Without context or explanation, data is little more than numbers and statistics on a computer screen, right? Or, if you’re really retro, figures on a paper spreadsheet!
As a data practitioner, you need to describe what your data means and how stakeholders can make use of that data. And all that requires communication skills, data visualization tools and an ability to decode information like a data detective. You’ll also need to explain your data findings if you enroll in Pragmatic Institute’s Business-Driven Data Analysis course. That’s because your instructors want to know that you understand how to interpret data sets and contextualize them.
Here’s everything you need to know about communicating data now and in the future.
Why Do You Even Need to Explain Data?
Being a data practitioner is all about interpreting data. That involves identifying patterns and trends in information so businesses can make better decisions. But it also means providing human context to data so people can understand it. Remember, not everyone knows what data variables or outliers are or how to find correlations and relationships in data sets. And that’s why you’ll need to explain what data signifies and the value it brings. Data practitioners around the world explain and contextualize data every single day!
When you present data to stakeholders in the company you work for, they can:
- Identify ways to save money
- Learn more about their customers
- Improve workflows
- Evaluate employee performance
- Find out what their competitors are doing
Of course, you need to fully understand the relationships between data sets before you can feel confident communicating insights. Enrolling in Pragmatic Institute’s Business-Driven Data Analysis program can prepare you for your career in data and help you learn skills that will impress stakeholders. You can complete this course in as little as eight weeks part-time.
What Does Explaining Data Involve?
Before you present data findings, you need to accumulate data from systems your business uses and third-party tools. You’ll then integrate this information, usually with a central repository like a data warehouse, and then push data through business intelligence tools. Think of programs like Tableau, Looker and Microsoft BI. All this software presents data through visualizations, which makes it easier to view patterns, trends and anomalies. These visualizations include:
- Scatter plots
You’ll then present your best data findings to an audience, such as key decision-makers and other stakeholders in the organization you work for. You’ll communicate insights in a way your audience understands. That helps them learn about their business and predict future outcomes that might influence operations.
In a program like Pragmatic Institute’s Business-Driven Data Analysis course, you’ll work on real data sets to upskill as a data professional. You can then analyze this data, draw conclusions and present your insights to instructors as part of your coursework. Your instructors will then give you feedback about how you interpret data and communicate your findings. As a result, you’ll become a more proficient data practitioner over time.
How to Explain Data More Effectively
Whether you’re presenting information to non-data professionals or instructors in a data program, you’ll want to do it properly. Here are some tips for more effective communication.
Tell a Story
Storytelling with data is one of the best ways to engage your audience. You’ll essentially create a narrative from your data findings to solve a problem your audience might have, such as a sales slump or a drop in employee productivity.
Provide as Much Context as Possible
It’s no use just showing slides on a computer screen during a data presentation. You’ll need to dig deep into your data and contextualize it for your audience. Ask yourself questions like:
- “Why will stakeholders care about this piece of data?”
- “How does this data solve a problem?”
- “Will this data encourage stakeholders to think differently about their business?”
Use phrases like “This chart shows…” and “This data set reveals…” to illustrate key points.
Prepare to Be the Bearer of Bad News
Not all data is good data. You might uncover something negative that will impact a business, such as data revealing a drop in revenue over time. Whatever your findings disclose, you must communicate them to decision-makers or, if you’re in a data program, to your instructors. It might be uncomfortable to share bad news, but your audience needs to know the truth.
Business intelligence tools can generate thousands of metrics and key performance indicators, but most of these will provide little value. Instead of telling your audience about every data point, focus on the most essential and valuable takeaways. For example, ask yourself whether a sales increase of 0.2% over the last month is worth mentioning.
Encourage Audience Participation
Your audience should be heavily invested in your data findings. In a business setting, encourage them to ask questions about your insights if they need additional context or explanation. You can also provide a report of the most critical conclusions from your analysis via email after your presentation. That will allow your colleagues to review key points and re-evaluate your data for better decision-making.
Ready to Embark on Your Data Journey?
It’s critical to think about how you communicate your data findings to business stakeholders. Follow the tips above to make your presentations more effective and engaging.
As for data programs, Pragmatic Institute offers a Business-Driven Data Analysis course that takes as little as 8 weeks to complete part-time. In this program, you can:
- Learn what a stakeholder wants, customize data projects based on the newest data and solve real-world business challenges.
- Develop skills for leveraging data across different projects and toolsets.
- Move beyond the spreadsheet and generate more accurate intelligence that ensures alignment with business stakeholders.
Register your place on the Business-Driven Data Analysis program today!