Some of the most effective ways of presenting data
One of the problems people face when presenting data in large volumes is the inability to communicate data insights so that users can easily navigate and interact with the information.
If you are planning on presenting a large volume of data to your boss, co-worker, or someone with a non-analytical background, a simple and straightforward presentation is key.
To help you out, we have explored different techniques you can use to present large volumes of qualitative or quantitative data with perfect clarity.
What is data presentation?
Data presentation means organizing, summarizing, and displaying data in a meaningful way to enable easy interpretation and analysis. The goal of data presentation is to clearly and concisely communicate key insights and findings in the data to an audience, such as stakeholders or decision-makers.
Most effective ways to present large volumes of data
There are different ways to present data in large volumes. Whether you intend to compare data or show data over time, the following methods will ensure your presentation is easy to understand.
For quantitative data
Tabulation – Tabulation is one of the best ways to represent large volumes of data in a visually appealing and engaging manner. The data is presented in rows and columns, enabling users to read it easily and without distraction.
Bubble chart – A bubble graph is a type of chart that is usually plotted on a two-dimensional axis (x-axis and y-axis), displaying data using bubbles that represent data points. This type of chart allows viewers to easily identify patterns and trends in the data.
Line graph – Popularly used in displaying trends of discrete data values, a line graph—also known as a curve graph—is a data presentation technique that uses lines to connect data points.
In a line graph, there is always an x-axis and a y-axis, with the x-axis representing the independent variable and the y-axis representing the dependent variable. This type of graph is usually used to display quantitative values over a given time range, allowing users to easily visualize trends.
Scatter plot – A scatter plot is a data presentation technique that uses dots on a graph that represent data points. It is a popular method used by experts to visualize key variables in complex and bulky data. Its format makes it an ideal choice for any data presenter, especially when presenting data to someone that does not have a technical background. Data presented in a scatter plot is usually very easy to read and interpret.
Histogram – Another effective way to present a large volume of quantitative data is by using histogram—a proven technique that has consistently worked for many experts in different fields. A histogram is a bar graph-like presentation of data organized into user-specified ranges, with the x-axis representing the range of values for the data and the y-axis representing the frequency of occurrence over a given period.
Each bar in the histogram represents an interval or bin, and its height corresponds to the number or proportion of data points that fall within that interval. Histograms are commonly used to summarize large data sets and identify patterns in the data, such as the presence of outliers or skewness in the distribution.
For qualitative data
Having discussed the ways to present large volumes of quantitative data, let us dive into discussing how to present large amounts of qualitative data.
Word clouds – A word cloud is a data presentation style that involves the arrangements of words in a cloud-like shape, with the size of each word representing its importance in the presentation. This presentation style works well for a wide variety of audience types, as it is easy to visualize the complex qualitative data. It is also a great way to identify and extract insights and key trends in a group of qualitative data.
Heat map – A heat map is the representation of data using a map, with each data value represented with different colors. It is one of the standard formats for presenting large amounts of qualitative data, as it allows viewers to easily understand analytical takeaways in each data set. It also displays the data in a format that is visually appealing.
Mind map – A mind map is a visual diagram that organizes and represents data in a hierarchy, such that the main idea is placed in the middle of the diagram, and other associated sub-topics or themes are arranged around it.
By using a mind map, the complex qualitative data presented is non-linear and flexible, making it easy to explore and navigate.
Graphic timelines – Graphic timelines are visual representations that display important events, dates, and milestones in chronological order. They usually include horizontal bars or lines that represent time, with points or markers along the line indicating significant events or milestones. They can be used to display historical events, project schedules, product development timelines, personal accomplishments, and more.
Pie chart – Pie charts are a popular technique for presenting qualitative data that is easy to understand. A pie chart consists of a circle that displays data, with each piece of data represented by a pie slice.
More tips to help you present large-volume data like a pro
The recommended methods for presenting large-volume data listed above have proven to be consistently effective. A data presentation will not stand out, however, if it is not relevant, accurate, and convincing. With that in mind, we have come up with tips to help you present large-volume data like a pro.
- Ensure that people can see your data
This sounds like an obvious point but, it is an important one. There are instances when you can clearly see the presentation on your laptop screen, but when projected onto a screen, it is difficult for your audience to see.
To avoid this, practice your presentation with colleagues as your audience. Ask them if they can see the data clearly. s. If their answer is not ‘yes,’, redesign your presentation so that it is easier on the eyes.
- Pay attention to what your data illustrates
Your data is only meaningful if illustrated properly. It is your responsibility to explain how the data supports your main point in a way the audience will understand.
