to remember a fact when it has been wrapped in a story. Why? Because stories are memorable. Stories help us grab the gist of an idea quickly. They trigger our emotions. Injecting hard numbers into your story will raise the stakes and bring your call to action into clearer focus. Bottom line – the combination of data + story — satisfying both left and right brain thinking – is what will ignite your audience to act.
1. Establish A Setting
Data has an important place in every element of a story from setting the stage to building the characters to illuminating the conflict to unveiling the resolution.
Establishing a setting doesn’t always require data. But sometimes, it can help provide attention-grabbing context and parameters about your subject. For example, if you are establishing a market size, data will answer the question how many? Where? Why? The examples below define the setting as the mobile and data markets.
2. Define Character Traits
You will deepen your story by describing the characters in your setting. Characters are integral to stories because they are both affecting and being affected by the setting you have described. Whether you are talking about customers, senior management, or new hires at your office, your audience will want to learn more about who they are and what their motivations are.
3. Define What Is At Stake: THE CONFLICT
After you’ve established the setting and your character, the role of your data is even more critical as it serves to increase the “tension” in your story. But be careful! Here is where you can go overboard and steal your own momentum. Be strategic on charts and tables (read: less is more). Always strive to present data in the most graphical light. The examples below identify the story’s conflict with more data (left) and less (right).
The table below is another example of how evidence of the conflict is revealed visually. Notice how the slide headline spells out the most important finding. Also, the most pertinent data is elevated with the use of color and callouts. Don’t make people work hard to understand the key point.
4. Show Resolution And The Future