Data Presentation Tips from a TEDx Speaker Coach, Ioana Jongsma

Episode 29: Data Presentation Tips from a TEDx Speaker Coach, Ioana Jongsma

Ioana shares so many amazing gems on how to present yourself and your data work to non-technical or mixed audience members.

You can also listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.

What You’ll Learn in this Episode

  • Challenge people have with communicating their work
  • Our hardwired need to sound important and how to overcome this when presenting to others.
  • “Start with dessert” philosophy of presenting your work
  • How to introduce yourself
  • Empathy mapping
  • Conveying emotion
  • How to use an AI tool, Yoodlii, to practice presentations and get feedback

Connect with Ioana Jongsma

You can connect with Ioana on Linked In and Instagram. You can also work with Ioana here to improve your data presentation skills.

Get in Touch with Hana

Let me know what you think of the episode, you can

message at or on Instagram @hanalytx.

If you are looking for podcast updates and want additional tips on how to visualize and present data sent straight to your inbox, then make sure to subscribe to my weekly data letters here.

When you hit that subscribe button, I’ll be sliding into your inbox every Wednesday with an email.

Love the show? Why not leave a review?

If you loved this episode of the Art of Communicating Data Podcast, why not leave a review on Apple Podcasts and Spotify?

It only takes 2 minutes and provides me with invaluable insight as to what the listeners think.

If you enjoyed this episode, check out this episode where best-selling author Cole Knaflic shares her tips for becoming an empowered presenter.

Episode Transcript

Generated automatically – there may be some errors.

[00:00:00] Hana: Today we’re joined by a guest, Ioana Jongsma. I actually connected with her when I first started my business and was growing on Instagram. You’re actually one of the first few people I met, and I’m glad we connected. And so it’s been almost like a, it’s been about two, three years, right?

[00:00:17] Ioana: I think two years now. Yeah.

[00:00:19] Hana: And we’ve worked together as well. So I’m really excited to have her on here today because she is an amazing, amazing coach. She’s a coach primarily for TEDx speakers. And from the work we’ve done together, I’ve learned so much from you, and I’m really confident that the listeners here today are gonna learn a lot from you.

[00:00:36] So thank you again for joining us.

[00:00:39] Ioana: Thank you for having me Hana, and thank you for that lovely introduction. Lovely to be here with you and with your listeners.

[00:00:47] Hana: Awesome. So as I mentioned, you are a coach for TEDx speakers. From what I understand, many of your clients do come from science backgrounds, and I was wondering how you got into this niche of specifically coaching TEDx speakers and ones that are from this background.

[00:01:05] Ioana: So one reason this happened is because in our TEDx event TEDx owns in Denmark, we actively look for those speakers who are doing extraordinary things in their field. , and by extraordinary, I mean extraordinarily nerdy. We just love people who love to nerd about whatever it is they’re doing. Go really deep and study and live and breathe that one thing.

[00:01:34] So there’ll often be researchers, startup founders, entrepreneurs sometimes so entrepreneurs like us who are really passionate about their idea and are making it happen. , A lot of times these will be people who are too busy doing what they’re doing to be professional speakers. So this is where our support comes in, in the curation and speaker coaching team, and that’s how it started.

[00:02:02] I got to learn what sets these speakers apart and I got to understand them better and better. So it grew from there with. The speakers in science and engineering backgrounds. Yeah.

[00:02:18] Hana: That’s great. I know a lot of our listeners, they are data professionals, , or. Aspiring data professionals. And similarly, they are focused on their work and they may not necessarily have the proper training for public speaking and presentations. So this actually becomes very important for them to learn the skill on the side, which is why we’re here today.

[00:02:38] What challenge have you noticed with your clients when it comes to communicating their work to audience members who may or may not be coming from that same background that they are?

[00:02:49] Ioana: Mm. So I see a twofold challenge. One aspect is a lack of connection or a distance, if you will, between speaker and audience. And the second aspect is a lack of a common language between them. So we might say these are two sides of the same coin, but I’ll start with connection because what I mean here, and I think a lot of speakers will recognize this, is this.

[00:03:16] There’s often this tension between speaker and audience that arises from a conflict of interest. Specifically, the speakers need to sound important and the audience’s need to be emotionally engaged. . And before we go any further, I wanna take a moment and acknowledge this need of sounding important because I think, you know, everybody who’s remotely interested in becoming a better speaker has heard this advice.

