Storytelling with data

Data can be dense and overwhelming. Bob Dvorak shares his top tips to optimize your business presentation and data visualization skills.


Emily Branch




Emily Branch

3 minutes

"Both data visualization and infographics turn data into images that nearly anyone can easily understand—making them invaluable tools for explaining the significance of digits."
–Jonsen Carmack, entrepreneur

Data can be dense. This makes overwhelming an audience with too much information a tricky obstacle for many business presenters.

In Episode 8 of Think Deeply, Speak SimplyStorytelling with Data—business professional Bob Dvorak expresses that he knows this danger all too well.

As a former senior partner of McKinsey & Company, Bob's decades-long experience offers plenty of solutions for optimizing your corporate presentation skills. Here are three of Bob’s favorite tips for effective storytelling with data.

Avoid data dumping

Your audience should never have to work to comprehend your presentation’s key takeaways.

Instead, Bob advises, “Try never to make your audience think…. if you give them too much data or the wrong data, you lose control of where you’re going.”

Only give your audience the pages and visuals that support your story. Avoid any data dumping or extra information that confuses or overwhelms them. Strike a healthy balance as you walk the audience through the relevancy of each data point and why it should matter to them.

Simplify everything

And we mean everything. If the data doesn’t support your presentation’s narrative, exclude it. Aim to include the least amount of information needed to be compelling. Think deeply about who your audience is and how they think about the problem. This will help you translate the information in a tailored approach that appeals to their unique needs.

Make it memorable

You can remain practical while still thinking outside the box.

Take the dry data analytics process and turn it into something relatable. Feed them no more than five taglines that can be easily remembered and repeat them long after the presentation ends. Audience members are far more likely to recall information strategically paired with data visualization tools that paint a vivid image. Never doubt the significance of making your audience feel good, either. People will always remember how they felt during a meeting, so always polish your presentation with a solid dose of personalization.

Rock your next business presentation with these transformational communication tips.
Catch the full conversation with Bob Dvorak

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