5 Questions to Ask when Presenting Data

Most of the time, it’s easier to present something in a story-like fashion than delivering an information-loaded, academic presentation. But it’s also true that number don’t lie. And especially when you have to persuade or sell, it usually helps to back your presentation with a certain amount of quantitative data.

However, the biggest challenge to this is putting across your collected data in a clear and concise manner so your audience can find them easy to read and interpret. Aside from the usual presentation skills, you need to arrange your information well and possess excellent organizational and superior communication skills.

To help you present data effectively, here are 5 questions you should ask:

Which 3-5 points do I want to get across?

It’s often tempting to use too many numbers to appear credible and professional. However, this will only work against you as putting too much information out there can overwhelm your audience, leaving your data difficult to understand, much less remember. Put only an appropriate amount of data per slide and ensure that each slide doesn’t take too long to present. Otherwise, you may consider breaking up your data or discarding unnecessary information altogether.

What’s the most suitable way to present my information?

This is a highly important yet often overlooked question. While lists, tables, graphs or charts all make it easier to understand and present information, using one over the other can spell the difference between an ineffective data presentation and an effective one.

For instance, whether you should use a table or graph depends on the complexity and amount of data you’ll present. Either way, you should be able to use them in such a way that you no longer need to describe them again in words. Here are some tips:

types of charts 24slides

Have I looked into design considerations?

After deciding the best method for presenting your data, you should also know that how it’s designed can make or break your chosen mode. While on one hand, design takes into account aesthetics or personal preference, it shouldn’t just be based on random design on the other which can make your otherwise organized table or chart appear cluttered and incomprehensible. Here are a few tips:

  • If there is an order or sequence to your data, you may want to choose colors of graduated shading (e.g. from light to dark tones or vice versa). The shades should be distinct enough.
  • Avoid picking the same color or using too small dots for ease in comprehension.
  • Arrange your data chronologically if applicable (e.g. ascending or descending order)
  • Ensure all data and diagrams are properly labeled.
  • Decide whether you should use two or three dimensional representations. In many cases, 3-d illustrations can make it difficult to absorb information.

Am I compromising the basic rules of presentations?

Delivering data presentations shouldn’t compromise the usual guidelines when presenting. These include:

  • Keeping everything as brief and as simple as possible.
  • Rehearsing your presentation.
  • Avoiding using your slides as a teleprompter.

Does my data drive home a point?

Your preparations, data and decisions will all be in vain if your audience leaves the room wondering what the point was for all those data.   Your data presentation needs to be accompanied by a conclusion or action plan. Establish how they are interrelated to each other. If you’re trying to persuade, make a recommendation based on the data you just presented.

Without doubt, sharing data to back up your presentation can make for a more compelling delivery and increase your credibility and expertise as long as it’s done correctly. However, if you’re still having trouble creating an effective data presentation, check out how our team in 24Slides has helped others (and can also help you!) in making data appear professional, concise and easily comprehensible. 

redraw 24slides

Do you have other points to consider in successfully delivering data presentations? Let us know through your comments below.