Episode 5: Why you Should Visualize your Data

Why you Should Visualize your Data

Intro to Data Visualization

In this episode, I provide an overview of data visualization as an effective form of communicating data. We also talk about exploratory vs explanatory visualizations and when providing visualizations can help your audience vs showing them all the data.

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

What You’ll Learn in this episode

  • What data visualization is
  • Difference between exploratory and explanatory data visualizations
  • How data visualization can help communicate insights to your audience

Action Items

  • Experiment with different charts the next time you are exploring a new data set
  • Download the Blueprint to Effective Data Visualizations so you can use this workbook before you create explanatory visualizations for your audience

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 my previous episode about getting to know your audience.

Episode Transcript

One of the ways you can communicate with data is through visualizing data. In today's episode, we'll be talking about what that means and why you should be visualizing data for yourself and for others. 

First, if you're new to this term, data visualization is the process of converting data into a meaningful visual representation in the form of a graph. The reason you would do that is so you can make it easier to extract meaning from data quickly and easily for your target audience. It also allows you to find and show patterns, trends, outliers, or other interesting things about the data that may not have been easily revealed if you hadn't visualized them.

So visualizing data can not only benefit your audience, but also you, so you can have exploratory data visualizations, which are used to help you explore the data as well as explanatory data visualizations, which usually come after the data has been explored. And the purpose is usually to communicate outcomes and insights from the data.

You usually want your audience to do something with what you're communicating. For instance, maybe you want them to approve a proposal, follow your recommendations, or want them to adopt your model.

Data visualizations can help with that. Now? You may be wondering when I should use a data visualizations of is versus providing a table or a. Use data visualizations when you need to simplify and visualize complex data in order to highlight important or relevant parts, this includes patterns, trends, correlations, outliers, and so on, depending on what your goal is and what message you want to convey.

Your goal with communicating data is to do so in a way, your audience will be able to understand as efficiently and quickly as possible. So you basically want, you don't want them to have to stare at your data visualizations for too long, for them to be able to comprehend the main takeaway or message that you are trying to convey.

You want to make it as easy for them as possible to get that message. But what if you just verbally communicate the message you want to share? You know, why not just say it and leave it at that? We call him the episode about the different types of communication. We talked about how  communication should not only be understandable, but also retainable or memorable.

For instance, you could write a statement that communicates that productivity went up by 40% for a company, during the pandemic. This is a made up stat for this example. If you can accompany that statement with a chart showing this big jump, it will help you visually imprint that picture, that big jump in your audience's mind.

Sure. Data visualizations is not the only form of communication that you can use to make this message memorable, but it's a powerful one and you shouldn't hesitate to use it.

It's worth keeping in mind that a data visualization is usually not showing all of the data. And that's fine because that's usually not the point. You usually don't want to overwhelm your audience with a lot of information or noise that is not relevant to them. Maybe you want to only focus on relationships between two interesting variables.

So you only show a charter to demonstrate that. What you end up visualizing and showing to your target audience will depend on what message you're trying to convey to them. And also what's relevant for them. We talked more about this, on how to get to know your target audience. So check that out if you haven't already. So does that mean you never have to show tables or all your data ever? Not necessarily. Sometimes your audience may be interested in seeing the data. Even after you have provided them with effective data visits, this could be for a variety of reasons.

They may want to deep dive or maybe reproduce the results or test out other hypotheses. They may have. Think of your charts as showing specific angles or sides of your data. And maybe they're curious about seeing the data from another angle or side, so it's fine to link or attach the original data with your Data visualizations.

If you think your audience would want to do some extra exploring on their own.

 Hopefully by this point, I've convinced you why you should include some well-designed Data visualizations in your next report, meaning or presentation. In order for this to work, you need to design your visualizations effectively. I have a blueprint for effective data visualizations that you can download. It's a free workbook with prompts to make insightful and actionable visualizations for your audience.

You can download it from my website, trending analytics.com/free. That's trending hyphen analytics.com/free. I'll also link this in my show. And in the coming weeks, I want you to try creating more exploratory data visualizations. When you are working with a new dataset, try to make as many visits as you can, to explore different angles and sides of the data.

No one is going to see these visits except for you, unless you want to share this with your team or managers. So feel free to make as many as you want, then make a note of how different visualizations help you see different patterns or trends in the data. Next, use a workbook. I mentioned that on my website, the blueprint to effective data visualizations to create explanatory data visits that you can share with an audit.

I strongly recommend using this workbook before you start designing your data visualizations. So make sure you download that now again, you can download it from my website trending-analytics.com/free.  I'll also link it in my show notes.