Tell a story with your data
Cold, hard facts, even when they’re accompanied by compelling statistics don’t stimulate action. Action comes from a compelling story: backed by data, tailored for your audience, and quickly understood.
Know your audience: It’s key to know what each audience member is passionate about, and how they prefer to receive information. For example, bring data relevant to the audience’s purview and your recommendations (e.g., hiring data for staffing leaders, healthcare data for benefits leaders). And think about sending materials ahead of time for review to make the most of your meeting or presentation.
Keep it short: Boil your message down to three minutes or less to prepare for two situations:
- The classic elevator speech where a leader asks for what you’re working on.
- Meetings with decision makers where the time for your topic gets cut down dramatically
Storyboard: Start with a blank document or even a sheet of paper. Don’t start by trying to build a presentation. Remember three basic components: context, findings, and call to action.
Organize your horizontal and vertical logic: Once you’ve got your storyboard and you plan to create a presentation on your analysis and recommendations, remember that leaders may just read the titles of each slide while flipping through the document. They may only read in detail when they need convincing, so it's important that your story’s horizontal and vertical logic flow well.
- Horizontal logic means that the headings of each slide convey your story including the context, findings, and a call to action. There should be a clear flow from one topic to the next. Create an executive summary by using the titles of each slide as bullets and use active titles that describe the main takeaway.
- Vertical logic means that everything on a given slide reinforces the title. Resist the urge to include anything off-topic, ancillary, or non-critical. Classic vertical logic also has a takeaway at the bottom of the slide, reinforcing the topic and serving closure.