[00:03:49] It’s not about you, it’s about the audience. Make your language more simple. Slim down your structure, all of these things. But there is a reason why this need exists in all of us, and I think it’s more useful. To take a minute and acknowledge it and honor it in order to address it, because it’s not just a psychological need, it’s hardwired.

[00:04:15] In our biology, we are a social species, so that means way back when, when the first people evolved out of primates. Being important relative to our clan or our little band of individuals was essential to our survival. So to go against that after millions of years of evolution is really going against our nature.

[00:04:44] So it doesn’t mean we’re being a primadonna. It doesn’t mean that we are being selfish. It’s just one of our basic needs to be important for our community. So how do we try to satisfy this need? How do we want to be or sound important for others and. . A lot of times I see that speakers feel the need to explain or go very thoroughly through every aspect of their work, every step of how they got somewhere to show that they didn’t just randomly happen upon a conclusion.

[00:05:29] Hana: right?

[00:05:30] Ioana: So this is again, probably something that you’ll recognize and I know for sure that I’ve felt this too

[00:05:38] Hana: Mm-hmm. definitely.

[00:05:40] Ioana: it happens. I’ve noticed a lot of times when we are speaking to our peers, so scientists speaking to other scientists or in academia, people will feel a stronger need to. Make sure that they prop themselves up with lots of data, lots of facts lots of explanations.

[00:06:04] And what I noticed is that this happens when we feel that this relative importance or our status in a group could be under threat.

[00:06:18] Hana: Oh, interesting.

[00:06:20] Ioana: Obviously it can be a real threat sometimes, right? Like our job security. We prob there, there are situations when we need to. prove ourselves, right? But sometimes it can just be a perceived threat. Like we’re worried what others will think about us. Somebody’s opinion will not make us homeless, will not, you know, put us out of a job or anything like that.

[00:06:47] But it does feel like a threat to our nervous system. We don’t have the capacity. In our very, very complex brains to tell this difference between real life threats and social threats when it comes to these very subconscious processes. So our impulse will be the same to defend ourselves in this way. So one way to address this problem will be, of course, to practice.

[00:07:25] Slimming down our content, but that is the long way around. It goes from the outside in and it takes a long time and a lot of effort before it becomes second nature. So what I try and do is invite my speakers to go from the inside out, which means looking at where these need comes from, what might be some potential triggers for them, what might make them feel like their status or their importance in a specific group might be threatened.

[00:08:00] Let’s take a frequent example, the fear that our peers might feel were unprepared or unqualified to talk about a specific subject. So oftentimes this is a fear that doesn’t come from our present, but from our past, from a moment or a significant relationship where we. Inadequate, and that could have been a parent or a teacher who didn’t realize what was happening for us in that moment.

[00:08:31] And that feeling of inadequacy remained unresolved. So there was nobody there to tell us it’s okay to be imperfect. It’s okay to make a mistake. It’s okay to not have all the answers. And this becomes like a line of code in. Programming that decides how all the apps behave later on. So for many speakers leaving out specific details actually feels like it’s a little dangerous, like it puts them in a dangerous situation.

[00:09:09] Hana: right.

[00:09:11] Ioana: So it’s important to be aware of these psych subconscious needs, which are absolutely normal. They happen for everybody. We just have specific situations where we might be a bit more sensitive than other people. So there is of course the question what we should leave out. And here I have a very simple answer, everything.

[00:09:39] except for the very end. And this is part of my start with dessert philosophy,

[00:09:48] Hana: I love that philosophy,

[00:09:49] Ioana: Me too. It it comes from this idea that, you know, everybody who joins an astronomy class, when they’re young, if they ask, you know, what do you wanna be where you grow up? And they say, oh, I wanna be an astronaut. Nobody wants to take an astronomy one-on-one class.

[00:10:07] They wanna explore the stars, and it’s the same for the people who come to our presentations. They don’t want to know all the nitty gritty stuff. They just want to know what you found. You can of course, get them curious about how you got there, but that’s already part of a bigger strategy that we can put together for our.

[00:10:33] So that’s a simple way to address the structure problem and to get to the dessert quicker. Start with the conclusion, work your way back into how you got there, and then reinstate the main point in the closing of the presentation. And it’s a structure that doesn’t require any sort of narrative.

[00:10:58] Talent or special abilities is just something that’s simple and it works and it saves us the trouble of thinking, oh, but what am I gonna drop? Just drop everything. Except for the conclusion,

[00:11:12] Hana: It can sound kind of terrifying for people because usually the narrative flow when people are trying to communicate their work is very linear in following the same trajectory that they actually did in the logical ordering of the steps they took. And you know, as you mentioned, there’s this need to prove yourself and to show like, look, I, I’m actually doing my job.

