🎉 Let’s kick things off with a quick question: Have you ever felt like no one gets you? Like when you crack a joke in class, and all you hear are crickets 🦗, or when you send your BFF a message, and they totally misinterpret it? Or maybe when you email your teacher, but somehow your message just doesn’t land, right? These awkward, sometimes funny 😄, sometimes annoying moments are when we bump into the real power and, indeed, the art of crafting a message. 💌
What if I told you that each day, you’re already dealing with this tricky skill, unknowingly tweaking your words, gestures, and tones to steer your way through your life’s story? From the way you ask for food at a restaurant 🍔 to how you persuade your friend for a favor, your life is a non-stop exchange of messages that you’re shaping and reshaping. The only difference between you and an expert communicator is knowing and consciously using this process – the process of refining your message. 💬🔧
Why is it important to prepare what and how you will deliver your message when presenting a data story?
- To ensure that the tone is consistent and appropriate throughout your presentation. The tone of a presentation can influence how the audience perceives and receives the data story. You wouldn’t jump off a diving board without checking the water below, right? The same applies to presenting your data story.
- To select words that are relatable, actionable, and engaging for your audience. Let’s consider you’re telling your basketball team about how the practice has improved your scoring. If you choose words that are relatable, actionable, and engaging, like, “Our three-point shots have been skyrocketing!” you can motivate your team to keep practicing.
- To craft effective soundbites that highlight the key points of your data story. Soundbites are useful because they are easy to remember and can make your presentation more memorable. And if you craft effective soundbites that highlight key points of your data story, they can be as catchy as a cool team slogan.
- Focusing on how you will deliver your message allows you to determine which points are worth repeating. Why repeat your message? Well, think about that catchy song you just can’t get out of your head. Repetition cements the key takeaways in the audience’s memory, and the same goes for your data story.
How do you make your message memorable when giving a data presentation?
- Set the tone of your message
When you’re setting the tone of your message, which could be formal or informal, serious or humorous, think about what’s fitting for your data story. Consider the nature of your data and its implications. Is it a serious topic requiring a formal tone? Or is it an exciting new trend that warrants an enthusiastic, upbeat tone? Match your tone to the topic. If you’re presenting to the school board about the need for a new computer lab because of the rising interest in coding, a serious, formal tone might be best. However, if you’re presenting to your classmates about how popularity in different music genres changes throughout the school year, an enthusiastic, upbeat tone might be more suitable. Consider the emotions you want your data story to evoke in your audience. Use a tone that will evoke these emotions, whether it’s excitement, concern, intrigue, or any other reaction.
- Choose your words wisely
Use words that pique your audience’s interest. Use catchy words and phrases. Use specific words that paint a clear picture in your audience’s mind. Phrase for the right-brain (use “growing” instead of “increasing”). Use the active voice to make your statements more direct and engaging.
Choosing the right words is like picking out the right outfit—it has to fit the occasion and attract attention. If you’re running for student council, you wouldn’t just say, “I want to make changes.” Often said to be right-brain oriented–phrasing emphasizes creativity, emotion, and storytelling, and it involves using vivid language, metaphors, and visual imagery to evoke an emotional response and engage the audience’s imagination–try using specific and catchy words like, “I want to ignite a transformation in our school.” Use specific words that paint a clear picture in your audience’s mind, and use the active voice to make your statements more direct and engaging.
- Turn your words into memorable soundbites. Soundbites are short, impactful statements that can be easily remembered and repeated. Here are a few tricks you can use:
Allusion: Referencing a well-known person, event, literature, or quote to make your statement more relatable and memorable. Like saying, “We want our school spirit to be as infectious as a viral TikTok dance!”
Anaphora: Repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses or sentences. This helps to emphasize a point and make it memorable. For example, in Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.”
Epiphora: Repetition of a word or phrase at the end of successive clauses or sentences. This creates a rhythmic, poetic quality that can be quite catchy.
