“We really want to help our technical teams communicate better.” This was the request from our data analytics customer when I asked, “What are you trying to change with training?” This is not an uncommon request. I’ve heard it increasingly over the past ten years. When I probe further to ask what they mean by that, I’ll get responses like…
- The presentations are too data-heavy
- It feels like a data dump
- The slide decks are too complex
- It takes forever for them to get to the point… if they ever do!
Have you seen this movie before? When I ask what success will look like after the training, the response is always the same. “Get them to be more clear, concise, and complete.” I’ve heard these same requests many times over the past ten years and there are three ways to improve the situation. Let's look at each one.
1. The "2030" Future Solution
Harvard Business breaks down data analytics into 6 phases. Each phase focuses the data analyst on analyzing the data and extracting the meaning from it… except for the last phase. The final phase is the communication of the findings to the audience. Phase 6 is where the problem shows up.
With the advent of big data, meta-data, ai, and super computers, the human race has placed a heavy emphasis on STEM (now called STEAM) roles to keep up with the demand for data analyst roles. With that focus on data analysis, it's become more obvious to me over the past ten years that one area has been largely ignored when it comes to preparation. That is Harvard’s Data Science – Phase 6… communicating your findings.
Universities will continue to get more and more feedback from large corporations who recruit their graduates. These corporations are going to demand better communication skills from data science majors. With this increased pressure from corporations, you'll see more options and emphasis placed on data communication at the university level. This will help graduates prepare for their corporate jobs and the strong communication requirements. Look for this to become more prominent in 2030.
2. The "New-Job-Role" Future Solution
While the world may not be ready for dedicated roles of Data Analyst Communicator just yet, I see it coming. According to the Clifton Strengths Finder there are 34 identified personal strengths and each of us has our Top 5 Strengths. Not every Data Analyst graduate will have strengths in both data analysis and communication… but some will.
Just as there was no Social Media Marketing roles 25 years ago, we can’t imagine large organizations today without one. The same holds true for Data Analysts in another 10-15 years. By 2035 organizations will create a new hybrid role of "Data Analyst Communicator" skilled in both data science and communication. This new role will be responsible for taking the findings from the Data Analysts, then crafting and delivering an impactful message to the audience.
3. The "NOW" Solution... Tool-Based Training
The third solution has much more immediate returns. You can train your Data Analysts right now to become better message communicators. Understanding that communication is not everyone’s natural strength, we can still improve our messages and delivery with powerful but simple tools. Just like a good golf pro can get anyone to a basic level of skill so they can play the game, everyone can improve their data presentations with the addition of a few basic messaging tools.
When you consider training for your data analyst team, look for someone who can give them messaging tools they can use immediately and not just theory.
Better Data Analytics Presentations is an immediate need…
Big Data is not going away. We will continue to collect it, analyze it, and make decisions based on it. But don’t forget… if you want the information to turn into decisive action, it needs to be communicated effectively to others. We can't just wait around for 2030 solutions. If you want to get a head start and give your team four messaging tools right now, you can get them from our previous blog post on the four goals for communicating data.
And if you’d like iSpeak to help train your team on data communication methodologies, we’re always here for you!
Until next time…
Russ Peterson Jr.
Russ Peterson Jr. is the co-founder and President of iSpeak, Inc. – An award-winning professional development training company. Russ is a speaker, international trainer, and published author on Professional Sales Communication and Business Communication. He delivers workshops, keynotes, and personal communication coaching services to business professionals in the US and around the world. iSpeak helps people build stronger relationships and achieve more through better communication. You can connect with Russ directly through LinkedIn.
P.S. Will you be at ATD22 in Orlando on May 16-18?
If so, come by our booth (#1036) and say howdy! If you mention you read this invite we’ll give you a free hard-cover edition of our presentation messaging book Corporate Ovations. See you in a few weeks!