Episode 15: Conquering Anxiety with Data Presentations – Interview with Susan Gatura

Gain Influence by Improving your Data Communication Skills

Do you get anxious presenting your work? If so, you don’t want to miss this interview with Susan Gatura, a senior data analyst working in the media and entertainment industry. Suzie shares her experience with conquering presentation anxiety while also being an introvert.

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

What You’ll Learn in this episode

  • How Suzie overcame her struggles with presentation anxiety
  • Opportunities listeners can take advantage of to practice their data communication skills
  • Tips on becoming an effective data communicator

Additional Resources

Suzie recommends joining Toastmasters, like she did, to practice become a confident communicator. You can find more info here: https://www.toastmasters.org/

You can find Suzie on Instagram at @suzie_gatura

Get in Touch with Hana

Let me know what you think of the episode, you can message at hana@trending-analytics.com 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.

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If you enjoyed this episode, check out this episode where you can further learn how to confidently communicate your work.

Episode Transcript

Today, we are joined by Suzie on the podcast, and I will hand it over to Susie actually to introduce yourself in your own words.

Hi everyone. My is Suzie Gatura I'm a senior data analyst in the media and entertainment industry based in Kenya. My job is to make sense of raw data and come up with actionable insights that can help in decision making. Moreover, I'm a mom of two beautiful girls, which to be honest is another job on its own, but I love it.

And I love reading and, you know, spending time with my friends and family.

 Thank you for joining us.  I think this is the first time I actually have someone on the podcast from your particular industry. So I'm really excited to have you on and get your perspective on things. And I remember. Were talking when we met, you mentioned about having to present and communicate your work a lot.

Could you tell us about a time you felt nervous or anxious about presenting or communicating your work?

So honestly, I get anxious every time that I'm told I have to present my work, but I do remember just recently. My manager told me that I'll be presenting to the department dashboard that I just deployed. And the chief information and insights officer will be part of that meeting. So before she mentioned that the CIO would be part of that meeting in my mind, I would've.

Started I started drafting a sort of roadmap of how I'll structure my presentation, but when she threw the couple by mentioning the CIO's presence, that's when the knobs kicked in, I started overthinking the presentation instead of spending my time preparing for it in a different scenario. If I was presenting to my teammates or people I generally interact with on a daily basis, I bet the anxiety not have crippled me the way it did when I was told an executive or be present.

And. That's why I wanted probably you would enlighten me on why that happens. I understand that there's that pressure to impress and get their attention. But for someone like me, who's currently working on managing the stress that comes with putting myself out there. I felt that it did more harm than good.

That's really understandable. I actually also still get nervous when I present to certain types of audience members and I think it might be because. We'd realize there might be a lot more at stake versus if we're just presenting to colleagues or even our boss, you know, we get comfortable like talking and communicating to our bosses on a regular basis.

But when it comes to upper management executives or another organization coming in, then I find. Pretty natural, normal to get anxious and, and nervous. It's interesting though, that you mentioned that  if you hadn't been told  who you were presenting to, you already had a plan, you already knew what you were gonna do.

You would've been less anxious, right?  At the same time though,  I was wondering like, would it have been better if  someone in your situation, like if I was in your situation, if someone hadn't told me, if my boss hadn't told me who I'm presenting to, if I could have done a better job, but then I thought about our message does somewhat change depending on who we present to.

So it's like, well, we have to know who it is. And even if it means we might be a little bit anxious or nervous

Yeah, exactly.

Thank you for being honest with us about this. And that sounds like an amazing opportunity, first of all. And congrats that you were chosen to present is a Testament of how you're valued at your work and how your boss sees you.

So that's a really amazing opportunity that you were given. So congrats.


What was the biggest challenge you've had to overcome when communicating your work and how did you overcome.

