Data presentation is becoming more and more important. In this connected, data-rich world it isn’t enough anymore to write up your findings in a report, provide graphs and analysis and expect that this will be circulated and read widely. The rise of the infographic has changed expectations of reporting and data. For the better I feel. Yes, it can be challenging to summarise your findings down sufficiently to meet the demands of a data-rich image. But there is a discipline in this that is valuable, a focus on what really matters and what readers and stakeholders are going to take away from the report you have so carefully written.
“What about the rich detail in the body of the report?” I hear you cry. Well, we all know that those people who want to and need to read the report, will. And those who don’t, won’t. Decision makers are often the people who don’t read reports (they’re just too busy) and they rely on either the executive summary or (very often) on someone else telling them the key points and what the recommendations are. That rich detail in the report is not lost, but serves to support the summarised presentation of data; and the summary (executive or visual) is as important an element of data sharing as the report is.
So getting it right matters. Sometimes it can be just one image that helps to communicate the central finding, or a small collection of statistics or analysis that will do it. Either way, graphic representations of data and findings are getting more important, so we have to apply our story-telling skills to make pictures that replace a thousand words!
Do you use images to communicate your impact? Is this something that is challenging for you? Or are you often asked to simplify your presentations, but find it difficult to do so and keep all the findings included?