When designing slides, most people focus on the data itself. Your attention, however, should be on the meaning of the data. You need to make sure that the meaning of the data is as clear as possible to help your audience process it.
It is essential to connect your data to what it supports. Use words like ’this chart shows,’ ’these numbers prove,. ‘this data illustrates,’ etc.
- Think carefully about the colors you use
The use of color is a great storytelling tool. If you look at many corporate reports, you will notice multicolor graphs and pie charts. Color attracts our eyes. When telling stories with data, use an action color that draws the audience’s attention toward the part where you are telling the story. Using a neutral color such as gray for the surrounding text will de-emphasize that information.
- Choose your words wisely
If you use a lot of visuals in your presentation, you may have a small amount of room for text. This is because you are using images to tell a story. This does not mean, however, that words are not important. Every letter is important, and there is no room for wasted words, especially with a large volume of data.
Ensure that your titles and headings do not sound generic. For example, a report with the word ‘sales’ is vague as everyone will wonder: “What about sales?” Instead, say: ”The sales were down or up, although not enough.” A surprise ending is not needed during data storytelling;there is no need to leave people in suspense. Give your audience the facts they want to hear.
- Highlight your ’aha’ zones
Aha zones are areas in the graph or chart that reveal crucial information about your main point. Some presenters prefer to orally explain why the aha zones are relevant to their data and share the story, trend, or lesson the data tells.
In addition to explaining these zones, you can also list them as bullet points on your slides. Another option is to visually highlight the zones with a circle or bright color. The audience will then be able to properly understand the data properly and decipher key takeaways.
- Take an online course
If you are looking to take your knowledge of data analyzation and presentation to the next level, you can enroll in the SBU online business analytics program. At St. Bonaventure University, you will discover a carefully crafted educational experience. An online Master’s in Business Analytics degree program can equip you for high-demand jobs involving big data. Students from many backgrounds can learn the skills necessary for a career in business analytics through the online Master of Science in Business Analytics program.
Mistakes to avoid when presenting data in large volumes
- Not offering insights
Presenting data in a way your audience can relate to is not easy. For this reason, many presenters often use cool graphics and superb formatting to grab the attention of their audience. It is important to remember, however, that insights into the meaning of your data should be the primary focus of the presentation.
Your insights should provide conclusions about what the numbers, data, and statistics signify. Make the data as meaningful and helpful as possible for your audience, and, share the value you obtained from evaluating the data.
- Wanting to be perfect
Some people believe that in order for their presentation to be believable, they have to be perfect in their delivery. iIt is common to see presenters struggle to create dramatic pauses and perfectly execute every line. Unfortunately, a perfect presentation does not guarantee the audience’s trust.
Focusing on perfection may cause the audience to believe you are trying to be something you are not. It is important to put time and energy into perfecting your presentation, but, your focus should be on naturally connecting with your audience. Tell some jokes, share personal stories, and ask questions.
- Displaying unclear slides
Remember that you are creating slides for people that will be sitting relatively far from the screen. Ensure that your audience can clearly see what your slides contain. If a person cannot see what you are talking about, they may not be interested in what you have to say. As a result, they could miss the main points of your presentation, and you could end up wasting your time and theirs.
- Formatting your presentation poorly
To create a viewer-friendly presentation, focus on clear formatting. This will make the information more readable, appealing, and understandable. Ensure that you use clear fonts, rather than those that are complex and cursive. Break the information down using headings and subheadings to make it easy for your audience to follow.
If a decimal is not necessary, do not add it. When adding photos and graphics, choose those with high impact and limit the text you place on each slide. At the same time, check your content for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and typos.
- Using complex jargon and tables
Tables are an easy way of presenting data, but it is important to use them sparingly. Tables larger than 2 x 2 can be visually overwhelming for an audience, especially when going through the points quickly.
Make sure your tables are simple. It is wise to share a PDF of your slides before your presentation so the audience can follow along and have a document for future reference. At the same time, your analysis should be detailed.
Additionally, try to avoid jargon in your presentation. You need to be straight to the point for your readers and use the best words and phrases to explain your data.
Presenting large volumes of data can be a daunting task. With the right strategies, however, it can be done effectively.
As stated in the article above, when dealing with quantitative data, it is important to use clear visualizations that highlight the key points of the data. Charts, graphs, and tables are all effective ways to present numerical data. When dealing with qualitative data, word clouds, heat maps, and other methods introduced above can help you bring the data to life.
Overall, it is important to remember the purpose of the presentation and the audience that will be viewing it. By tailoring your presentation to meet the specific needs of your audience, you can ensure that your data is well received and can be used to drive informed decision-making.