Data is powerful. Let’s just start at that.
To harness the power of this data and drive success, effective communication is crucial. But raw numbers and statistics alone can fail to capture the attention and interest of audiences, and this is where the art of data communication comes at play.
When data is communicated well, it bridges the gap between raw data and knowledge, engaging audiences at an emotional level and making the information more memorable for them. It acts as a catalyst for making more informed decisions, unlocking value across various functions within the business.
Our objective should always be to generate interest among audiences, create a sense of intrigue and motivate further exploration of the data. The output should encourage audiences to ask questions and seek deeper understanding.
Three elements of effective data communication
For data communication to be effective, there needs to be a harmonious integration of data, narrative and visuals, that can transform raw information into a compelling story, with the power to inform and influence the audience.
Data forms the foundation of data communication. It can be a collection of facts and information, in any structure and format, and can come from a variety of sources, such as surveys, social media, or even databases.
Narrative is where the storytelling aspect of the communication comes alive. A well-structured narrative provides context, explains the significance of the data, and highlights the key insights and implications. It helps audiences understand the relevance and importance of the data being presented.
Visuals enhance understanding and engagement, through the use of charts, graphs, infographics, and even diagrams. By simplifying complex information, highlighting patterns and trends, and facilitating comparisons and relationships, the message being delivered becomes easier to interpret and understand.
Keep your audience at the center of your communication
All said and done, when you work on any data project, always keep your audience at the center, because if the message you want to convey isn’t relevant to your intended audience, it won’t have the impact you want.
To get better clarity on the direction you want to take your data project, ask yourself a few important questions.
- Who is my audience?
- Does the communication solve a problem or provide needed insight?
- Have they seen or heard this type of communication before?
- How skilled is my audience? Are they novices? Generalists? Experts?
If you have multiple audience types viewing your work, then focus the content for the highest decision maker who will view your work and provide enough background information so that they can understand the context behind your story and realize clearly how it affects them. And most importantly, categorize your audience based on their knowledge of the topic, not just their knowledge of data.
The four golden Es of data communication you can follow
When data is shared transparently and in a comprehensible format, it becomes more persuasive and impactful, and creates a common language that encourages cross-functional collaboration. But how do we weave the data in a way that can make it easier for audiences to grasp the key messages?
We recommend keeping in mind four golden Es.
- Make it Engaging
- Increase your audience’s attention by making good use of visual dynamics.
- Go monochrome and use distinctive colors to highlight your most important piece of data, or use gray to minimize focus in certain areas.
- Use lines, arrows or circle marks to guide the eyes and physically point out the key data points.
- Discuss visualization with your audiences at a contextual level, don’t just repeat what the visual is already showing.
- Give your data communication a visual identity. For instance, use brand colors, specific design theme, special fonts etc. It generates a familiarity that audiences can engage with from beginning till the end.
- Make it Effective
- Tailor your communication to the specific audience, based on their hierarchy, technical proficiency and interest level.
- Provide context, interpret results, and articulate insights with a compelling narrative.
- Visually highlight the “Aha!” zone with a circle or shading and reinforce the takeaway with proper statements.
- Keep it relevant. Avoid unnecessary fluff and include data points that are relevant to the issue the audience is interested in.
- If your communication is a presentation, then retain the same underlying message throughout the entire communication to make each slide feel like part of the connecting story.
- Make it Efficient
- For presentations, start with an outline so the audience knows what they’ll get out of each portion of the presentation.
- Don’t forget to add an Executive Summary to provide context to the presentation they’re about to read.
- Keep it short. Include only the absolutely necessary content in the slides.
- Add a key takeaway to the bottom of each slide, to make it easier to scan through the presentation.
- Share the data points that will support your point and try to convey one point per chart.
- Don’t be afraid to Experiment
- Data visualization is a place where science meets art and statistics meets design.
- Don’t be discouraged to try out creative ways to visualize data.
- Keep the information you’re trying to communicate at the center of your story, push some creative boundaries and try out new ways to make a lasting impact with your work.
Remember, effective data communication involves understanding your audience, structuring the narrative in a logical and compelling way, using visualizations to support the story, and delivering the information with clarity. By embracing the art of data communication, you can ultimately make your messages more impactful, memorable, and actionable for your audience.
About Decision Foundry
Decision Foundry is a Salesforce, independent software vendor, managed services provider, and a certified award-winning Salesforce Marketing Cloud integration partner. Decision Foundry closes the gap between data accessibility, platform adoption and business impact. Our consulting services include the integration of Data Cloud, Account, Engagement, Personalization, Tableau, and Intelligence.