[00:11:33] I’m very good at my job. And it’s a sense of perhaps job security comes through. So it can be kind of terrifying at first for people to think. throwing everything out, starting from the end, starting with the dessert. But, it’s a really great point that your audience members, that’s what they care about and that’s what will help them understand your work too.

[00:11:51] But in terms of establishing your credibility, do you recommend that as data practitioners who are presenting our work, establish our credibility in some way? And if so, how We can do

[00:12:04] that?

[00:12:04] Ioana: there are two ways to do it that are the easiest. One is to outsource this to the or the mc so that you don’t have to list your own achievements. It’s a really elegant way around it. I really love because I hate you know, talking about my own portfolio. So I love it when a meeting host can do that for me.

[00:12:31] And another way around it is to show how, how much of an expert we are by actually showing how well we know the audience in. So this is where this idea comes in, that we should be focused on them, not on ourselves. Because when we bring all. Wealth of data and high level of granularity of detail about how we came to a conclusion.

[00:13:04] The focus is on us, but by focusing on the audience, we can show that we know what we’re talking about because we understand them, we understand their problem, and we can help them. And here’s. So this much more connected way of building credibility around the expertise, not just in relation to our work, but in relation to who’s there in the room listening to us.

[00:13:35] Hana: Awesome. And so the, the ways that you recommend was to have someone else introduce yourself and so if there. I’ve seen sometimes people are too humble to give a proper bio to the person or the mc that’s introducing them. Is there a particular format that you recommend or a particular way of communicating all your credentials and credibility in a succinct way for them to

[00:14:02] introduce you?

[00:14:03] Ioana: obviously it will make a difference to whom we’re speaking because if we’re, for example, talking to. , other scientists, then maybe different points will be relevant from our portfolio compared to pitching an analysis to a group of business people. So look at who your audience is, what they might be curious about, what kind of language they understand, and we’ll get to that in a minute as well.

[00:14:35] But, Keep it simple. And for example, for me it was a great exercise to do this every couple of years to see what is really relevant for. my career so far. And what are the highlights? Because maybe nobody cares, you know, how many different companies I’ve taught courses in, but how long I’ve done it interesting.

[00:15:02] Maybe nobody cares. I dunno how many certifications I have, but one of them might be of particular interest. So this is a good opportunity to. See is relevant every couple of years. So yeah, I’d recommend they have a look at their CV through the audience’s eyes.

[00:15:24] Hana: I love how for many of the answers that you’ve given, a lot of it is dependent on thinking about what is relevant to your audience. So you could be giving the same kind of presentation to different folks and that might actually change not only your presentation, but also the qualifications that you choose to tell your audience members about.

[00:15:42] So in terms of presenting our work before we were talking about credibility, you did talk about what we should not do. How should we be talking about data? How do you recommend that we talk about data?

[00:15:54] Ioana: right. So where we get to the second challenge that we talked about early in our conversation, which is that common language and a tool that I use with my speakers is Where we follow a series of prompts that invite us to put ourselves in the audience’s shoes, quite literally.

[00:16:17] So we’ve all heard that this is a good idea and with help of an empathy map, . We can actually see how concretely. So this is it can be as simple as listing what our audience might be thinking, doing, feeling around the topic of discussion. and a more complex empathy map will kind of branch look at what sensory input the audience is getting.

[00:16:47] What are their motivations? What are their challenges? What might be their professional profile? So a, a quick Google search will give a lot of results of more complex empathy maps with nice everything. So I encourage everybody to go ahead and give it a try. And I, I really love how concrete it makes the experience of another person, and I love that it concrete life experience and concrete language that we can then use in our own to refer.

[00:17:26] To our topic, but in a way that the audience can relate to. For example, in my workshops, I talk about the sequence, let’s say in public speaking, if I’m talking to a group of IT people, I will refer to programming and code. and if I’m talking to a group of engineers, I’ll refer systems and synergies.

[00:17:51] And if I’m talking to a group of artists, I’ll refer to harmonies and composition. So it’s all the same content, but rephrased in a way that is familiar to the audience I have in that. And of course there are specific terms and concepts that I will want them to get, but I only do that after a common understanding has been established.

[00:18:20] So empathy map tool. Go ahead and give it a try.

