PRESENT TO SUCCEED LESSONS LEARNED

4 Steps to Creating and Presenting Data Stories by Lea Pica

PRESENT TO SUCCEED LESSONS LEARNED

4 Steps to Creating and Presenting Data Stories by Lea Pica

In our Present to Succeed Lessons Learned series, we include all the fascinating, valuable, and wow moments from the sessions of our debut 2021 conference. We aim to share with you the best takeaways and help you improve your presentation craft every single day.

In this article, we take a look at Lea Pica’s session on data visualization and data storytelling. The knowledge shared is for anybody who collects, analyzes, or presents data. It’s also ideal for you if you consume and make decisions based on data since you’ll be better informed, which makes the whole process smoother for both you and the presenter.

Lea Pica is a Data Storytelling Trainer and the creator of the Data Presentation + Storytelling Boot Camp and the PICA Protocol™.

She started with some key questions – are your data visualizations inspiring action, or are you obscuring valuable insights? Are your stakeholders seconds short of falling asleep when you present? Then, according to Lea, you might not have the tools to deliver data in an actionable way – through effective data storytelling.

Her session was a prescription for actionable data storytelling, as she put it. Read on if you’re ready for your valuable insights to be noticed and acted upon.

The Story Hidden in Data

Lea started by asking the audience – what makes a great story? The replies in the chat ranged from intriguing and relatable characters to an engaging narrative, surprising twists, and satisfying resolution. All these elements are present in the stories that stick with you.

But how do you find that in data?

There is a story in your data, but your raw data is not a story. It is up to you to transform it into one. Data storytelling is not just the pretty graphs and interesting slides, it is having an actual story that can be easily understood.

What you are missing is data storytelling.

Data Storytelling

You have to convince your audience that what you present matters and that they should do something about it. But without the storytelling techniques under your belt, your data ends up not cohesive. You have to put it into a narrative yourself.

When your stakeholders ask you for the results, they often do not want to know all the data, but they want to know how to move their business ahead in a way that they understand easily. They do not have the time to analyze the data at your hands but want to know what it means to them.

“Numbers create data, but stories create insights,” Lea explained. “A well-told data story answers, informs, inspires, and galvanizes into action.” she later added.

Stories Create Insights

Later in her presentation, Lea shared the PICA technique, a method for data storytelling that she invented and has proven to be effective time and time again.

The P stands for purpose, as every data story begins with a purpose, and choosing the appropriate visualization. Then I is for insights, which is the ability to gain an accurate and intuitive understanding of your data. Insights are about elevating your data to create stories. Lea offered a model narrative arc for this section, based on practical storytelling but adapted to data.

Then C is for context. Do you have all the information at your disposal? Do you tell a complete story? For example, you sometimes might need two charts side by side to compare relevant performance targets or benchmarks.

Finally, the letter A stands for aesthetics. Aesthetics isn’t only about making your graphs and slides seem nice. It is about effective data visualization – removing the clutter and embracing simplicity and intentionality. Here, for example, Lea emphasized how powerful the intentional use of colors can be for your data visualization.

Screenshot of Lea Pica presenting that data is not storytelling

Lea Pica gave detailed practical examples about everything she talked about, which we highly recommend seeing for yourself to grasp her definitions in practice in the best way.

Let's summarize

When you use the PICA (purpose, insights, context, aesthetics) method for assessing your data, and the data storytelling approaches that Lea provided in her session, keeping your stakeholders interested and motivated when you present data is a little easier.

What precise need do your stakeholders have? What insights are they gaining from the chart you have selected? Is it the proper one? How can you be sure you are telling the whole story? And for aesthetics – keep your audience’s cognitive load away from overload.

It’s not complex when you understand it better, and Lea’s data design principles can help your data come across accurately and more intuitively.

Lea Pica’s session is one we strongly recommend seeing for yourself, if you are a data presenter or data consumer, you better become better with it. It is part of our Design Track recordings that you can get for only €39. And for €79, you can have all 30+ sessions from Present to Succeed 2021.

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Join Present to Succeed - the biggest presentation skills conference in the world

Whether you are part of an organization or running a business, how your slides look will always factor in your success. Learn how to become an influential speaker by joining our 30+ industry-leading speakers’ sessions.

Start engaging your audience better and influencing them to embrace your concepts, hire you, or buy your products. Now is the best moment to get your ticket!

Join Present to Succeed - the biggest presentation skills conference in the world

Whether you are part of an organization or running a business, how your slides look will always factor in your success. Learn how to become an influential speaker by joining our 30+ industry-leading speakers’ sessions.

Start engaging your audience better and influencing them to embrace your concepts, hire you, or buy your products. Now is the best moment to get your ticket!