Presenting on difficult topics
Impromptu Speaking Tactics
Using visual data or graphs within your presentation is a great way to make a point or add evidence to support your argument.
But your data or graph will be wasted if it is not presented in a way that your audience can understand and really engage with. It will not drive them to positive action.
This short article outlines how you should be using data and graphs within your presentation, so that they inspire and motivate your audience rather than just leaving them thinking, ‘So what?’.
There are three main types of presenter when it comes to presenting graphs and data...
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If you you are a Bronze level data communicator, you are probably putting up a graph like the one below and simply saying,
"This graph shows that sea levels are rising."
That could have been an email. Your audience could have worked that one out without you speaking. You may have even infuriated your audience slightly by stating the obvious and wasting their time.
If you are a Silver level data communicator, you might put up the same graph and say,
"This graph shows that sea levels are rising, which will have cultural and economic impacts."
This is better, you have led your audience towards some conclusions about the data and what it might mean in terms of your topic or argument.
But… once again, ‘So what?’.
We have told our audience what the graph is showing, and we have generalised the outcomes that may occur.
But here’s the key question - What does that really mean for your audience?
If you can make the consequences of your data or graph real and relevant for your audience, then they will really ‘get’ the point you are making. They will understand how it will impact their own lives and what they might need to do to avoid a negative outcome. By listening to you bringing the data to life, they will be inspired, motivated and persuaded to act.
If you do this, then you will surely be a Gold level data communicator.
A Gold level data communicator might bring the data to life by sharing a vision story of,
"This data shows that sea levels are rising and that will have cultural and economic impacts. For example, with the UK, there will be a national refugee crisis, and there will be more people moving into towns and cities and putting pressure onto key infrastructure like healthcare.
Your children, you, your elderly relatives might not be able to access the services that they need at the time they need them, and that could have dire consequences.”
So, if you want to be a Gold level data communicator, then the key questions you need to ask yourself when you are presenting data are:
What does this data show?
How can I use examples and stories to make it real and relevant for my audience, so that this data has maximum impact?