Yeah. You know, just like how you mentioned about how it's important to know who you're presenting to. So for me being my, my biggest challenge was tweaking my presentation to fit the audience before I would give the same presentation for all audiences, until I came across an article that gave the core principles of data visualization and knowing your audiences at the.

as the most important, what I needed to understand is when I communicate my purpose is not what I want to do. Instead. It is what I want my audience to do as a result of listening to what I said. So I started becoming more intentional on my presentations by first doing my research on who. My audience will be, as I re, as I realized, it helped me to make decisions about what information I should include and how I should arrange that information.

And what kind of supporting details will be necessary for the audience to understand what I'm presenting. So I'm still working on perfecting the craft that his data is storytelling.  and some of your courses have been really helpful in this journey. I'm particularly fond of the present data confidence course not forgetting your podcast, which I love to listen to when I'm working out every morning.

So I'm so happy I came across your page. It was like the best timing. I remember DME knew on Instagram and you've been so kind to always respond and help me out. And I'm really grateful for.

Well, thank you. I'm so glad that the courses have been helpful for you and I'm especially impressed whenever any data professional actually realizes that they want to hone their communication and presentation skills, because it's one that I feel like when I was, especially when I was starting out.

As a new data professional, I focused specifically on very technical skills and there's always a new tech or tool coming out. So it was really my early years as a data analyst, I was obsessed with collecting those. And you know, now having worked in the data field for about eight years now, I noticed that myself and my other data, professional colleagues.

We haven't honed our presentation and communication, our so called soft skills as much, which is actually really important if you want to continue growing in your career. And, you know, as you mentioned, like you will get opportunities to present to, you know, your team, your bosses, or Other folks where there are high stakes.

And so being able to present your work confidently is gonna be important. 

 I remember we were DMing each other before you took the course, and you mentioned about being an introvert and also like how that affects your ability to present and communicate your.

are you comfortable talking a little bit more about that and sharing how that part of you has either hindered or helped you with

Yeah, sure. We can talk about it.

Promo Audio Clip

I feel like I tend, I really don't like. Any attention coming my way and presentation is just that everyone is there. They're looking at you, they're listening to you. And I just, I really don't like that. And I remember even in school or let's say in university, I always used to avoid. Doing my presentations.

Like if I, if I have this course that I'm doing, they're this subject and the final grade, there's a presentation in between that will determine my final grade. So what I used to do is I will try and ACE all the cuts. Then I will avoid the presentation and also the final exam. I'll make sure I AE it so that.

The presentation that I didn't do, doesn't really affect my grade. That's how I have cruised through school. That's how I have cruised through the first jobs that I had until now, recently, when I decided like, when it comes to my career goals, I want more, I want a leadership role and I cannot avoid communication and just decided to get out of my comfort zone and.

Do what I have to do. So I recently also joined toast masters to help me with that. Yeah. And I'm actually supposed to give my second speech next week.  which I'm also so nervous about

And also, you know, I, it came across your page and you're an introvert who likes public speaking.

You're actually the first introvert that I've met, who likes public speaking. that's so different, but I like it.

I'm so glad. Yeah. I'm told that. And you know, my first experience though, as an introvert was similar to yours where I really didn't enjoy the attention. I know what you mean. Like, you feel like you're in the spotlight and I'm the kind of person who likes to blend into the background.

I don't like. Attention towards me. So being, having to present in front of people was always very nerve-wracking for me. And similar to you, like how you're joining Toastmasters to improve this skill. Especially as an introvert, when I identify this weakness. I was in high school at that time. And I joined the theater club, mock trial, a speech and debate  I really overwhelm myself with trying to overcome this fear that I had, but now I enjoy it.

I, but at the same time, it's not that I don't get nervous or anxious before presentations, cuz that still happens depending on the type of presentation. So it's something that I've come to accept, but I've learned these tools, these ways to actually cope with it. Reduce my anxiety and nerves, and be able to channel it in a way that at least comes off and appears like a very confident delivery of my message.

It's still doesn't come as easy as I imagine other people who are natural and gifted public speakers but it's, it's just something I realize I don't wanna change myself or make myself feel bad for being an introvert.