[00:18:24] Hana: This is the first time I’m hearing about empathy mapping, so we’ll definitely look that up and I’ll try to link a resource that I find for the listeners and the show notes for those who are interested in learning more about what mapping is. So once people do this empathy mapping exercise and they have a clear understanding of who their audience is, they find the common ground and the common language, and you know what their audience is interested in, what do you recommend that they do next?

[00:18:50] Ioana: So this is when we’re finally at the planning stage where we can look at the structure of our presentation. So we’ve talked about my start formula. This is what I would do with people who don’t have a great amount of experience. And I’ll take a page out of your book as well, Hannah, and say that nobody will ever mind if you finish early.

[00:19:17] So definitely plan for less than the amount of time allotted. With keynotes, for example, my rule of thumb is to plan for about 80, 85% of the time. With workshops, our plan for 70, maybe even 60%, to allow for that extra space discussion, debate pair work. And there’s always something that happens that bit of extra time.

[00:19:44] You know, people then unmuting walking up to the or podium. Maybe you drop your notes. Maybe somebody has an unexpected question. Stuff happens. So just that and yeah, as I said, nobody will mind if you go to lunch early, and the final that I look at in my work with speakers is the delivery.

[00:20:09] And here it might sound strange to talk about emotion when we are looking at data presentations, but without emotional connection, there is no common language and there is no connection with the audience. . An attention, for example, is anchored with the help of emotions, as well. We’ve probably all quote.

[00:20:38] ,they may forget what you said. They may forget what you did, but they’ll never forget how them feel. Motivation is anchored in emotion. We know that Daniel Canman, for example, got the Nobel Prize for proving that all of our decisions are mostly emotional and then, , our reason comes later to justify why we’ve taken a certain decision.

[00:21:04] So for data professionals, I think this is absolutely essential because we want to believe that we are rational beings and we take decisions based on information and analyses, but we actually don’t. And it’s okay, but we just have to be aware about it. Aware of it, sorry. Emotion is an essential part, and it doesn’t mean that we have to, you know, hold each other and become blood brothers.

[00:21:35] It just means we need to be clear what we want the audience to feel. , and that could be curiosity, enthusiasm, it can be frustration around something, right? We want that energy that to action when something is wrong needs to be fixed. So I’m not just looking at, you know, warm and fuzzy emotions, but we need to know what that is.

[00:22:02] So what I practice with my speakers is identifying. the emotion that they want to convey. And for some of us that may be very easy, and for others it may be a bit harder to connect to our internal perception of these emotions. So what I do is I ask them to record the. It can be just a one minute video where they have this intention of communicating a specific emotion and then we play it and we see if they recognize the emotion they had in mind, and then we play with the intensity of it to see how we can make it stronger.

[00:22:49] Or if it’s not there at all or if something else is there. This is obvious very often if you play that recording on. Because you don’t hear the words, but you see the body language and the facial expressions. So then you can work on a specific for example record again, see if that’s better.

[00:23:14] And again, and again, until you don’t need the words to understand what the emotion is. Just like we said in the beginning, emotions are not just part of our psychology, but they’re part of how our body works. They are the signals that our body us. To translate how we see the world. If the world is a safe or dangerous place, our body will be the first to know it.

[00:23:43] That’s where gut feelings come in, right? So it’s really important to incorporate that our speaking repertoire because we are there with our whole being. Even in this virtual world, we still experience things in. Minds, but also in our bodies. So it’s good to the two together again. I feel that we’ve been very divorced from our bodies, especially during the pandemic year, so it’s part of my mission to make people whole again, on stage.

[00:24:18] Hana: That’s awesome. I love how you say it, like, make people whole again. I can understand that feeling as a data practitioner that what motivates me and what I look in my work is very rational, very numbers focused in justifying certain decisions or recommendations. But when it comes to.

[00:24:37] Motivating our audience to do that. We do need that emotional component. This exercise of figuring out y the emotions that you wanna convey, do you recommend people do that before they prepare the content of the presentation or after they have the content,

[00:24:50] but before they actually deliver?

[00:24:52] Ioana: I would the good moment, a good moment is when they have the content. But that’s for really specific sections in the speech or the presentation. ,

[00:25:02] Hana: Hmm.

[00:25:03] Ioana: they incorporate it in the early stages, the strategy phase where they say, okay, what do I want my to feel? Do I want them to be excited about something?

[00:25:14] Do I want them to be curious? That is a good question to ask very early on, but always after the empathy mapping or whatever. audience profiling they choose to example. A. Consideration for the general direction of their talk. And then when they start to practice their delivery, they can perhaps specific sections in the presentation, like the introduction or an argument or the personal story or the conclusion, is they’re looking at.

