Episode 26: 5 Mistakes People Make when Presenting Data
I share 5 mistakes I see people make with data presentations and what you can do to avoid making them as well.
What You’ll Learn in this Episode
In this week’s podcast episode I talk about 5 mistakes I see data practitioners make when presenting data and what we should be doing instead.
👇🏽 Are you making any of these 5 mistakes? 🧐
- Winging your presentation/not preparing for it
- Opening the slide deck software first when preparing
- Not identifying and considering your target audience
- Creating a slide deck that serves more like a document
- Copying and pasting your data visualizations into your slide deck without making adjustments for the presentation.
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If you enjoyed this episode, check out this episode where you learn how to conquer your anxieties with presentations.
Hana: [00:00:00] In today’s episode, we’ll be talking about five mistakes I see people make with their data presentations. The first one is winging the presentation or not preparing for it. I don’t recommend waiting until the last minute to prepare for any presentation. There may be very few cases. Very few instances, like low stakes, one where it’s kind of like an update only at a casual meeting with your team members where maybe it’s okay to not prepare or waiting to prepare until the last minute for the presentation.
but generally speaking, even if you are a very seasoned presenter and orator you, there’s still some stuff that you need to prepare to make sure that you’re not only great in delivering your presentation, but also that the content is relevant for your audience members and for your specific audience members, that it’s something that they are able to take action.
especially when it comes to the data field, you wanna make sure [00:01:00] that you’re giving recommendations and clear action items for your audience members. and we’ll talk more about this later in the episode.
The second mistake is jumping straight into the slide deck software. It doesn’t matter if it’s PowerPoint, keynote, Google Drive, or whatever other software that you use. Starting your preparation for the presentation by first opening up your slide deck software is actually a mistake and I’ll explain why I have actually been guilty of doing this when I didn’t know any better in my early career.
Basically what would happen is the first thing I would do when preparing for a presentation would be to open up the side deck software and then spend the next 20 to 30 minutes picking out a really nice design. After that time is up, my brain is pretty exhausted from making design decisions to properly focus on the content itself.
Now, I don’t think everyone spends this much time, and the first thing that they do is pick at a design. That may not be what you do, but I still don’t think it’s a [00:02:00] great idea to start with your slide deck software because it is very limiting.
You don’t know the content of your presentation yet, and your slide deck is a visual aid. It’s not going to be where you have all the content of your presentation on there. It shouldn’t be because it will be really overwhelming for your audience members. You are the one who’s presenting the content, and your slide deck is there to.
Aid you not be, not be the entire content for you. So I recommend starting with pen and paper first, or post-its if you prefer.
Mistake number three is not considering your target audience or not even knowing who they are.
Making this mistake is a sure fire way to make your audience bored and disengaged during the actual presentation because. When you’ve been preparing for this presentation and you don’t know who your target audience is, you don’t know what message is relevant for them, what points are relevant for them.
So it’s important that you identify first, who your target audience is, and then [00:03:00] keep them in mind when you’re preparing the content of your presentation. Mistake number four is creating a slide deck that serves more like a document, a k, a, the slideument .Unfortunately, it has become a common practice in the industry to treat the slide deck as a document.
This encourages presenters to add a lot of text to the presentation in anticipation of the slide deck being passed around before, after the presentation to people who attended, and maybe also to folks who couldn’t. , but I want you to ask yourself then, what is your purpose as a presenter? Because at this point, you’ve just become the document reader, not a presenter.
And if your slide deck can stand on its own, there’s really no need for you to be presenting then, so I actually recommend that instead of treating the slide deck as a document, if you do expect people to send. Something, a handout or document before or after the presentation to [00:04:00] make that as a document itself separate from the slide deck.
So you’ll have your slide deck that doesn’t have as much text and is not overwhelmed with a lot of information, and instead you have the separate document that you’re working on where it does have perhaps your full content or it has supplementary information that serves like a handout for people who attended and also didn’t attend your presentation.
Mistake number five is copy and pasting your data visualizations into your slide deck without making adjustments for the presentation. Sometimes this is fine to do it depending on how you designed your original data visualizations, but usually you should be optimizing and making some adjustment to your data viz for presentation mode.
And if you’re presenting a dashboard, I don’t recommend showing more than one or two charts in a single slide because you’re gonna, you’re gonna lose your audience member’s attention, so you do.
Need to make some adjustments and I cover this more in depth in my course present data [00:05:00] with confidence. And as I mentioned before the start of this episode, I did create a roadmap to help you prepare for your next data presentation. You can download it for free on my website trending analytics.com. That’s trending hyphen analytics.com/roadmap, and it’ll be in your inbox in just a few seconds.