Alliteration: Repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words. This often creates a memorable, catchy effect, like “make money move.”
Tricolon: Using a series of three elements to create a powerful, rhythmic effect. Such as in the phrase, “I came; I saw; I conquered.”
- Repeat, repeat, repeat. Just like practicing a new skill, the more you repeat your key points, the better your audience will remember them.
Bing, Bang, Bongo (or Tell ‘Em’): refers to the structured approach of introducing information in three stages: headline (bing), explanation (bang), and key takeaway (bongo). In this approach, you “Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em, tell ‘em, then tell ‘em what you’ve told ‘em.”
PEEL: Point, Evidence, Explanation, Link. You present an idea or assertion, back it up with evidence, explain how the evidence supports the point, and then link the discussion back to the main topic or argument.
What are best practices and things to watch out for when preparing the message for a data storytelling presentation?
- Ensure consistency in tone. Consistency will make your message more coherent and easier to follow. It will also help in building a reliable image for you in front of the audience.
- Use audience-friendly terms and explain acronyms. Just like you wouldn’t speak in a secret language to your friends, try to avoid using jargon that your audience won’t understand. If you have to use acronyms, or specific terms, make sure you explain them just as you would explain the rules of a new game.
- Pair data points with compelling visuals. Visuals can be your best friend when presenting data. Think about the difference between reading a game manual and watching a game tutorial video. One is far more engaging than the other, right? The same goes for your data presentation.
- Pair your soundbites with compelling visuals. This combination will make the information more impactful and easier to remember.
- Repeat key insights and recommendations. Remember, it’s not just about presenting the data but about telling a compelling and memorable story. By honing your message, you’ll ensure your data doesn’t just inform but also influences and inspires. Now, let’s make our data speak louder and clearer than ever before!
Hashtag Impact: Henry’s Data Driven Social Media Revolution
Henry was an enthusiastic high school student with a keen interest in data and a passion for social media. However, he noticed a disconnect at his school: While everyone was engaging on social media, they didn’t seem to understand its full potential for positive change. Henry believed that if his peers understood the impact of their social media habits, they could use these platforms more effectively. But how to convey this idea?
His answer: Data.
With the annual school assembly just weeks away, he saw an opportunity to present his findings. Using the school’s anonymized social media usage data, he spent long nights piecing together a compelling data story.
When the assembly day arrived, Henry took a deep breath and walked onto the stage, armed with a colorful slide deck. “Did you know we collectively spend about 9000 hours a week on social media?” he started. Murmurs filled the auditorium as he showcased the first slide displaying the jaw-dropping number.
Maintaining a conversational and engaging tone throughout his presentation, Henry carefully steered clear of judgment or blame. His goal was not to make his peers feel bad about their social media use; it was to make them aware of their collective impact and potential for good.
To make his point relatable, he highlighted data on popular platforms amongst students. “Our TikTok dance challenges? That’s not just fun. We clocked 2,000 hours collectively last week. Imagine if we spent just a fraction of that time amplifying important social causes on this same platform.”
Henry also used soundbites that could stick, pairing them with engaging visuals. A bar graph showed the drastic rise in social media use over the past year with the soundbite, “We’re not just scrolling; we’re soaring!” This phrase later became a trending hashtag in the school’s social media conversations.
One of Henry’s best practices was repetition. He consistently tied back all his points to the central idea: “Our social media, our power!” This phrase echoed throughout his presentation, reinforcing the message he wanted his peers to take away.
His efforts to make the presentation accessible paid off as well. When discussing algorithms, a term that might have been foreign to some, he used simple language and likened the algorithm to a personal assistant that shows you more of what you like and interact with.
Henry’s presentation was a resounding success. His peers not only understood the data but were motivated to use their social media platforms in a more purposeful way. A stream of positive comments and posts followed his presentation, and his hashtag “#OurSocialMediaOurPower” trended across their social media platforms. His meticulously honed message had not only informed his peers but had ignited a change in their social media habits.