How to weave a powerful story into your cold data-intensive reports

How to weave a powerful story into your cold data-intensive reports

Stories are an important part of any presentation, specially those loaded with cold, hard to understand data. They galvanize the audience into action and help them recall your message more clearly and efficiently than any other device. 

Here I provide some action steps to help analysts and any presenter in this situation to identify the story within your data and make a presentation that will be effective, compelling and a joy to be part of.

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Data Analysts and researchers have a new must read: Better Presentations by Jonathan Schwabish

Data Analysts and researchers have a new must read: Better Presentations by Jonathan Schwabish

The recently published new must read for data analyst and researchers, Better Presentations by Johnathan Schwabish stands out as a gem to guide a very specific and growing niche: data-driven professionals. Every chapter provides illustrative examples that guide researchers through the process of planning, design, and delivery. The lessons emphasize how to visualize your content most effectively, how to retain consistency by unifying visual elements with your intended message and how to direct your audience's focus towards what you have to say.

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The one common thread between President Obama and President-elect Trump.

The one common thread between President Obama and President-elect Trump.

President Obama and President elect Trump, share one common thread, that is energy. Energy is necessary because people see your investment in them and they naturally want to reciprocate. The effort that you put into preparing for an event or speech, even during a conversation can mean the difference between meeting the expectations and surpassing them. Find ways in which you can amplify your connection with an audience by using your energy.

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Practice to boost your confidence and your bottom line.

Practice to boost your confidence and your bottom line.

You might wonder how TED speakers or master presenters do it to make it look so smooth? The truth is that most “natural” presenters are not natural at all. They have gone through the effort of practicing and rehearsing their presentations over and over to the point in which there's no other way in which they would look but almost perfect. And that is exactly what you need to do now.

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Share the spotlight, or be forgotten.

Share the spotlight, or be forgotten.

Sharing the spotlight with a guest during you next presentation can add many significant benefits to your speech. Some of them are variety in the rhythm and cadence of delivery, they add more credibility to your statements, fill in gaps of knowledge by introducing an expert on a particular topic that you intend to cover or serve as your best selling tool by adding a live testimonial to the quality of your work.

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The curse of scope creep when working with data and how to avoid it

I love data, and I’m curious. In many ways working as a research analyst was the perfect fit for someone like me. Data analysts, in essence, exists to unearth insights that will result in a market advantage for their clients. That’s it. But to reach that point many peripheral actions needs to take place. I'm referring data extraction, cleaning of the data, preparation – and that is even before you start getting into the good stuff. Afternoons could lead into never-ending quests of analysis looking for that Golden Insight that will give my clients brand an unfair competitive advantage and me a promotion. Unfortunately, this effectively took many nights away from my family, time that I would never get back. Sounds familiar?
Welcome to a phenomenon called scope creep. Scope creep frequently happens to data analysts, but it can happen to anyone with a penchant for perfection. I call it scope creep when after finding a set of insights that completes my deliverables and goals of a project, an additional set of ideas is sought to expand the understanding of a particular event all within the same framework of time expectations for completion of a project. A team member can propose this or even (long sigh) yourself. It 's okay to find insights that will change your understanding of a problem and for you to want to explore more! I propose that when this happens, we need to let our team know that this is normal and that if its desirable to pursue, then you will need additional resources to continue down that rabbit hole.

So here I want to leave you with some steps to prevent you from ending up like me in the office past 10 pm at least due to scope creep.

1)    Identify the business problem that you will take on board based on the total value contribution that solving that issue has for your organization. Like I said before, not only data analysisrequires lots of work, but its very time consuming. I want you to make sure to choose the work you will take on considering how impactful it is. Even if this means saying “no” to a friend. In the end, your boss and your team will appreciate your work more when they notice the importance of the projects in which you take part.

2)    Set up the expectations by making sure that you explain the time commitment and requirements. To do this as accurately as possible, you will need to receive as much information as possible regarding the project. Familiarize your client with the time required to prepare and analyze data once you can collect the information necessary to start the job. Give yourself ample time to under promise and over deliver.  Also is important to communicate that in data analysis is not a project where everything is defined. It will be a good idea to ask them if they have a plan if what you find is not what the are expecting. Finally, keep your client abreast of the progress and updated along if facing challenges with the data.

3)    Complete the promised deliverable. If additional requests emerge, you can always set up a follow-up project with a new timeline.

There's no better feeling like one of incredibly productive in the most important situations at work. The trick is to keep having a life while at it. By having a direct and clear communication with your peers regarding work expectations, you are doing them and yourself a big favor and avoiding scope creep from taking away precious time from the people you love the most.

