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Presenting Data: How to Balance Details with Readability

We know that data is everywhere, and how, for any business looking to stand out from their competitors, what data it collects and ultimately turns into action is super important. Nevertheless, to produce action, we must first know how to communicate the what, the how, and the why. In our workshops, we call this Bull’s Eye Theory.


Learn to effectively present data by balancing details and readability using data storytelling and visualization techniques.

Whether you're talking to colleagues, clients, or a general audience, finding that sweet spot between detailed and easy-to-read can make a big difference.


One great way to do this is through data storytelling, which combines the accuracy of data with the fun of storytelling.


When we deliver a workshop on presentation development or report writing, we always emphasize the importance of turning your data into actionable insights using a storytelling approach.


However, before we get into that, it’s equally important to pay heed to these “unwritten rules” on how to present data:


Know Your Audience

The first step to balancing technical details or complex data with readability is knowing who you’re talking to. Different groups have different levels of technical know-how. If you're writing for data scientists, go ahead and dive into the complex stuff. But if you're talking to business executives, focus on what the data means and the actions they can take.


Keep It Simple, But Not Too Simple

Making technical information easy to understand doesn’t mean you have to dumb it down. Use plain language and avoid jargon that might confuse people. When you do need to use technical terms, explain them clearly. Analogies and metaphors are your friends here — comparing a computer’s CPU to the brain can help your non-data-oriented colleagues get the idea quickly.


Structure Matters

How you organize your information is crucial for readability. Start with a high-level summary that highlights the key points. This way, readers can get the gist quickly. Use headings and subheadings to break up the text and guide the reader. Bullet points and lists are also great for making information easy to scan.


Visuals Are Your Best Friend

Visual aids can make technical information and data much more accessible. Charts, graphs, and infographics turn raw data into visuals that are easier to digest. When creating these visuals, keep them clear and simple. Avoid clutter and make sure they directly support your main points. Using colors and annotations can help highlight key data points and trends.


Tell a Story with Your Data

Data storytelling is about blending data and narrative to create a compelling story. Start by figuring out the main message you want to convey. Then, use data to back up your story (not the other way around), adding in anecdotes and real-world examples to make it more relatable. This not only makes the info more engaging but also helps the audience see why the data matters.


For example, instead of just showing a graph of rising website traffic, tell the story of the marketing campaign that caused the spike. Explain what you did, the challenges you faced, and the results you got. This makes the data more interesting and memorable.


Engage Your Audience

Keeping your audience engaged is key. Encourage interaction by asking questions, inviting feedback, and opening up for discussion. In presentations, use visual and verbal cues to keep people interested. Online, interactive elements like clickable charts or videos can help keep your audience engaged.


Test and Improve

Finally, test your communication. Get feedback from a sample of your audience and use it to improve. Notice which parts resonate and which need more clarity. Refining your approach based on feedback ensures your message stays clear and impactful.


Takeaway

Balancing technical details with readability is a challenge, but it's essential for good communication.


By knowing your audience, simplifying without oversimplifying, structuring information clearly, using visuals, telling stories with data, engaging your audience, and continuously improving, you can make technical information easy to understand and engaging.


In an age where information is everywhere, the ability to convey complex data and technical details clearly is a valuable skill that can truly set you apart.


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