“Decrapifying” Data Presentation

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I really enjoyed today’s blog post from the famous Googler and entrepreneur Avinash Kaushik on tips for data presentation, particularly the importance of moving discussion quickly off data and onto insights and actions.

But if the occasion is a strategic discussion, any occasion about taking action on data, then you need to get off data as fast as you can.

No skill is more in demand than the ability to communicate the “so what?” when it comes to any occupation that deals with data. Just go to a job search website and search through job postings using words like “research” or “data” or “analyst.” You’ll see the ability to uncover strategic insight and recommendations from data as a requirement in virtually every single job posting.

(I was hoping that Avinash would talk about the challenge of moving the discussion off data and onto insights when an executive/stakeholder/audience member is hung up on challenging your data, either because your data doesn’t fit with his ‘years of experience’ i.e. his gut-intuition, because your data doesn’t fit with some report he read some time ago from somewhere that he can’t remember, etc.)

Avinash Kaushik also showed 8 examples of presentations that he “decrapified” (very illuminating and entertaining!). I did what he recommended – I looked at the original presentation, thought about how I’d improve it, and looked at his improved version and compared it with mine. There are 2 examples where I want to add onto Avinash’s versions.

Example #1 – (A) The Original
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Example #1 – (B) My “decrapified” version
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  • The original was way too cluttered, so I cleaned it up
  • I also chose orange instead of red for the medication purchase. I don’t use red unless it’s to shine a spotlight on something.

Example #1 – (C) Avinash’s “decrapified” version
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  • I really like his decision to use a traditional bar graph, but I couldn’t figure out why he used a stack bar graph!
  • I kept looking at the blue, green, and yellow bars thinking, “What are they for?”

Example #1 –  (D) My modification of Avinash’s “decrapified” version
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Example #2 – (A) The Original
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Example #2 – (B) Avinash’s modified version
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  • I think this is a lot better, but I’m not sure why he didn’t choose to present TV and Digital side-by-side.
  • Presenting them side-by-side would better highlight the main point: how Digital has overtaken TV as the medium Americans spend the most time on.
  • The scale on the y-axis was driving me nuts.

Example #2 – (C) My Modified Version
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  • I changed the time scale so that it’s in one-hour increments
  • I put Digital first, and TV second, to highlight two main points:
  • (a) Americans by far spend more time online and watching TV than any other media
  • (b) Americans spend more time online than they did in the past, and more so than watching TV
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