3 ways to supercharge your confidence and shine when speaking

Most people terrify of speaking in public or at the very least they cringe with anxiety of just the thought of standing in front of an audience to give a talk.

I would see this on a daily basis with my students at the start of every course. The good news is that these feelings did not last for a long time and by the end of the course most were able to deliver inspiring presentations with confidence and clarity. I say most, because building confidence in public speaking and more so when pitching an idea, is something that requires work and time.

You will not be able to wake up a confident new you and deliver like a Tony Robbins from one morning to the next. However, I want to share with you three surefire ways to begin to build your confidence while speaking whether you are asking for a raise, or presenting to senior management the next quarterly report or even during your next meeting with a new potential customer; you can start to be more assertive and self-assured today.

The Power of Visualization

Visualizations have an enormous power over our mind. Great speakers and top-performing athletes use visualization techniques to do incredible and admirable feats. After breaking the 100 meters world record with a time of 9.58 seconds, Usain Bolt was quoted as saying,

“I just visualized and then executed my plan.”

Studies confirm that visualizations can physically impact your body. Visualization is effective because according to Dr. Frank Niles, it activates the brain cells located in the frontal cortex telling your body to perform those actions. This creates a neural pathway that primes your body to react in the same way consistent with what you imagined.

Visualizing and thinking of yourself in a calm and confident state causes the body to believe that in fact, you are in control. It also transforms the physical sensations before a panic attack. This is because while performing an effective meditation and visualization together, it releases different hormones and chemicals in the brain that helps you relax.

 

Find a FREE audio meditation with visualization to help you feel more calm and confident before your next pitch HERE

 

The most effective way to reap the benefits of this technique is by doing it and then following up by practicing the activity you imagined. That brings us to the next action to improve your confidence. It’s actually a sequence of steps.

Practice, Record and Show.

When we practice and record our speeches we can more clearly notice our mannerisms and the way we are coming across. Think smart, proud, shy, low or high energy; then we can tailor our delivery to what the event and our audience demands.

Another reason why its important to review your recording is because you need to start to get used to the sound of your external voice. Your external voice sounds slightly different than the voice that you hear. That is because as our voice travels across our upper body, brain and bones, these mass affects the sound waves of your voice resulting in a different sound than the one we receive deep in our inner ear.

 The final step in this sequence is show. You have to show this recording to a friend or acquaintance so that you can receive friendly feedback and have another set of eyes notice what we might have overlooked ourselves.

Knowing that you have to complete this step will also put your feet to the fire and motivate you to be more focused and do a better recording. We have a Facebook Community were you are welcomed to post a recording and receive friendly feedback and commentary to help you improve your delivery. Join HERE!

The final action to build supercharge your confidence while speaking might appear obvious but you will be surprised at the large amount of people that don’t follow through with this very clear must-do.

Know your Topic Inside Out

Knowing your topic as an expert will build your confidence like no other action you take towards becoming a more assertive and powerful speaker. To master your subject will also allow you to be more relaxed and focus on other aspects of the presentation as it unfolds such as reading a room and assessing audience’s engagement and make modifications to your presentation if necessary. It leads for true passion to come through and people can pick up on that because you will not be delivering a memorized speech, but rather communicate with emotion why this subject should matter too them. All of this because you know your topic like the palm of your hand.

I usually ask my students to share stories of success in the classroom as a way to warm them up to speaking to an audience. One of my favorite stories was that of a student who admitted himself to be very shy, however he really wanted to start an investors club at the university. He decided to go ahead and advertise the first meeting and was able to bring a sizable crowd.

Before starting to speak the anxiety was taking over and felt like he was about to panic. However, he pulled through and after just delivering a few sentences to introduce himself, asked the audience to ask him questions. His knowledge of the topic was so extensive that in the end he forgot about his nerves as he was truly excited to share his knowledge with his peers. That club went on to be a very successful one and very well attended too! The audience really received value through the depth of the knowledge he shared.

As a rule of thumb you should prepare for 30 hours before delivering a structured 1 hour presentation. That includes the time to craft your message, develop the visual design and practice your delivery. Before you get all hot here thinking: I don’t have that kind of time!, consider this: What is at stake during my next pitch? Could it be to impress my boss (or THE boss!), can it be to secure a new contract or to bring on board a new distribution partner? Whatever it is, there is enormous value in the time that you put in to prepare for your next speech.

Although people think that you only get out, what you put in. Actually, in this case, I believe that by practicing these actions before you have your next big opportunity to shine, you will actually get exponentially more than the investment of time you put into it. Big rewards await. Go get’em!

Lorraine Tamburrino                                                                                                                                                                        Consultant and Lecturer in Public Speaking and Organizational Communication                                                                                Founder Core Speech Communications

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