Visualizations enable information managers to deliver data in a clear, succinct, and targeted way. Internal stakeholders, such as senior management, while keen to understand why decisions are made, are largely unfamiliar with the complexity and nuances of the data itself. They want to see the bottom line, net effect of the data. What story is the data telling and how should the business adjust?
This excerpt below from our new white paper, Tell Your Information Center’s ROI Story Through Data Visualizations, highlights a few tactics to keep in mind when presenting visualizations to stakeholders:
Know Your Audience
The first and most important consideration is knowing what your audience cares about. What’s important to your key stakeholder in finance will likely not be of the same importance as it is to your R&D organization. Hone your message, emphasize what is important to each group, and target the message to align with their priorities.
When thinking about your visualization, ask “What exactly does my audience need to know?” From there, you can determine if that information should be presented simply, such as a single bar graph, or in a more complex breakdown that features additional elements.
Tell a Story
A visualization is only as good as the narrative that accompanies it. The best shot at gaining support from your organization’s stakeholders will be if you can present a story that’s both easy to understand and backed by facts.
Think about why this formula works.
- A narrative, based on your own historical knowledge or intuition can be compelling, but it might not garner trust.
- A visual on its own won’t be helpful if people can’t easily decipher what the data means.
Make that Story Actionable
Here’s a worst-case scenario. You just presented a data visualization, having spent hours perfecting the visuals. It might look beautiful, but after the presentation, your audience files it away, forgetting its relevance and takeaways.
The end goal is always to have your audience, particularly those unfamiliar with the data, to be able to quickly sum up what action needs to be taken based on what they learned from the data.
To the degree possible, tie your communications to overarching business goals. Ask questions, and rely on your entire organization to ensure you’re providing the best resources possible.
Related: What is Value Data and Why Do Information Managers Need It?
Keep Design Simple
The clearer, more succinct the message, the more memorable it will be. Start by presenting a high-level overview of the most important data and dig into the granular details when necessary.
A data visualization with legends, colors and charts may show the wealth of data at your disposal, but most people in your audience won’t want to spend time analyzing the message. Particularly for an audience seeing the data for the first time, this type of visualization will be overwhelming and ultimately ineffective.
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