This is one of the hardest questions you may face as a speaker.
The answer lies in using facts, figures and numbers in the form of a story that supports your big idea.
Most people are not interested in tables, numbers and charts. More importantly, they may struggle to understand graphs. Therefore, how can you help walk the audience through the data through a more exciting method?
To help you answer this question, read the simple rules for presenting data below.
1) Tell a Story
For centuries, humans have told stories to convey valuable information to each other and future generations. Therefore, we are thrilled when information is presented in the form of a story as opposed to a highly technical presentation. Every workshop, seminar, and lecture is an opportunity to tell a story. When you present facts and figures, it is important to answer the questions below:
- What is the main message in this data?
- How can I communicate this message in the form of a story?
If we were all mathematicians, we may enjoy a presentation all about numbers. However, the majority of people are not. While charts and tables can be useful to some readers, a picture speaks a thousand words. When information is presented through visual graphs and pie charts, it becomes a pictorial representation. Therefore, trends and analytics appear more obvious and easier for your audience to follow.
2) Keep It Simple
When viewing a presentation, the attention of the audience can be easily lost. Most likely, this is because of an overcomplicated or highly technical presentation. Your presentation will be much more engaging when you choose to keep things simple and straightforward. As we speak, we try to include as many relevant data points as we possibly can. However, this can confuse people and draw their attention away from the big idea of your presentation. The attendees may ask themselves, “Does this information help clarify or solidify my argument?” A slide that is apt to be misunderstood or perplex the audience is worse than no slide at all. If it does not need to be there, do not add it.
3) Pick the Right Presentation Tool
With the advancement of technology and emerging methods for presentations, people have a lot of different options to get their message across to an audience. It is important to think about the most straightforward system or the best software to present information. Choose the software based on the type of charts or graphs you want to use. Depending on your audience, an infographic may work better than graphs and tables. There are a variety of software programs available, including PowerPoint and Prezi. For those of us who are not tech-savvy, you can always use a whiteboard and marker. However, take into consideration which tools will be most applicable to your audience.
4) Tell the Truth
When you present, it is fundamental that the information you convey to your audience is authentic and accurate. In addition, the graphs and tables need to be exact and easily legible. When the information you are presenting is not truthful or precise, an educated audience will be able to tell right away. When that happens, you are diminishing your power as a speaker. The audience will also pick up on whether you understand the material yourself. This will instantly compromise your credibility. Trust is the most important thing you want to establish with the audience, and it can be easily lost.
5) Project Voice, Maintain Eye Contact, and Slow Down
Many speakers are so consumed with the data and information they want to impart that they forget the power of projecting their voice, maintaining eye contact, and not speaking too quickly. Because these actions are usually subconscious, they are often neglected. A well projected voice conveys presence, passion and confidence when you speak. Meanwhile, consistent eye contact will help you connect with your audience and establish your credibility. Another important aspect to consider is the speed in which you deliver information. Speakers can be nervous and talk too fast. This increases the possibility that your audience will miss critical information. Slowing down allows you to suitably explain concepts and gather your thoughts before moving on.
Delivering an organized presentation that clearly makes sense of complex graphs, charts, facts and figures will help you stand out in the crowd. Focusing on nonverbal cues, keeping it simple, selecting the right presentation tools and conveying information that is authentic and accurate are important ways to communicate your information effectively. However, the best way to resonate with your audience is to represent your facts and figures with a story. When presented successfully, your data will speak for itself and bring life to the entire presentation.