[00:25:50] Because it’s important to have. A dynamic in emotion. Otherwise everything will feel the same. And we won’t be able to tell what is salient in this presentation. Just like if our voice is very even, we can, you know, put the audience to sleep. So it’s good to identify maybe a couple of emotions in specific sections dynamic In intensity or of emotions no need to make it too complicated.

[00:26:23] Two or three are more than enough, and it’s the most important is to have clear intentions about it.

[00:26:32] Hana: Got it. Thank you for clarifying that. When it comes to the delivery of the presentation and even just practicing like you mentioned about recording yourself and watching yourself first without audio, and then later on with audio, are there any tools that you recommend for those who are looking for ways to improve the actual delivery or practice the delivery of their present?

[00:26:54] Ioana: So obviously I just used people’s mobile phones, , because that was the, the tool that was most handy. But year I discovered really interesting tool. It’s called Yuli. and what it is basically is an AI communications coach. So you can use it by yourself or you can share the recordings you upload, and when you share it, you to comment on your videos.

[00:27:25] And the nice thing is the comments get timestamped so you can see exactly what the. Person is referring to, and that can be a colleague or maybe a coach that you’re working with. So that’s a, a really nice way to go about it. But even using it on your own, the tool gives you some stats about how fast you’re speaking, whether you’re pausing, whether you’re eye contact if you have a lot of repetition in your language or words that are not inclusive.

[00:27:56] So all sorts of ai. Based metrics that it can just do on its own. I have only works for English. Develop this feature for other languages, but at the moment it’s only working for English presentations.

[00:28:14] Hana: When you were telling me about this tool, I looked into it and I can attest to it. It seems very useful. I think it’s gonna be very helpful even if you do it by yourself, as you mentioned.

[00:28:21] Ioana: What’s most important is to have this kind of feedback that you cannot get without watching yourself and practicing in front of a mirror is not the same because you. do it in real time. You are not able to see all the small things you are, it’s, it’s just not the same experience. Whereas when you’re watching yourself, you can really take that distance and see yourself outside.

[00:28:49] The mirror is an, a good tool, but it has its limitations, so definitely try recording.

[00:28:58] Hana: And I know for those who are not used to hearing themselves or seeing themselves being played, it can be kind of unnerving to see that at first. But I promise you, for those who are listening that are nervous about trying this technique out that as. You get more and more comfortable watching yourself and hearing yourself, that a weird feeling you get of seeing yourself on camera will go away and it will tremendously help you with your delivery if you can get that feedback.

[00:29:25] And even better if you can have a colleague or your manager take a look at that video recording and comment as you said, like, Timestamped comments on Y, you know, the actual video. It’s very helpful. So thank you for telling us about this tool. I will include the link to this tool in the show notes for those who do want to not only work with tools like this AI one, but they actually wanna work with a coach like you.

[00:29:49] How can they

[00:29:50] work with you?

[00:29:51] Ioana: So people can find me online, on my website and socials by the name Speaker Coaching Diaries. I started it out as an open diary of my work. So they’ll see little backstage stories from my work with And yeah, I’m happy to answer any questions anyone might have after our episode. I’m happy to be in touch on LinkedIn. I’m also happy to connect everybody. They’ll find me after. The page name, speaker Coaching diaries, but also on my private sma. Everybody’s welcome to send me an invite.

[00:30:28] Hana: Awesome, and I think you have a few spots open for your coaching services.

[00:30:31] Ioana: There’s one spot actually open from depending on long this takes, it can be anywhere between. three to four weeks to a year depending on the, the level of complexity of work people want to do. But they can see the options on speaker coaching There a one-to-one speaker coaching section where they can see all the options.

[00:30:56] And I do work with you, Lisa, so they can also see incorporate that in my work. Allowed me a lot more practice than just face-to-face meetings.

[00:31:04] Hana: So I will put Ioana’s handles in the show notes so you can connect with her and also if you’re interested in working with her link, how you can get in touch with her and. Do coaching with her as well. Thank you so much, Ioana, for joining us today and sharing all this insightful information.

[00:31:18] Some of these things have come up in previous episodes, but I really like how you actually went into depth and talking about how our body works and how our minds work, that really gave us more insight into why we recommend the things we recommend when it comes to presenting these technical work to non-technical or mixed audience members.

[00:31:37] So thank you for doing that. It was really fun having this

[00:31:40] Ioana: interview.

[00:31:40] Likewise.