In which I rant about showing data in presentations #MRX #CRC2014

Enough already. I’m tired of presenters complaining that we show too much data in presentations and I’m tired of research users saying there are too much data in reports.

Data is massively important.

Without data, we would not be able to draw any conclusions. Without data, we would not understand consumers. Without data, researchers would not be able to independently determine whether they agree with someone else’s conclusions. Without data, there is no debate, no difference of opinion, no opportunity to become more comfortable using data, no opportunity to teach others about the use of data.

Data is not the issue. Data presentation is the issue. We need to learn how to choose the data points that best demonstrate the point we wish to make. And, we need to learn how to choose the chart that best presents that point. We need to stop choosing the first chart in Excel and instead choose the best chart, the best colours, the best formatting, the best labeling, and more.  Easy and quick is not best. It’s lazy.

As part of your next presentation, INCLUDE DATA. For every single point you want to make. Write out a clear description of the point. Show me a clear representation of the data in a picture. And if you want to appeal to even more people, show me a audio visual component that brings the point to life. Give me all the factors I need to decide for myself whether I believe you. I’m not stupid and I don’t think you’re God. But give me all the pieces I need and I’ll figure it out for myself, perhaps come to the same conclusion as you, and then be impressed with your data.

We’ve gotten over the “DIY sucks” and realized that “Unskilled researchers” are the real problem.

Now it’s time to get over “Data sucks” and realize that “Poor data presentation” is the real problem.


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