Let’s say you have an audience interested in building a side income in addition to their full-time job. In this example, you could say, “40% of adults want to make $25,000 per year in a side business.”
That’s not much to go on, but it could be interesting. Let’s provide more context to make it relatable. Rather than that general statement, you could say, “To make an additional $25,000 per year, you would need to earn $100 per day. That doesn’t even need to be for the full year. That’s $100 per day for 250 working days.”
You can work with that second statement. It provides more detail and much more context. Someone interested in building a side income can begin to see how it’s possible. It’s not some mystery, but now more of an opportunity. Data becomes actionable.
3. Visualization can be your friend
Randall Bolten tells us in Painting with Numbers that tools like Microsoft Excel provide a treasure trove of visual effects. But are they worth it? Do data visualizations actually help your audience or hinder them?
We’ve all experienced that “death by PowerPoint” meeting. Whether in person or online, it’s that slow, mind-numbing slog through chart after chart, slide after slide. Please don’t do that to your audience.
The visuals in your presentations — whether charts, graphs or other tools — should add to your audience’s understanding by providing complementary information or another way to view what you’re communicating.
This isn’t a new idea. “Edward Tufte is a great resource for informational design and data visualization,” says Joseph Aranyosi, associate dean of the College of Business and Information Technology at University of Phoenix. “He encourages the use of ‘data-rich illustrations’ to more clearly present data.”
Here are a few ways you can enhance the effectiveness of your visuals:
- Make sure to include labels that are clear and concise. They need to make sense in relation to each other.
- Highlight information your audience will want to know. Use different colors and fonts — or underline key points — where needed. Bold and italics can help here too, but use them sparingly.
- Investigate popular tools like Tableau, Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel to enhance your data storytelling abilities.
4. Connect with their emotions
One of the best ways to engage and persuade your audience is through emotion. It’s part of the reason stories resonate so much. Proper data-driven storytelling can help you craft compelling narratives.
How can you utilize emotion in your storytelling? First, start with your audience. We identified who they were earlier. Here are a few more things to clarify about them:
- What do they believe in? How do they see the world? What truths do they hold?
- What are their emotional triggers? What affects them on a deep level?
- What inspires or motivates them to action? What drives them?
The emotion is where you’re going to convince your audience. Do you have a motivational story for executives about the impact of their decisions on profits or company culture? Craft your narrative around that — and drive it home.
Are you pitching a potential partner on the benefits of working together? Understand their “why” for being in business. For instance, maybe it’s to help people maintain a work–life balance. Build the stories of how your company subscribes to the mantra of work that allows you to live and care for your family.