"Why are my leaders always questioning my data results?" This was the question from my data analytics student and he was frustrated. So, I asked him, "What do you mean? Can you give me an example?"
"Sure. Every time I give them the test results and I tell them what the results mean, they start asking me things like..."
- What does this mean for our business units?
- What should we do with this?
- Where do we go from here?
"How am I supposed to know the answers to all this? Isn't that their job anyway? I did my data analysis and now it should be up to them. I don't know why they keep pushing the next steps back on me."
As I smiled back at my student he was confused by my facial expression. He asked me, "Why are you smiling?"
"You should be flattered. This group of leaders is inviting you into a leadership conversation. They see you as more than just a data messenger or even a data specialist. They see you as a leader and they are inviting you into a future-oriented conversation."
Data presentations fall on a spectrum: Inform --> Interpret --> Recommend --> Influence
He was interpreting... but was being asked to recommend. Leaders communicate most often on the right side of this spectrum, recommending and influencing.
How should I present my data analytics?
The answer depends on your goal for presenting. In the world of data science, there are 4 types of analytics you can leverage to extract meaningful data. These four align with your goals for presenting. They help you construct your message. Start by asking yourself this question...
What is your presentation goal for the audience? Are you trying to inform the audience, interpret for them, recommend a solution, or influence them to make a particular choice?
Descriptive - Inform
This form of data analysis focuses on reviewing information from the past, aggregating the data, examining, and understanding. Some communication examples are project updates or quarterly business reviews. You present your update and answer any questions. You're a messenger delivering the data.
Diagnostic - Interpret
This leverages a slightly deeper look into the data to understand the "why" behind it. You're an expert and an interpreter. The audience is relying on your expertise to interpret the data for them. Help them understand what led to the results you've observed. Examples of this type of presentation are software or hardware test results, or marketing A - B testing.
Predictive - Recommend
On the messaging spectrum, this is the first type of analytic that leans into influence. Analyzing the data to not only understand the what and why, but now using that information to predict the future. This form of presentation leads to recommendations from the expert.
The presenter has an opinion based on the data, but also recognizes, it's not entirely his/her decision. So the presenter makes a recommendation and allows the audience to decide. You're a sage.
Examples of this type of presentation include recommendations based on sales forecasts or technology fail/success rates after improvements.
Prescriptive - Influence
Now we've reached the level of influence. This level of data analytics looks for meaning in the past data to not only predict the future, but also help the team make the best decisions on next steps.
When the presenter has done the analysis to understand... the results, why the results are happening, how the variables can be manipulated to change outcomes, and which option is the best choice... you have a compelling message to promote change. You're a leader. Examples of these presentations include ROI calculations or business case comparisons.
How can you construct your messages for each?
Now that you know the four types of data analytics, how can this help with your data analytics presentations? Once you know the objective for presenting the data, use the proper iSpeak messaging model to help you construct the best message for your audience.
And if you want a little help... please let us know!
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.