Instead, I found a way to be good at it without compromising my identity.

exactly. Yeah. I agree with that. I also don't want to change myself, but I also don't want to use my introvertedness as an excuse to not go for it, you know? Yeah. It can still be an introvert, but I can be also an efficient communicator when the needs arises.

That's a good point. And for those who are listening, if you can identify with us, I recommend doing what Susie did and join a Toastmasters club that is in your area. It's a very popular club and. It will help your practice and get comfortable with public speaking. So I highly recommend trying that out.

If that's something you wanna hone as well. What is the best thing that has happened to you since you started to work on improving your data communication skills and what did it feel like when that happened?

The best thing is getting more opportunities to present my work, like from the first time that I did that my manager comes up and always tells me, do you want to present this again? Or do you want to present the. Project that you're doing it. And I've come to realize that the more I do it, the more confident I become, I'm not where I'd like to be, but I'm definitely not where I used to be.

Promo Audio Clip

And at the end of the day, no one can showcase your work better than you can. And it's an amazing feeling. Seeing your work being used in decision making. I always set these non-technical skills, like communication, ensure that all the hard work and technical knowledge that goes into extracting insights from a data set, actually result in action and the opportunities that are coming my way from that are really helping me build my confidence.

And that's something I'm really grateful for and also motivates me to keep doing it.

I'm really happy that you're getting these opportunities and your team and your boss has realized how good you're at it. And they wanna continue presenting you with these opportunities. You also brought up a really good point. As you present more, you get better at it. 

And also this is an assumption I had early on. I thought my job is to do my work, analyze the data, and people will be able to understand and read between the lines and understand the implications of my work, or be able to understand the.

The intuitive next step on what to do. And we sometimes forget that we also need to be able to communicate and present our work in order for people to even understand what we have done. It's not that people will realize that you're doing important stuff all the time. You can't just be sitting in your cubicle or your office.

And people will assume that, you know, you're doing great work. You, you also have to put in the work to communicate and be able to effectively do that. That's a really good point. You brought up, what's the biggest piece of advice you would give to other data professionals like you?

Uh, alright. Gosh, I have so many, can I say like three

Yeah. Go for it.

Okay. Like the first one is I tell them is communication is key in data. Like do it well, and you will succeed in your career. Like be more clear, more easily, understood, more creative, and you'll be head and shoulder above everyone you're competing with.

Also your audience should drive what you say and how you say it. So get to know your audience. Talk to them and your targeted communication to them will be more successful. The last one is human beings are programmed to respond to stories, stories, help us to pay attention. And also to remember things, if you can use stories in your presentation, your audience is more likely to engage and to remember your points after.

And it is a good idea to start with a story, but there's a wider point too. You need your presentation to act like a story. Think about what story you're telling to your audience and create your presentation to tell it. Also remember the nows will always be there, but when you practice, you get more confident.

It's not about getting rid of the butterflies. It's about teaching them to fly information. That is my favorite line, by the way.

I love that line. That's amazing.

Thank you.

Well, thank you so much for sharing all this advice.  I think I'm gonna have to put this line that you just said, like all over the promotion for this podcast, because that, that is an excellent imagery and everyone can relate to having butterflies in their stomach, but using that to fly for. Thank you so much, Susie, for all this valuable insights into your experience and journey as a data analyst and honing this, these skills as well as sharing all this advice for other folks who are listening in, because I know that many listeners can relate to what you went through and also benefit from the advice you've shared with us today.

So thank you so much again, Suzie for coming on the podcast today, where can people connect with.

So I currently just tweaked my Instagram page recently, cuz I want to talk more about analytics and create more awareness so people can connect with me there as I also try to figure out what I'm going to put out. 

 Awesome. So it's S U Z I E underscore G a T U R a. I will also be putting in the handles in the show notes that you can find the link to her Instagram profile directly.

I highly recommend connecting with her. I follow her on Instagram and I'm really excited for the content that you're gonna be putting out.