Data and data analytics can only go so far on their own.

How to Use Big Data for Big Results in Your Presentation

We live in an age of big data. From advertising to medicine to government, organizations are turning to data mining and data analytics to uncover new, better, and more efficient ways to meet their goals. If you’re in business management or are considering a management career, the modern era of data provides all kinds of opportunities to build and grow your business. But before you can move forward with any new plan, you first have to convince others to join you—and that can be tricky.

Even if you know the data supporting your idea is compelling, it’s not always easy to get others to believe the same. That’s why the best business schools, top MBA programs, and finest business seminars are focusing time not just on the usefulness of data, but also on how best to present it, too. Here are a few ways you can improve your own data-driven presentations.

Tell a Story

It’s one of the oldest pieces of advice, and the modern age of big data does nothing to change it. If you want to engage an audience, tell them a story. Start with a problem and the people affected by the problem. Present yourself as the hero who wants to help. Use your data as the clues and tools the hero uncovers in his or her quest to help. Then end with your idea being the solution that will save the day—if only the audience will join you.

Select the Right Data

One of the drawbacks of data mining is that it comes with a lot of slag. As you’re putting together your presentation, you have to be meticulous about including only the most persuasive datasets. For instance, if you’re trying to convince your supervisors that a push to improve customer service will improve the bottom line, you may have collected data on average customer call lengths, but you probably don’t need to include that data in your presentation. Instead, focus on data more closely tied to your argument, such as the numbers on customer complaint rates. That way, you can better keep your audience focused on your idea.

Make Your Data Relatable

Numbers—particularly large numbers—can be hard to grasp. To make sure your numbers are hitting home, you need to make them relatable. One of the best ways to do this is to bring them down to smaller, easier-to-grasp terms. In the customer service example, it may be accurate to say your business receives 500,000 complaints per year, but it’s much more compelling to say a customer registers a complaint once a minute, all day, every day. By bringing data down to more relatable terms, your audience can more easily grasp the importance and impact.

Visualize Your Data

Do you like charts, graphs, tables, and diagrams? You should, because they can be the difference-maker in your presentation. In fact, research has shown that data visualization can significantly increase persuasiveness.* The trick is knowing what kind of visualization to use for which kinds of data. In general, graphs and tables work best for comparisons between things while charts work best for showing the composition of one thing. However, you should take time to research and review the many different ways to visualize data. Once you decide what type of visualization makes your data easiest to grasp, keep it simple. Plain design without ornamentation is a more effective way to present data than using lots of design flourishes.

Earn an MBA Degree or DBA Degree

One of the best ways you can improve your presentation skills and your overall business acumen is to earn an advanced business administration degree or management degree. Two of the best business degrees out there are the Master of Business Administration (MBA) and the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA). With either a business administration master’s degree or a doctorate in business, you can gain the business knowledge you need to succeed.

Don’t think you have time to earn a degree? You might be surprised. Thanks to the advent of online graduate degree programs, you can now advance your education more conveniently than ever before. Online MBA programs and online DBA programs don’t require you to attend class at a traditional campus. Instead, when you enroll in an online university, you can complete the majority of your coursework from home. Plus, an online MBA and an online DBA offer you a flexible schedule, allowing you to attend to your schoolwork at the time of day that’s most convenient for you. That means you can continue to work a full-time job—a significant benefit that has made online education highly popular among working adults.

With an online DBA or MBA online program, you can gain the skills you need to present data effectively and excel in your management career.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering online Master of Business Administration and Doctor of Business Administration degree programs. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


*A. Tal and B. Wansink, Blinded with science: Trivial graphs and formulas increase ad persuasiveness and belief in product efficacy, Public Understanding of Science, on the internet at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0963662514549688.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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